TEXAS -- Confirmed cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations have skyrocketed in Texas and elsewhere, prompting a renewed focus on social distancing measures.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Tuesday addressed the issue, largely chalking the spike up to increased testing, clusters of cases in areas identified as hot spots, and young people ignoring social distancing at bars.
There is no indication Texas will slow down or pause its efforts to reopen the state economy, and local jurisdictions have somewhat had their hands tied when it comes to enforcing measures aimed at limiting the spread of the virus.
Following Abbott’s address, the mayors of several large cities sent a letter to the governor requesting they be given the authority to mandate mask usage in their respective cities. The letter reads, in part:
“… we are writing to you today about one of the best ways to keep businesses open and people safe from COVID-19: the wearing of facemasks. This one step could be the most effective way to prevent the transmission of the disease. Yet many people in our cities are still refusing to wear these face coverings even though these coverings are scientifically proven to help reduce the spread of the disease.
“We are writing to you for the authority to set rules and regulations on the use of face coverings in each of our cities. A one-size-fits-all approach is not the best option. We should trust local officials to make informed choices about health policy. And if mayors are given the opportunity to require face coverings, we believe our cities will be ready to help reduce the spread of the disease.”
I've joined 8 other TX mayors in asking the Governor to restore the ability for local authorities to enforce the wearing of face coverings.— Mayor Ron | Wear a mask! 😷 (@Ron_Nirenberg) June 16, 2020
A one-size-fits all approach won't work.
As COVID-19 spreads, San Antonio needs the capability to respond as local needs require. pic.twitter.com/SDFXV4mNCy
The letter was signed by the mayors of Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, El Paso, Fort Worth, Arlington, Plano and Grand Prairie.
So far there is no indication Abbott will acquiesce. Although he has called on Texans to wear masks in public places, he has stated it’s a matter of choice.