When several local Texas governments, including Dallas County and Bexar County, flouted Gov. Greg Abbott's executive orders banning mask mandates, he vowed to take them to court.
On Sunday, Abbott scored a victory - at least for now.
The Texas Supreme Court issued stays preventing mask mandates from being enforced in those counties, which are two of the larger counties in the country. A final decision is still forthcoming, however.
What You Need To Know
- The Supreme Court rules in favor of Gov. Abbott’s prohibition of governmental mask mandates
- Any violation of Executive Order GA-38 could result in legal ramifications
- Mask-wearing, according to Abbott is a personal responsibility not a governmental mandate
Abbott’s orders ban any agency that receives state dollars from enforcing mask or vaccine mandates.
The stays come after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a petition for writ of mandamus stating that the Texas Disaster Act of 1975 grants the governor the power to act as "commander in chief" of the state in times of disaster.
A short time following the court's decision, Dallas Country Judge Clay Jenkins, who issued the emergnecy order that mandated masks in parts of the county, said that the ruling doesn't actually invalidate his mask order.
“The Tex Supreme Court did not strike down my face mask order. Rather they removed the stay on the GA 38,” Jenkins tweeted. “Unless I receive a ruling requiring otherwise, I will amend my order to remove the possibility of fines on non-compliant businesses but otherwise leave the order in effect.”
Hays County was one of the most recent to join Dallas County, Bexar County and San Antonio in implementing mask mandates. Additionally, the state’s larger school districts - including Austin ISD, Dallas ISD, Fort Worth ISD and Houston ISD - put mask mandates in place.
Although Texas’ COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations are steadily rising with the proliferation of the delta variant, Abbott says mask-wearing should be a personal responsibility rather than a governmental mandate.
The Texas Department of State Health Services on Sunday reported 4,209 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 43 new fatalities attributed to the virus. There are more than 11,500 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state.