DALLAS — The all-Republican Texas Supreme Court on Sunday handed Gov. Greg Abbott a temporary victory in his ongoing battle over mask mandates. The court issued stay orders preventing Bexar and Dallas counties from enforcing mandates.
However, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who last week issued an emergency order mandating mask usage in parts of the country, doesn’t see it that way.
“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.”
The order by the state’s highest court halts mask requirements that county leaders in Dallas and San Antonio put in place as new infections soar and students begin returning to school. Texas reported more than 11,500 patients hospitalized with the virus Sunday, the most since January.
The ruling is temporary pending a court hearing, though a final ruling could take weeks. Officials in Houston and Austin, as well as public school districts, had also imposed mask mandates despite Abbott prohibiting local governments from reverting back to pandemic restrictions.
White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said last week that Texas and Florida accounted for nearly 40% of new virus hospitalizations nationwide.
The COVID-19 death toll has started soaring again as the delta variant tears through the nation’s unvaccinated population and fills up hospitals with patients, many of whom are younger than during earlier phases of the pandemic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.