Texas Governor Issues Mask Order to Contain Spread of COVID-19
Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Thursday ordered that face coverings must be worn in public across most of the state to control spiking numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
Abbott had previously said the government could not order individuals to wear masks.
His prior virus-related orders had undercut efforts by local governments to enforce mask requirements. But faced with dramatically rising numbers of both newly confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus and the number of patients so sick they needed to be hospitalized, Abbott changed course with Thursday's mask order, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
It requires “all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions," the governor's office said.
“We are now at a point where the virus is spreading so fast, there is little margin for error,” Abbott said.
Texas reported 7,915 newly confirmed cases, a slight dip after zooming past the 8,000 mark for the first time on Wednesday.
The 7,382 hospitalizations means the state has more than quadrupled its numbers in that category since the end of May.
According to AP, the true number of cases is likely much higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest that people can be infected and not feel sick.
Abbott’s action comes as Texans approach the Fourth of July weekend, a time usually marked by gatherings and parties.