AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Governor Greg Abbott on Thursday issued an Executive Order requiring 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 also issued a proclamation giving mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on some outdoor gatherings of over 10 people, and making it mandatory that, with certain exceptions, people cannot be in groups larger than ten and must maintain six feet of social distancing from others.
He explained wearing masks will help keep Texas open.
Up until now, Gov. Abbott has encouraged Texans to wear masks, but was hesitant to require it.
Texas has seen a “swift and substantial spike in COVID-19 cases” in recent weeks and Gov. Abbott said, “We need to refocus on slowing the spread.”
The state reported 7,915 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.
The 7,382 hospitalizations means the state has more than quadrupled its numbers in that category since the end of May.
Dallas County reported more than 700 new cases for the first time on Thursday.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins had been urging Gov. Abbott to implement a statewide mask requirement, including in a tweet hours before the order came down.
.@GovAbbott last weekend I sent you this letter with health expert recommendations. Tomorrow,many businesses will close for July 4. We can’t afford another spike like after Memorial Day. Please act today to require masks statewide. Limit crowds and other recs from the Drs pic.twitter.com/LZZ10tzIzH
— Clay Jenkins (@JudgeClayJ) July 2, 2020
But the spikes aren’t limited to big cities.
More than 91 of Texas’ 254 counties have hit record-high numbers of new COVID-19 cases in the last three days, Gov. Abbott said.
“COVID-19 is not going away. In fact it’s getting worse. Now more than ever, action by everyone is needed until treatments are available for COVID-19,” Gov. Abbott said in a video message.
He also said slowing the spread in Texas can be done without shutting down the state again.
WATCH GOVERNOR ABBOTT HERE:
READ GOVERNOR ABBOTT’S WRITTEN STATEMENT:
“Wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19.
We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another—and that means wearing a face covering in public spaces. Likewise, large gatherings are a clear contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases.
Restricting the size of groups gatherings will strengthen Texas’ ability to corral this virus and keep Texans safe. We all have a responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep our communities safe.
If Texans commit to wearing face coverings in public spaces and follow the best health and safety practices, we can both slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep Texas open for business. I urge all Texans to wear a face covering in public, not just for their own health, but for the health of their families, friends, and for all our fellow Texans.”
READ THE EXECUTIVE ORDER:
Mask order violators can be fined up to $250.
There are exceptions for people who have a medical condition or disability, who are exercising outdoors, or who are participating in a religious service or voting. Texas this week began its monthlong early voting period for its primary elections.