DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – An administrative court judge ordered Friday, July 30, that anyone entering a Dallas County courthouse must be wearing a mask to be admitted.
The order by Administrative District Judge Maricela Moore requires masks to be worn in the common areas of the George Allen Courthouse, which houses the county’s civil courts; the Frank Crowley Courthouse, which houses its criminal courts; and the Henry Wade Building, which houses its juvenile courts.
Those refusing could be barred from entering the buildings.
The order comes after Gov. Greg Abbott repeated his order banning any mask mandates by any state, county or local government entity.
However, it cites as its authority a Texas Supreme Court order “that confirms the judiciary’s authority to take reasonable actions to avoid exposing court proceedings and participants to the threat of COVID-19.”
Also cited is an opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office upholding broad judicial authority to control orderly court proceedings.
The order is effective starting Monday. A message to Abbott’s office seeking comment was not immediately returned.
The order came as COVID-19 was on a renewed rampage across the state, fueled by the highly contagious delta variant.
The Texas Department of State Health Services reported 15,893 new cases Friday, the most since Feb. 3.
Of those, 726 new cases came from Dallas County. Over the past two weeks, the rolling average of daily new cases has risen by 183% to 5,100.
As of Thursday, the most recent day reported by state health officials, 5,846 people were in Texas hospitals with COVID-19, the most since Feb. 26.
Fifty-seven new COVID-19 deaths were reported Friday, five of them in Dallas County.
Texas had almost 44% of its population fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Friday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That’s well below the national average of 57.2%.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)