(AUSTIN, Texas) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday ordered that face coverings must be worn in public across most of the state, a dramatic ramp up of the Republican’s efforts to control spiking numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
Abbott, who had pushed Texas’ aggressive reopening of the state economy in May, 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 the statewide mask order.
The order 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.”