Gov. Abbott’s mask update leaves local leaders in limbo regarding protocol

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WACO, Texas – There are only two ways to interpret Governor Greg Abbott’s decision to do away with the mask mandate put in place almost a year ago.

There’s Tanaka’s perspective:

“I think it was a little bit of an irresponsible decision due to the COVID crisis, but if he feels that it was necessary for the direction of the state, then let it be.”

There’s David’s perspective:

“I also understand the point that people should make decisions for themselves, and the areas that they’re in charge of.”

But regardless, local leaders at some point will have to figure out the roles they will play in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.

“People and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate,” Abbott told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

The governor’s new policy gives businesses and individuals the freedom to choose how they approach COVID precautions, but it also takes away all means of local governmental enforcement
when it comes to following the recommended guidelines.

The governor says county judges, under no circumstance, can put anyone in jail for not wearing a mask – nor can he or she penalize anyone for choosing not to do so.

But county judges can impose COVID mitigation strategies only if COVID hospitalizations rise above 15 percent of the hospital bed capacity in a region for a week or more. He says this condition even comes with limits.

“If restrictions are imposed at the county level, all entities must be allowed to operate at at least a 50 percent capacity,” said Abbott.

Waco Mayor Dillon meek tells us, “The city’s legal department is reviewing Abbott’s executive order and specifically the scope of pre-emption on city and county ordinances. Of note, the governor’s order does not take effect until next week. We will have greater clarity before this time.”

He is urging Waco citizens to heed Dr. Jackson Griggs’ statement on the update:

“It is important to remember that the CDC still recommends masking any time you are not with members of your own household. Wearing a face covering remains a crucial community-wide practice to slow spread among friends, family, and colleagues.”

A Waco resident tells us for friends and family who choose not to mask up, regulated or not, it will be taken personally.

“I’ll definitely see it as them not caring, but hopefully we’ll continue to social distance, and that will also continue to lower the rates of COVID,” said Jakara Charles.

Local officials throughout the region haven’t given an update regarding how they plan to adjust their policies since Abbott’s announcement.

Abbott’s new policy update goes into effect on Wednesday, March 10th.

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