AUSTIN, Texas - Texans must now wear a mask in public, as Gov. Greg Abbott has issued an executive order requiring face coverings in counties with 20 or more cases of COVID-19.
Abbott says this is to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 which has seen a spike here in Central Texas. He is also encouraging mayors and counties to impose restrictions on outdoor gatherings.
The order goes into effect at noon tomorrow, July 3.
"Texans are resilient they are tough and they are determined," Abbott said. "COVID-19 is not going away in fact it's getting worse. Right now action by everyone is needed until treatments are available for COVID-19."
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Abbott says that in the last half of May, Texas averaged about 1,500 positive cases a day, but that this week, that number quadrupled to 6,000 positive cases a day.
Exceptions to the order include people younger than 10, eating or drinking, exercising, driving alone or with passengers from the same household, in religious worship, giving a speech for broadcast, medical conditions, and voting.
"Medical studies show that wearing a face-covering slows the spread of COVID-19 and it protects you and your family," Abbott said, adding that the order is an effort to prevent another shutdown. "I know wearing a face covering is not the most convenient thing to do but I also know that wearing a face-covering will keep Texas open for business and help Texans get the paycheck they need."
A verbal or written warning can be issued for a first-time violator of the maks requirement. A person’s second violation can result in a fine of up to $250. Local law enforcement can issue warnings and fines, but cannot arrest or jail people.
"The virus it doesn't know and it doesn't care what your age, race, political association or geographic location is, it will attack anyone, anywhere," Abbott said.
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.