Local leaders offer differing views on mask mandate debate

Austin and Travis County's mask mandate remains in place. A state judge handed down the ruling earlier this week. But, local officials have some conflicting opinions on how counties should be handling the situation. 

"I'm trying to understand why the person with the deadly virus should have more power than the person trying to stay alive and not catch the deadly virus," said Judge Lora Livingston of the 261st District Civil Court. 

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said this ruling, is a victory. 

"People shouldn't be wearing masks because of a law or an order, they should be wearing masks because they work and they're effective," Adler said. 



In Williamson County, Judge Bill Gravel said the issue is nothing but a way to incite fear in the community.

"I'm so disappointed," Gravel said. "This has been a tool that's been used to frighten people and for fear-mongering."

This weekend the Kalahari  Resort in Round Rock hosting its spring festival. Gravel says the community needs something like this as a break

"We've been through a pandemic, but one thing I've learned about our residents here in Central Texas is they know how to be smart," he said. 

Gravel said, as an elected official, it's his job to give his community the opportunity to make decisions, not to hand out rules.

"This is about choices and you get to make a choice," he said. "When are we going to trust the people again and allow them to make the choice?"

Adler said he doesn't know when this became a partisan issue.

"The fact that there are still people in our community, that question, the efficacy of wearing masks, that find it a freedom interest, that I don't think exists," he said. 

He encourages everyone to continue to wear a mask.

"If someone doesn't wear a mask, they're not taking a risk for themselves, they're taking a risk for all the people that are around them," said Adler. 

Adler added he expects the state to appeal but doesn't have a timeline on what that may look like.