Governor Abbott made an announcement on Thursday, July 2, establishing a statewide face covering requirement.
The executive order went into effect at 12:01 p.m. on Friday, July 3, and now 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.
Abbott also issued a proclamation giving mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on some outdoor gatherings of over 10 people, and making it mandatory that, with certain exceptions, people cannot be in groups larger than ten and must maintain six feet of social distancing from others.
"Wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19," said Governor Abbott. "We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another—and that means wearing a face covering in public spaces. Likewise, large gatherings are a clear contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases. Restricting the size of groups gatherings will strengthen Texas’ ability to corral this virus and keep Texans safe. We all have a responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep our communities safe. If Texans commit to wearing face coverings in public spaces and follow the best health and safety practices, we can both slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep Texas open for business. I urge all Texans to wear a face covering in public, not just for their own health, but for the health of their families, friends, and for all our fellow Texans."
The first violation of the new mandate is a warning, while subsequent violations are subject to a penalty not to exceed $250.
"We're seeking voluntary compliance," said Stephenville Police Chief Dan Harris. "The last thing that we want to do is to issue someone a citation for not wearing their facial coverings. We will be doing lots of educating on the importance of saving lives, wearing a mask and helping us through this next phase of COVID."
Governor Abbott stated that, "No one can ever be put in jail for violating this safe practice."
There are some exclusions to the face covering rule including:
•Children under the age of 10
•A person with a medical disability that prevents wearing a face covering
•When you are eating or drinking
•When exercising or outdoors engaging in physical activity
•While driving alone, or with passengers of the same household
•While voting, administering a vote or administering an election
•While swimming in or on a body of water
•While giving a speech for an audience
"My job is to keep bad people and bad things out of this city and one bad thing is the virus," Harris said. "In that sense, you will see me wearing [my mask]. You will see our officers wearing their masks to protect themselves and everyone from that. This is new to all of us. This is very challenging on everyone’s emotions."
COVID NUMBERS REACH 200 IN ERATH COUNTY
As of Monday, July 6 at 7:30 p.m., Erath County has 243 total cases of COVID-19, 204 active and 12 hospitalizations.
"I think none of us ever imagined such an increase in cases back in April and May as we transitioned to opening things up," said Erath County Judge Alfonso Campos. "However, we are encouraged by the fact that our hospital and medical community has not been overwhelmed, having had only 12 that required hospitalization this whole time."
The county received results of the mobile testing performed on June 29. After verifying the positives, the county ended up with 29 new cases in Erath County – 23 cases in the city of Stephenville, three in the city of Dublin and three in the county.
From the mobile coronavirus testing site at Cornerstone Church that took place on Monday, 270 people were tested for the virus. The results of those tests will be revealed in a few days.
A breakdown of the cases in each age group is listed below:
• 0-12 years – 12 cases
• 13-19 years – 21 cases
• 20-29 years – 66 cases
• 30-39 years – 24 cases
• 40-64 years – 56 cases
• 65+ years – 21 cases
There are 127 women and 116 men in Erath County with a positive test of COVID-19.