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Masks up

We solved Greg Abbott’s riddle, so all is well now, right?

With Gov. Greg Abbott’s apparent blessing, Bexar and Hidalgo counties have imposed a new mask rule for local businesses, saying they must require employees and customers to wear masks when social distancing isn’t possible. The move appears to open a new way for local officials to require mask use in certain public spaces after Abbott stymied prior efforts by local officials to put the onus on residents.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff’s and Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez’s orders comes after Abbott issued an executive order June 3 banning local governments from imposing fines or criminal penalties on people who don’t wear masks in public.

Wolff’s order states that, starting Monday and running through the end of the month, businesses in Bexar County must require face masks “where six feet of separation is not feasible” before the business risks facing a fine of up to $1,000. Cortez’s order states businesses in Hidalgo County will risk being fined starting Saturday and will remain in effect until further notice.

The orders also state that, consistent with Abbott’s executive order, “no civil or criminal penalty will be imposed on individuals for failure to wear a face covering.” Later in the day, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg signed an update to his emergency health order to express support for and adopt Wolff’s order, saying that, as the number of coronavirus cases increase in the city, “masks are our best line of defense.”

[…]

“I’m pleased that the Governor has changed his mind. I’m asking our county lawyers and business leaders to look at this and plan to make a proposal for the Commissioner’s Court to look at very soon,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement, who said he’s already looking into whether he’ll follow suit.

A spokesperson for Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said they are checking with the county attorney’s office on Wolff’s order, adding that “we’re not any safer today than we were in March. There is no vaccine. No cure. We remain very concerned about the trajectory of hospital admissions.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office had already warned officials in big cities, including San Antonio, to roll back “unlawful” local emergency orders that featured stricter coronavirus restrictions than those of the state, while hinting of lawsuits if they do not. Paxton’s office declined to comment on Wolff’s order Wednesday.

See here for some background. The city of Austin has already issued a similar order, and I figure it’s just a matter of time before Harris and Dallas and a bunch of other places follow suit. I feel confident saying that the wingnut contingent will not take this lying down, so the question is whether they fight back via Hotze lawsuit, or do actual elected Republicans with their own power and ambition like Ken Paxton get involved? And when they do, what inventive technique will Abbott find to shift the blame to someone else this time?

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13 Comments

  1. Jason Hochman says:

    The wing nuts definitely won’t stand for this. In California, a San Diego law firm filed a federal suit over mask requirements. In Pennsylvania, grocery stores are getting sued for violating the ADA, by not exempting people from mask laws when those people have anxiety, breathing difficulty, skin disorders.

    Meanwhile the cases here continue to go up. The only solution is to shut down everything.

    I just read a story about a man in New York. Back in April he called the police (before they were de-funded) to report a person with a gun and a knife in the neighborhood. He was the man with the gun and knife; he wanted to commit suicide by cop because he had tested positive for COVID19. Since he feared an agonizing death by COVID, he wanted to go out quickly, so the police obliged by shooting him 7 times. But, he survived for several days, and died a painful death in the hospital. the cause was COVID19, not 7 gun shot wounds.

    This is like the Holinwell Incident on a grand scale. Also the witch trials had a similar hysteria.

  2. brad says:

    Jason,

    I don’t smell hysteria, but I do smell the stench of smoldering anti-science ignorance that flies in the face of national public health experts’ advice.

    Folks talk about “culture wars” when it comes to masks, but I think it more appropriate to call it the “intelligence vs stupidity wars”. Choose a side.

    Of course, when the war is over and the losers try to erect statues to Trump we will need to make sure they are not successful. Would hate to see the continued promotion of moronic leadership.

  3. Wolfgang says:

    Reform Austin just pushed out this item: “Texas Restaurant Association urges Statewide Mandatory Mask Order” apparently the first industry group to do so.
    https://www.reformaustin.org/coronavirus/texas-restaurant-association-urges-statewide-mask-order/

    Also, by way of commentary, remember that Abbott previously sat on the Texas Supreme Court. So he is well-schooled in the fine art of making up the law (decision rule or interpretation) after the fact, and claim the rule was in effect all along. Those affected were just too stupid to properly discern the “correct” reading. And so it goes with his prior executive orders. Make it vague or contradictory, or have the AG offer a divergent take on it, so later the 6 brethren and 3 lady justices of kindred spirit can validate the chosen interpretation urged by AG Ken Paxton with the benefit of hindsight.

    Some rule of law!

  4. C.L. says:

    If you hate wearing a mask, you’re really going to hate a respirator.

    I’m wearing a mask everywhere I go, regardless of any mandate. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  5. Flypusher says:

    I’m wearing a mask, doing take-out, and increasing the tip.

  6. Jason Hochman says:

    I usually carry a mask with me, in case I want to go into a place. It’s not so hard to carry and put it on. I don’t know how face covering is going to work when you open restaurants and bars for dine in. Does it make a difference if you walk in with a mask, order, and then take off the mask for an hour while you eat and drink, I can’t say.

    And, the lawsuits that I mentioned aren’t going to affect me–it is the government getting sued and some businesses that I believe are misinterpreting the laws which do exempt some conditions from the requirement.

    Brad, I don’t know if you are referring to me when you say anti science ignorance. However, let’s just say that I can off the top of my head think of at least three journal papers pertaining to the pandemic that were retracted. They are publishing everything without any review, trying to get it out quickly, which doesn’t help if it then gets retracted. Look up Surgisphere when you have a second.

  7. brad says:

    Jason,

    If you are saying that there are 3 journal papers that were related to the wearing of masks not being effective, and are somehow related to a mass hysteria, please do share those links.

    I am confident that whatever you provide will possibly be, in some way tangentially related, to a discussion of the current health crisis, but wholly indirect to the current discussion of masks.

  8. brad says:

    C.L.

    “If you hate wearing a mask, you’re really going to hate a respirator.”

    This is the funniest comment I’ve read all week. Thanks for the laugh.

  9. Jason Hochman says:

    Brad, actually, one of the retracted papers was one done in S. Korea, which had four subjects and demonstrated that masks were NOT helpful. It was later retracted because the researchers were unaware of the parameters of their own test.

    My comment though, was as you say, not so much directed at wearing masks, but rather, directed at your comment about anti-science ignorance. My point being, that science relating to this crisis is quite confusing, and, at times, sloppy. Unfortunately the entire crisis has been so politicized and so many trying to profit from it. It’s inexcusable when those who have sworn to protect the people are taking risks with the health and safety of the people for personal benefit.

    I read about the lawsuit filed in San Diego. From the article, the suit alleges through numerous studies that wearing cloth masks offer no protection. But, I haven’t read the lawsuit or any papers that may have been referenced in the suit.

    If you are interested I can send you links about retracted papers–one of the papers was the study that said that hydroxychloroquine was unsafe, because it could cause heart attack and heart failure. No need to worry anymore about Trump taking it.

    Oh, and look up Surgisphere if you have a minute.

  10. brad says:

    Jason,

    I agree with you that the politicization of, and attempts to profit from, this public health crisis is obscene.

  11. Jennifer says:

    Are they now handing out N95 masks for everyone? Then anything less is really redundant. False sense of protection is better than none I guess. Proper hygiene, cleaning/sanitizing, and staying away from sick people are next best for protection. What about the next virus? Who is working on that?

    I wear a self made nose and mouth covering when ever I go out in public. I also wash my hands often. I avoid groups of people.

  12. […] know the story. It’s hard for me to say which was more craven, the Shelley Luther flip-flop, or […]

  13. Jason Hochman says:

    brad,
    when the pandemic first started a couple months ago, it almost seemed to me like a chance for many of the necessary positive changes society needs. Although the president remained fixed on the economy, it seemed like a lot of people changed from the more is better thinking, the idea of wanting more stuff, and more money, at whatever cost to the environment, to health, added stress, pollution, traffic/road rage, etc. I noticed the stories about people on balconies singing and playing music together, families staying at home rediscovering cooking, parenting, pets, crafts. Stories about neighbors shopping for an older neighbor. Calling old friends from years ago. Reaching out across international borders.

    Sadly, to my observation, the mindset has changed, although our president has remained steadfast in his focus on the economy, a large part of the public seems to want to forget about the whole thing. I guess we’ve run out of patience with it. The politicians use the crisis for the benefit of their campaigns, and the wealthy use it to gain more wealth. People stopped caring about others to the point that even considering taking a mask to wear in the store is too much trouble. Levels of pollution returning to the pre-pandemic levels. Maybe this is just my observations. Just some of my thoughts.