Mask up

Time for the next step in virus mitigation.

Judge Lina Hidalgo

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo on Wednesday ordered residents to cover their faces in public, the latest effort by local governments to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The new rules, which require residents 10 and older to cover their nose and mouth when outside the home, take effect Monday and last 30 days. Acceptable garments include a homemade mask, scarf, bandana or handkerchief. Medical masks or N-95 respirators are not recommended as they are most needed by first responders and health workers.

Under the order, the county’s 4.7 million residents must cover their faces at all times except when exercising, eating or drinking; the exemptions also include when individuals are alone in a separate single space, at home with roommates or family, or when wearing a mask poses a greater risk to security, mental or physical health. Violating the mask rules is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, though Hidalgo urged police to use discretion.

Unlike previous restrictions announced by the city and county executives, Hidalgo’s mask order drew fierce, partisan rebuke, highlighting what has become a national political divide over coronavirus restrictions.


Employers at businesses deemed essential under Harris County’s stay-at-home order must provide face coverings and training to workers whose jobs require them to come into contact with colleagues or the public. Hidalgo has yet to determine whether to extend the stay-at-home rules, which expire April 30.

Hospitalization data suggests the curve of new cases is flattening here, Hidalgo said at a news conference Wednesday. The region still is susceptible to another wave of infections, she warned.

“If we get cocky, we get sloppy, we get right back to where we started, and all of the sacrifices people have been making have been in vain,” Hidalgo said while wearing a homemade mask. “Let’s not get complacent. Let’s remember that we still have work to do.”

Hidalgo said the mask rules were spurred by her team’s realization the outbreak would require a long-term health response that extends beyond the end of stay-home rules.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner endorsed Hidalgo’s plan. He thanked residents for their sacrifices to date and said he would announce a plan Thursday to distribute 70,000 masks to vulnerable residents.

Masks are a crucial tool to prevent a surge in cases as businesses and public spaces reopen, said Firas Zabaneh, an infectious disease expert at Houston Methodist. He said they also serve as a visual reminder to maintain social distancing.

“The public will be safer with masks on,” Zabaneh said. “As we ease the restrictions, more and more people are going to be interacting with each other.”

The Centers for Disease Control recommends wearing masks when social distancing is not possible, such as at a grocery store. Many people who have coronavirus do not show symptoms, and the disease can be spread through speaking, coughing or sneezing.

I omitted all the partisan criticism, which included a particularly whiny response from the police union president, because sniveling is pathetic and life is short. As the story notes, Laredo and Dallas and San Antonio have issued similar orders without any of the fuss; I’ll leave it to you to decide why the same thing from Judge Lina Hidalgo inspired such vitriol. The police guy went running to AG Ken Paxton to ask if she was allowed to do that, and he demurred, while reminding the cops that they do have the discretion to not issue citations.

Anyway, look. The way forward with this pandemic, certainly until we have an effective treatment regimen and eventually a vaccine, is going to include things like masks, plus continued social distancing and universal testing and a whole lot more hand sanitizer and bleach wipes. This is the new normal, whether we like it or not. It would be nice if everyone went along with this willingly, but we’ve already seen that a significant portion of the population doesn’t take any of this seriously. This is where we are.

Galveston and Montgomery Counties have not followed suit. For what it’s worth, they were behind the curve in issuing stay-at-home orders, too. With Greg Abbott’s forthcoming order to “reopen” the economy, it’s possible that Hidalgo’s order will be quite short-lived, since Abbott seems to have remembered that he doesn’t like letting local governments do things. As is so often the case lately, I have no idea what happens next. Buckle up, it’s gonna be bumpy. The Press has more.

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35 Responses to Mask up

  1. Charly Hoarse says:

    Good that the Lege hasn’t banned the Niqāb yet.

  2. Jason Hochman says:

    Charly, West Virginia has a mask law, making it illegal to wear masks in public, although religious, health, and traditional costumes are exempted.

    Good to know that only those over 10 can spread the virus. I couldn’t understand what she was saying through her mask, but I remember that one doctor that works for the federal government saying that masks can do more harm than good.

    I have asked for a halt to construction, but the county doesn’t listen.

    “We get cocky, we get sloppy,” what kind of language is this for some elected person to be using. When you elect people based on their gender, gender dysphoria, or race, you get this, someone who can’t relate to working people because they have lived a life of privilege and never had a job before age 35. This is exactly what allowed Trump to capitalize on disaffected voters and con his way into office, and now look what we’ve got.

  3. Jules says:

    Jason, nobody needs your misogyny.

  4. voter_worker says:

    The comment thread of this Chronicle article is chock full of Breitbartians and Foxhounds.

  5. Jason Hochman says:

    Jules, what misogyny? I don’t believe in electing people on the basis of their gender, or race, or any other group that you wish to put them into. That’s not misogyny. In fact what is misogynistic is thinking that you need to vote for someone just because she is a woman, or that women need some extra boost to get elected. It is also misogynistic to define successful women as women who try to do things that men have traditionally done, rather than celebrating women for doing the things that are unique to womanhood.

  6. Jules says:

    Holy shit, Jason, way to double down. Go away.

  7. brad says:


    I think you looked up misogyny in the wrong dictionary. Or your interpretation of the definition may be a little too interpretive.

    Is there a link to the Republican dictionary you can provide us?

  8. Jason Hochman says:

    I define it as hatred of women, or prejudice against women. It is prejudice against women to believe that they need to compete with men in order to be successful. All of the people who, for example, believe raising children is “boring” “waste of time” and the like, that is misogyny.

  9. Jules says:

    What about people who think you are a boring waste of time?

  10. Bill Daniels says:

    Lina la Eploradora is just having fun, playing at being an adult, trying to do adult things, and failing miserably. This is what happens when the teacher designates one 3rd grader to be in charge of the class while she goes out to smoke a cigarette. The 3rd grader in charge starts feeling his own oats and starts belting out edicts.

    Harris County, I’m embarrassed for you.

  11. Jules says:

    I’m embarrassed for the whole country, that idiot Trump wants to inject people with disinfectant. Or light.

  12. Jules says:

    If your mom got corona, would you:

    a) let trump inject her with bleach, or

    b) you hate your moms

  13. C.L. says:

    Yup, bring back good old Ed Emmett, that old white guy who would have copulated with the Astrodome given the opportunity. I can imagine him standing at the lectern now, telling us to pray away this insidious virus.

    Bill, I’m sure Harris County feels your scorn, but doesn’t give a shit.

  14. voter_worker says:

    Bill, are you ever going to apologize to us for your relentless hyping of hydroxychloroqine complemented by your denigration of any and all doubters now that its efficacy against COVID-19 is becoming contrindicated?

  15. Bill Daniels says:


    Do you want the Dem. Party to censure me, too?

    Party line uber alles, even if it kills us, amirite?

    Wanna bet that if Trump hadn’t touted this treatment, we wouldn’t be treating it like a partisan issue, it would just be a treatment people use?

  16. Pingback: Hotze sues Harris County again – Off the Kuff

  17. Manny says:

    Bill lite, Jason, and Bill Daniels on the same side why does that not surprise me? Paid trolls who have nothing better to do then spread hate and lies.

    Bill Daniels on Judge Hidalgo, “People need to know about the unintended consequences of diktats issued by a twenty something woman with no experience in life.”

  18. Manny says:

    Jason and Bill, may I suggest that since old senile white men or more your cup of tea, that both of you try Trump’s new suggestion.

    After Bryan talked about experiments in which, he said, disinfectants like bleach and isopropyl alcohol quickly killed the virus, Trump mused about whether disinfectants could be used to treat the virus in humans — asking whether there is “a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning.”

    Both of you could try bleach or Pine Sol, and let us know if the injection into your bodies made you immune. He also suggested alcohol.

    Bill and Jason, I just realized that both of you may be dumb enough to do it, don’t do it, it could kill you.

  19. Jules says:

    Bill, that is an anecdotal story and nobody is saying hydroxychloroquine kills everyone.

    I am not injecting myself with bleach or sticking light bulbs up my behind, and not because trump touts these ideas, but because they are bad ideas no matter who touts them.

    Even Fox news is backing off the hydroxychloroquine.

  20. Bill Daniels says:

    You guys are laughably predictable. Don’t you find it convenient that your responses are pretty much the same party line from the Chinese Communist Party? WHO makes a whole bunch of false and misleading announcements early on that perfectly coincide with Chinese interests. Even down to the naming. Remember Spanish Flu? I bet if Spain had been in control of the WHO at the time they would have named it something else. Calling it the Wuhan virus? Racist! Never speak of that again! Wow. The CCP appreciates your compliance on this matter.

    Have y’all ever heard of chemotherapy? Wow! People literally inject themselves with poison? For medical reasons? Unpossible. As to the UV rays as a disinfectant, yes, that’s a real thing, especially UV-C. That’s used to disinfect buses, for example. If you’ve ever been to a health care facility, you might have already seen UV lights in use to….disinfect the air.

    Again, this is the kind of thing that, in a non TDS infected world, wouldn’t be political…..but here we are.

  21. Jason Hochman says:

    Wearing a mask is a small thing, but there was an NIH doctor who said that it could actually cause you to get sick. He said that you might adjust your mask a lot, and inadvertently put germs on your face and then breathe them in. As well, a surgical or paper mask is not meant to be used over and over. There is no way to disinfect it properly.

    The mask is to protect other people, not yourself. However, if you aren’t coughing or sneezing, and keep your distance from others, what good does it do? Maybe very little. The mask directive exempts those with breathing problems. Isn’t that excluding those who have coronavirus and are the very people who need to wear the mask? Also, the entire county has had less than 100 deaths from this pandemic, so it is a bit late to start wearing masks.

    My suggestions have been ignored by the county. I would stop all new construction and demolition. There are a few good reasons to do that. We now hear that heat, humidity, and UV light shorten the life of the virus in the air and on surfaces, and slow its spread. I would ban air conditioning. Interior spaces are far more risky to spread germs already. Using AC in them makes them even more dangerous. Plus, the air conditioning uses power which contributes to greenhouse gases. A double win. Turn off your AC forever.

    AT Trump’s briefing the doctors said they were going to try getting UV light into the body, and getting disinfectants in. I think that they were just trying to humor him, but definitely I hope nobody tries it at home.

  22. Jules says:

    Bill, please go away. Nobody needs your ignorance.

    Jason, not sure why the county is ignoring your suggestions. The outlawing AC is a real winner, I can’t see anyone disagreeing with that.

  23. robert says:

    Jason, I currently live in Mexico where the past weeks have been above 105 in the days (with a feels like 125 degrees) is humid and many locals don’t have a/c and the infections are following the same curve as everywhere else. Mexico entered Phase 3 this week.


    Bill, Shut up!

    Your welcome Jules.

  24. Jason Hochman says:

    Jules, nor do I see a reason to shut off AC, it is at least as effective as wearing a mask, and will certainly reduce greenhouse gas. The air around the world has improved as a result of less emissions, and I hope that will continue after this pandemic goes away.

    As for the county, they ignore everyone. The government can’t be bothered to listen to the people who are its putative constituents. As we can see, the county judge does what other jurisdictions do, and the mayor of Houston just follows along with that. No great thinkers, and not based on any research.

  25. Jules says:

    robert, 🙂

  26. voter_worker says:

    Bill, of course we’ve all heard of chemotherapy. You neglected to mention that it is developed by scientists, tested to the nth degree and subject to regulatory approval and administered by medical professionals who have trained for decades and who are employed by institutions that are part of a heavily regulated and scrutinized health care system. Doctor Trump, on the other hand, is none of the above and yet has millions of followers who consider him to be an Oracle of Truth. What could possibly go wrong?

  27. Bill Daniels says:


    Medical professionals can’t even agree on which is better for you, butter or margarine, or whether coffee is good or bad for you. But let’s talk about Dr. Trump. He’s not just pulling things like HQC out of nowhere. He’s getting that info FROM medical people. Trump isn’t a subject matter expert in everything, but he is smart enough to find subject matter experts and listen to them, then make his own call.

    Trump has been right a lot more than he has been wrong, although he occasionally fixates on things that are not right. Remember when he was convinced that we all went out on our boats to go sightseeing during the tax day flood? So he does get things wrong sometimes. Overall, though….I’ll stick with Dr. VSG GEOTUS to guide me. What are my other choices? A 29 year old part time interpreter with pretty hair?

    (please note that the acronyms are meant as light hearted humor, in good fun, not to be taken seriously)

  28. voter_worker says:

    Bill, POTUS is backing away from hydroxychloroquine and he will back away from disinfectant infusions. I look forward to the Biden ads where a serious mom is telling her daughter about the dangers of those bottles with the skull and crossbones on them, then fading to Trump theorizing about disinfectant infusions.

  29. Jules says:

    According to trump, his latest idiotic light and disinfectant statements were just light (and disinfectant) hearted humor, in good fun, not to be taken seriously, just a lil sarcasm for the press.

    Lighten up Lysol, can’t you take a joke? Sheesh.

  30. Manny says:

    From Marc Campos

    “To GOP folks. Your leader wants you to stick a flashlight up your arse and take a couple of tablespoons of Lysol to get rid of COVID-19. For now, Commentary will stick to the less invasive Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s order to cover your face and social distance.”

    Bill and Jason your leader, Trump, has spoken.

  31. Jason Hochman says:

    Manny, I am not a fan of Trump. I don’t see how my opposition to someone else translates as support for Trump. He’s clearly getting worse every day. His briefings shouldn’t even be shown, for obvious reasons. Now he said his disinfectant comments were a joke. He should get an award for his acting performance because he seemed serious, and even the doctors had to humor him and say they were going to try it. The pained expressions on the doctors tell the story.

    Problem is, the bar is low now, that almost anyone is better than Trump, and nobody else is too great.

  32. Bill Daniels says:


    Turns out, a novel delivery system to get UV light into the lungs to treat the Wuhan virus is already in the works. Not sure how you guys got ‘shove a UV light up your ass’ out of that, but as always, I will not participate in kink shaming here, you folks do you.

  33. Manny says:

    Jason that is what Bill claims, if only I could believe either one of you.

    To add to the misinformation that Bill too often posts, the virus does a lot of funny things to the lungs and other organs, not to mention strokes on young people.

    That article indicates that they have been working on it for years, so if they knew the pandemic was coming why did the idiot in the White House, know. Since Bill is up to date on everything why didn’t he warn us in January, instead of arguing the rodeo should not be close.

    All Bill does, like most trolls would do, is gather information to justify the stupidity of Trump. Bill may not be a troll, but he sure acts like a Trump paid troll.

  34. Jules says:

    Lol, Bill, how many times have you accidentally posted in this local political blog instead of

  35. robert says:

    “(please note that the acronyms are meant as light hearted humor, in good fun, not to be taken seriously)”

    Dennis Miller is the only Republican comedian …..does he even perform anymore….humor is def not your thing.

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