On May 1st, Texas Governor Greg Abbott decided to follow the Republican line and reopen the state of Texas. He eliminated requirements in place for social distancing and the wearing of face masks, and by the middle of May he had opened all businesses to serve the public at 50% capacity.
Things went OK for a while. But the COVID-19 virus takes a while to incubate, and near the end of June the number of new cases started to get out of hand (see chart above from The COVID Tracking Project).
In July, the governor finally realized he had made a serious mistake. On July 2nd, he issued an executive order requiring the wearing of face masks in most Texas counties (those with at least 20 cases of COVID-19). He did exempt some things to pander to his right-wing base -- the wearing of face masks is NOT required at voting precincts or in churches.
Here is the operative part of the executive order:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the State of Texas, do hereby order the following on a statewide basis effective at 12:0 1 p.m. on July 3, 2020:
Every person in Texas shall wear a Face covering over the nose and mouth when inside a commercial entity or other building or space open to the public, or when in an outdoor public space, wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household; provided, however, that this face-covering requirement does not apply to the following:
- any person younger than 10 years of age;
- any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering;
- any person while the person is consuming food or drink, or is seated at a restaurant to eat or drink;
- any person while the person is (a) exercising outdoors or engaging in physical activity outdoors, and (b) maintaining a safe distance from other people not in the same household;
- any person while the person is driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver;
- any person obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the face covering for security surveillance, screening, or a need for specific access to the face, such as while visiting a bank or while obtaining a personal- care service involving the face, but only to the extent necessary for the temporary removal;
- any person while the person is in a swimming pool, lake, or similar body of water;
- any person who is voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poli watcher, or actively administering an election, but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged;
- any person who is actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship, but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged;
10. any person while the person is giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience; or
11. any person in a county (a) that meets the requisite criteria promulgated