Texas high court blocks mask mandates in two of state’s largest counties

The Texas Supreme Court on Sunday blocked mask mandates imposed by two of the state’s most populous counties, which defied Gov. Greg Abbott’s order banning the requirements.

The orders in Dallas and Bexar counties were issued after a lower court ruled last week in favor of local officials and as Covid-19 cases surge in areas like Dallas.

School districts in Harris and Tarrant counties have also defied Abbott’s executive order as students prepare to return to classrooms.

The state attorney general’s office said in a statement Sunday that the orders, which are temporary pending a court hearing, should “serve as a reminder” to all school districts and local officials that the governor’s order “stands.”

“Local mask mandates are illegal,” the statement said.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, the county’s chief executive, who issued the mask mandate, said he intends to win the court hearing. “We won’t stop working with parents, doctors, schools, business + others,” he tweeted.

Officials in San Antonio, in Bexar County, released a similar statement Sunday and said mask mandates for schools and city buildings will remain in effect as officials defend the mandate in court Monday.

Health authorities and university researchers have said masks are an effective way to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Abbott has argued that his executive order prohibiting mandates allows Texans to rely on “personal responsibility rather than government mandates.”

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