In a taped message released today, the governor explained that due to a "swift and substantial spike in COVID cases" - one that coincided with his phased reopening of Texas businesses that offered guidance but not mandates on public safety protocols, and little enforcement tools for local authorities - "danger zones have been triggered", thus necessitating the face covering requirement.
But faced with dramatically rising numbers of both newly confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus and the number of patients so sick they needed to be hospitalized, Abbott changed course with Thursday's mask order.
The governor issued an executive order Thursday, July, mandating the use of face coverings as the least restrictive means available to protect Texans from the COVID-19 virus.
He announced that he issued a proclamation giving mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on some outdoor gatherings of over 10 people and mandating that individuals must keep a social distance of six feet.
The move is a sharp reversal of his earlier stance, when he prevent Texas city mayors from enacting mask requirements.
President Donald Trump said yesterday he was "all for masks", a shift in tone to his reluctance to wear a face covering in public, though he maintained mandatory mask rules were unnecessary.
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State TV reported there could be more blasts because there were a number of oxygen tanks remaining in the clinic. In a TV interview, Maleki said the explosion occurred as gas canisters caught fire in the clinic's basement.
Texas reported its second-worst day of the pandemic with nearly 8,000 new cases and a surge in hospital admissions.
Scofflaws may face fines of $250, under the governor's order.
The rate of people testing positive for the virus has gone from 4.5% in late May to 14%, Abbott said. After reopening bars in the state on May 22nd, many areas in Texas began seeing COVID-19 cases climbing up again.
While the Governor believes this was the right action to take to help try and stop the spread of the virus among people, many bar owners strongly disagree. "Texans are still getting sick". "As we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the State is committed to ensuring that our hospitals have the resources they need to continue providing care to Texans across the state".
The Texas Medical Association applauded the mask order.
This story has been corrected to remove references to it being a statewide mask order, and to show that the TMA had urged the state GOP to cancel its in-person convention not just require masks.