Texas governor’s ban on mask warrants dealt a second legal blow
Aug. 11 (Reuters) – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask warrants suffered its second legal setback as a Dallas County judge temporarily blocked its enforcement amid a nationwide increase in new ones cases of coronavirus.
Judge Tonya Parker’s temporary order issued Tuesday night allows officials in the state’s second most populous county to demand masks indoors, despite Abbott’s July order against such warrants. A hearing on August 24 will determine whether to extend the temporary order.
Dallas County’s top elected official Judge Clay Jenkins, who sought the court order made Tuesday night, said preventative measures such as mask-wearing are needed to combat a spike in new cases of COVID-19.
“Models predict a dramatic increase in cases and hospitalizations over the next few weeks that will exceed the peak at the start of the year unless a change in behavior takes place,” he said on Twitter on Tuesday. .
The Dallas Independent School District had previously defied Abbott’s order, saying Monday it would demand masks as well.
Earlier Tuesday, another Texas court issued an order at least until Monday that allows San Antonio and Bexar county officials to require masks to be worn in public schools.
Stimulated by the Delta variant, the country’s coronavirus cases peaked in more than six months, according to a Reuters tally. New cases in the United States have more than quintupled in the past month, with the seven-day average reaching 118,000 on Tuesday.
Oregon and Washington state are also grappling with an increase in the number of cases and hospitalizations as the outbreak spreads beyond the epicenter in the southern United States.
On Tuesday, Oregon reported both a record number of hospitalized coronavirus patients as well as its largest single-day increase in cases, with more than 2,300 new infections.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown is expected to announce that all state executive employees should be vaccinated on Wednesday, and she is also expected to reimpose a statewide indoor mask mandate. , according to local media.
In neighboring Washington, cases and hospitalizations have risen sharply so far in August.
Three sparsely populated counties have called on the state’s health department to send a “strike team” after COVID infections tripled in Ferry and Stevens counties and doubled in Pend Oreille County during over the past two weeks, straining local hospitals.
Of those new cases, 97.4% were in residents who were not fully vaccinated, according to the Northeast Tri County Health District website, which asked for help from the state.
The COVID outbreak is still the worst in the southern states based on new cases and per capita hospitalizations in recent weeks.
Arkansas, Florida and Louisiana all report record hospitalizations for COVID-19 in recent days. Mississippi reported a record one-day increase of nearly 3,500 cases on Tuesday, and the number of COVID-19 hospital patients is approaching the state record set in January.
Abbott and fellow Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida have faced local uprisings against their statewide orders that prevent local authorities from deciding whether or not to require masks. Read more
Florida’s Broward County School Board on Tuesday flouted a DeSantis order banning mask requirements in the state, prompting the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, to say it was considering to financially support school districts if DeSantis retaliates against them by withholding funds from civil servants’ salaries.
In the past seven days, Florida had the second highest rate of new infections in the country based on population, while Texas had the 10th highest, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Florida set a record for the number of COVID patients hospitalized for 10 consecutive days, with 15,449 patients on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York and Lisa Shumaker in Chicago; Editing by Frank McGurty
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