Officials in San Antonio and Bexar County can temporarily issue mask mandates, despite Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) order prohibiting local governments and school districts in the state from requiring masks, Judge Antonia Arteaga ruled on Tuesday.
San Antonio and Bexar County filed a lawsuit on Tuesday morning requesting a temporary restraining order blocking Abbott’s action, with officials wanting to make masks mandatory inside public schools and municipal buildings. Arteaga said she did not take her decision lightly, The Texas Tribune reports, citing the school year starting and public guidance from Dr. Junda Woo, health director of San Antonio’s Metropolitan Health District, who said masks are necessary in schools as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads in the state.
Another hearing on the matter is set for Monday, but Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzalez said during a press conference that “for now, we’re going to take a victory lap, we’re very happy with the result that we got today.” Renae Eze, a spokeswoman for Abbott’s office, said the governor’s “resolve to protect the rights and freedoms of all Texans has not wavered.”
The Delta variant is behind a surge in COVID-19 cases across Texas, with the state reporting a positivity rate of 18.1 percent. The COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States have not yet been approved for children under 12, and with the school year starting, districts and teachers associations have been calling for mandatory masks on campus.
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