July 6, 2020 -- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed an executive order Thursday requiring people to wear facial coverings in public places in counties with 20 or more coronavirus cases.
Abbott had previously encouraged face masks but resisted calls to issue a statewide order, saying such an action would be unfair to rural counties that have reported few cases.
But coronavirus cases have spiked in recent weeks, putting a stress on medical facilities and the economy. On Wednesday, the state reported 8,076 new cases, a state record for a 24-hour period, CNN reported.
“Wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said in a statement. “We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another — and that means wearing a face covering in public spaces.”
The order signed Thursday also gives local officials the power to restrict outdoor gatherings with more than 10 people. The proclamation also says people cannot gather in groups larger than 10 and must practice social distancing.
CNN said the order will affect about two-thirds of the state’s counties.
The surge in cases has caused Abbott to make other changes in his aggressive schedule to reopen the state economy.
Last week he suspended elective surgeries in four hard-hit counties and paused the economic reopening of the state. He said he regretted allowing bars to open so soon because they had proven to be a major cause of community spread.
Texas has reported more than 168,000 coronavirus cases and more than 2,400 deaths.