Texas Judges Sign 'Eff Greg Abbott' Orders, Allow Mask Mandates In Dallas, San Antonio
In Texas yesterday, GOP Gov. Greg Abbott asked all hospitals in the state to please put off elective procedures to accommodate more COVID-19 patients, because the Delta variant of the coronavirus has led to a surge in infections. He also said the state health department would bring healthcare workers from other states to help care for the surge of patients with COVID-19, which has left Texas doctors, nurses, and staff overextended and exhausted.
Oh yes, but Abbott also isn't budging on his dumb executive order prohibiting cities and school districts from requiring masks, because public health is none of the government's business. Fortunately, school districts around the state are putting kids' health first and requiring masks anyway. Yesterday, judges in two different Texas courts gave the go-ahead for county leaders in Dallas and Bexar counties to order masking in schools and in county buildings, because why would you prevent schools from keeping kids safe?
In San Antonio, Judge Antonia Arteaga granted the local officials a temporary restraining order blocking Abbott's action. Hours later, Judge Tonya Parker did the same in Dallas.
Soon after, Dr. Junda Woo, medical director of San Antonio's Metropolitan Health District, and San Antonio City Manager Erik Walsh announced that face masks will be required inside Bexar County public schools and San Antonio city facilities.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins (Texas calls elected county leaders "judges" because Texas) announced yesterday that he planned to issue an emergency order today, after he gets "feedback from health, education and business leaders."
The judge-type judges both said the public health needs justified the temporary orders blocking Abbott's ban on mask mandates. Parker got a little tetchy in hers, writing:
"Judge Jenkins cannot be precluded from implementing the mitigation strategies he believes are sound, reliable, and backed by scientific evidence."
"The citizens of Dallas County have and will continue to be damaged and injured by Governor Abbott's conduct," Parker's order said.
Way better than that Judge Parker in the funny papers.
Both orders are temporary, the Texas Tribune explains; Bexar County will have to argue for a more permanent order in a hearing Monday, while Dallas's order will stay in place until August 24 and is also pending a hearing.
Harris County, home to Houston, will also challenge Abbott's ban on mask orders in court, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced yesterday.
Not surprisingly, Abbott's office issued a statement claiming the orders wouldn't hold up in court, because Abbott is simply preserving Texas parents' sacred right to allow their darlings to spread a fatal disease.
"Governor Abbott's resolve to protect the rights and freedoms of all Texans has not wavered," said Renae Eze, a spokeswoman for Abbott's office. "There have been dozens of legal challenges to the Governor's executive orders—all of which have been upheld in the end. We expect a similar outcome when the San Antonio trial court's decision is reviewed by the appellate courts."
In addition to the judicial rulings, several large Texas school systems are also requiring masks in defiance of Abbott's pro-virus order. They include Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio; Houston's school board will vote tomorrow on a mask requirement. Assuming it's approved, that would mean schools in all five of the state's largest cities will have students, teachers, and staff masking up, because public health is more important than indulging the political whims of a governor who wants to appease the far right, hooray.
Also too, an increasing number of school districts in Florida are similarly defying GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis's prohibition on mask mandates, even at the risk of having state education funding withheld. At the White House press briefing yesterday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration is looking for ways to "support districts and schools as they try to follow the signs to do the right thing and save lives."
So that's encouraging, too, even if it leads to a bunch of wingnuts griping about tyranny.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.