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Debate Rages on Mask Wearing Among Katy Residents


July 1, 2020

By Natalie Cook Clark

Effective today, all shoppers are required to wear masks while shopping in H-E-B, even in counties without mask orders. This announcement adds more fuel to the fire as Katy residents debate about the necessity to wear masks during the coronavirus pandemic. Fort Bend County recently extended its mask order through July 31, and Harris County is expected to extend its order to August 26.

Coronavirus Cases Grow

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to show rising numbers in COVID-19 cases throughout the country, locally, Texas counties struggle to get the spread under control. One recommendation, supported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), suggests wearing face masks or face coverings when out in public and visiting local businesses.

The Debate Goes On

While the Texas Department of State Health Services reported that COVID-19 cases increased by 6,975 from June 29-30, the debate over county requirements for residents to wear masks continues, as seen on Katy Magazine’s Facebook page.

“Smart decision with the escalating numbers,” says Lisa Watters. “I am shocked at the many who don’t seem to get that masks help.”

H-E-B joins the pro-mask movement by requiring all of their shoppers to wear masks, even in counties without a current order in place.

“Over 85% of H-E-B stores are already operating under a mandatory mask ordinance,” Lisa Helfman, H-E-B spokesperson wrote in a statement. “Effective July 1, H-E-B will implement a mandatory mask policy in all stores, including those where a local ordinance is not in place.”

Health Care Community Promotes Masks

Across the country, medical professionals stress the importance of masks in controlling the pandemic. Methodist Health Systems is circulating a graphic that explains the benefits and how masks are helping people stay safe from contracting the virus.

Katy Counties Take a Stand on Masks

Two of the three counties in Katy are currently requiring face masks. Fort Bend County recently extended their mask order through the end of this month. Yesterday, the Harris County Commissioners Court met to discuss the extension of the Disaster Declaration. This extension will extend the county mask order through August 26. This order includes businesses and customers. If a business is found not complying with the order, it can face fines.

Waller County has not issued a mask order however, Waller County Judge Trey Duhon says he personally wears a mask and does recommend it.

“It’s up to each business to make its customers feel safe inside their business. That’s how the free market works. Remember - a business can determine what rules they want to have... (i.e. no shoes, no shirt - no service). And you can decide which businesses you choose to frequent as well,” Duhon’s Facebook post reads.

Despite the different orders, some Katy residents still resist wearing masks.

“Please people educate yourselves,” says Jinan Amra. “Masks don’t protect you. It’s a way of controlling you. I can’t believe this is happening in the USA.”

“This virus is not the black plague,” says Nichole Collins. “Masks are not protecting anyone. If I can smell things through the mask, a virus can get through it. This is all about conditioning the population to do whatever the government says for our ‘safety’ so that later, more and more of our rights will be taken.”

Praise for H-E-B

Still many people are praising H-E-B in their decision and wish it came sooner.

“I wish H-E-B had mandated it months ago,” says Erin Silkenson.

“I think it’s great if they enforce it,” says Marianne Robak.

“As an essential service provider during the pandemic, H-E-B is focused on the health and safety of our Partners, customers and continuous service to our communities,” says Helman. “Masks are a proven way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and allow businesses to operate safely during the pandemic.”

Healthcare professionals are often the most vocal and pro-mask wearing.

Right now, the greatest outward sign we can show of Christian love for our neighbors is very simple and quite visible: Wear a Mask,” says Reverend Ketherine Doehring, a Chaplin with Memorial Herman. “Every day as I go to work as a hospital chaplain, I put on my mask and use it as a time to pray for all I hope it will protect. I pray that when others see it, they will be assured of my love and respect for them.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that of the 10.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, more than 2.5 million of them are in the United States, the highest of any country (nearly twice that of Brazil, which has the second highest number of cases). COVID-19-related deaths worldwide have surpassed 512K, and 126K are from the U.S.

Wearing a Mask is Required in Majority of Texas Counties

As long as the pandemic continues, this debate could as well. Still currently, wearing a mask is an order in the vast majority of Texas counties.

Texas Education Agency announced last week that they have acquired masks and PPE for teachers, staff, and students for when schools start next month. However, Katy ISD has yet to announce if masks will be required in their schools. Some local school districts, such as Alief have already made that announcement.

“I’m so glad our counties are following science and what is working to slow the spread in other areas,” says Katy resident, Marie Phillips.


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