KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
April 24, 2020
By Natalie Cook Clark
Harris County residents will be required to wear a face covering when out in public starting Monday. The order has many residents and officials speaking out against it. Fort Bend County and Waller County will not follow suit but have offered guidance on the recommendation of masks.
Fort Bend Won't Follow Harris County's Mask Order
Fort Bend County Judge KP George says he will not require residents to wear face coverings as Harris County has ordered and will start implementing this Monday, April 27. He does, however, recommend the use of masks.
Fort Bend County Judge Still Recommends Mask Use
“While I am not issuing a specific order, I strongly recommend our residents wear masks in public to stop the spread of the virus, protect the most vulnerable in our community, and reopen the economy. The quickest and easiest way we can prevent more people from getting sick and reopen business is for everyone to wear a cloth mask in public,” the Judge says in a press release issued Thursday.
Risk $1,000 Fine For Failure to Wear Mask
His statement follows Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s issued on Wednesday that will require all Harris County residents to wear face coverings or risk a fine up to $1,000.
“This is not a recommendation, this is a requirement,” says Judge Hidalgo.
Residents, Officials Disagree With Order
Though the order is designed to protect residents from the coronavirus, many took to social media to strongly disagree with the decision. Local officials also were vocal in disagreement.
"This is ridiculous," says Katy resident Patricia Vitello via social media. "With 158 deaths in Houston. This is not necessary. We don’t have thousands of deaths. All deaths are unfortunate. But these leaders are destroying our country. This is an overreaction!"
“We will not trample on the individual rights of Texans to provide a false sense of security,” says Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls. “ I encourage people to wear a mask if they have one, I encourage people to wash their hands frequently, I encourage people to do the right thing to help protect our most vulnerable, but this government MANDATE from Harris County is unnecessary, unconstitutional, and unAmerican.”
The Houston Police Officers’ Union also weighed in on the issue.
“Now we want to be very clear, the Houston Police Officers’ Union believes everyone should be wearing a mask in public, in order to protect themselves from the virus and we are encouraging all of our officers to wear a mask. However, we draw the line at the draconian measures Hidalgo has decided to engage in.”
Harris County Order Starts Monday, Giving Residents Time to Get Masks
Judge Hidalgo said the Order is effective Monday to give people the opportunity to make or get a face covering. However, she added, residents who already have one, should wear it now. The order applies to residents 10-years-old and older.
Harris County recommends that face cloth coverings be created from household items or from common materials such as a t-shirt, scarf, bandana or handkerchief.