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Judge Hidalgo Orders Harris County Residents to Wear Face Coverings for 30 Days


April 22, 2020

By Jennifer Miko

Today, Judge Lina Hidalgo announced an Order that Harris County residents must wear face coverings when outside the home, effective Monday. As part of the Order, Harris County residents in violation of the face covering rules could be fined up to $1000.

As local residents prepare for Texas to near the projected peak of the coronavirus curve, government leaders continue to provide specific orders and guidelines. Last Friday, Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Orders for the state to slowly return to “business as normal.”

In a press conference this afternoon, Judge Hidalgo announced that residents of unincorporated Harris County and Houston would be required to wear face coverings when outside of the home. The order will go into effect Monday, April 27 and last for 30 days.

“This is not a recommendation, this is a requirement,” says Judge Hidalgo.

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.

Judge Hidalgo said the required face covering Order would apply to residents 10 years and older. She explained that she’s not suggesting everyone purchase medical-grade masks or wear N-95 masks. Those masks should be reserved for healthcare providers. Instead, the Judge suggested using a scarf or bandana, for example, to make sure the nose and mouth are covered.

Restrictions to the face covering include people who have health and mental health conditions that prohibit them from safely wearing a covering. Other allowances for not wearing a covering include eating, driving and exercising alone.

“We are making progress doing all that we are doing,” says Judge Hidalgo. “If we get cocky, if we get sloppy, we get back to where we started. Let’s not get complacent, we still have work to do.”

Social Distancing Should Still Be Observed

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner echoed Judge Hidalgo’s message for residents to be cautious and said face coverings do not replace social distancing. Residents should still be observing the “stay home, work safe” orders in place.

“We are also doing this so we can get our economy open and keep it open,” says Judge Hidalgo. “We have to use every tool in the toolbox if we get complacent people die and it takes longer for the economy to recover.”

Testing Strongly Encouraged

Judge Hidalgo also encouraged residents to get tested for the virus, calling this heroic act as a small, but powerful action. She and the Mayor reminded residents that even if they are not symptomatic, they can still carry the virus.

“If we do this, we can get that curve where it needs to be so that it’s sustainable,” says Judge Hidalgo. “Each of you is a force multiplier in this effort. Things are looking up and we have to keep at it.”

COVID-19 Statistics from the Harris County Public Health Department (as of publication)

Houston and Harris County Combined

  • 5211 confirmed cases

  • 3805 active cases

  • 1326 recovered

  • 80 deaths

CDC Recommendations on Cloth Face Coverings

For weeks, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has suggested people wear cloth face coverings in public places where they cannot maintain social distancing. The organization suggests that these protective coverings can be created with household items.

On their website, the CDC “advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.”

The CDC recommends that cloth face coverings do the following:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face

  • be secured with ties or ear loops

  • include multiple layers of fabric

  • allow for breathing without restriction

  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

To fashion a homemade mask, visit for instructions.


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