Dallas County, a leftist hub in the red state of Texas, is doing everything in its power to defy Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates in the state, but will the Republican official do anything about it?
After issuing a statewide mask mandate last July, then revoking it this spring, Abbott issued an executive order in May banning mask mandates by government entities such as counties, cities, school districts, and health officials across the Lone Star State. Any local government that defied the order and required face coverings outside of nursing homes, hospitals, or jails, which are all exempt from the rule, could be fined up to $1,000.
“This executive order shall supersede any face-covering requirement imposed by any local governmental entity or official, except as explicitly provided…,” the order stated.
This week, however, Dallas Independent School District proudly announced that it would require face coverings for teachers and students, who are at lower risk of getting or transmitting COVID-19 than they are the seasonal flu. Superintendent Michael Hinojosa brushed off the threat of a fine by telling Dallas Morning News that “All this is going to play itself out, and we’re not going to be the only ones taking this action.”
A Dallas district judge previously issued a temporary restraining order on Tuesday blocking Abbott’s executive order from enforcement. Shortly after, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins issued a new mask mandate for the county on Wednesday stating that face coverings are required in schools, daycares, businesses, stores, restaurants, and any Dallas County building
“We are all team public health and the enemy is the virus,” Jenkins said. “Right now, the enemy is winning.”
When asked whether Abbott plans to take action or speak out against the school district’s willingness to defy his executive order, his office merely reiterated that “parents and guardians have the right to decide whether their child will wear a mask or not, just as with any other decision in their child’s life.”
“We are all working to protect Texas children and those most vulnerable among us, but violating the Governor’s executive orders—and violating parental rights—is not the way to do it. Governor Abbott has been clear that the time for mask mandates is over; now is the time for personal responsibility,” Abbott’s Press Secretary Renae Eze said in a statement to The Federalist. “…The best defense against this virus is the COVID vaccines, and we continue to strongly encourage all eligible Texans to get vaccinated.”
She also said that the governor’s office is working with the Office of the Attorney General to enforce the order but did not offer any specific plan of action.
“The Office of the Attorney General has successfully defended the Governor’s executive orders in the past, and we are confident they will do so again,” Eze said.
The Texas Office of the Attorney General did not respond to The Federalist’s request for comment by press time.