Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra issued an executive order mandating face coverings in public places effective June 22.
At a June 18 press conference in front of the Hays County Historic Courthouse, Becerra announced face coverings will be required for all people aged 10 and up in public spaces.
Face coverings will not be required for outdoor physical activity such as exercise, when driving alone or with passengers of the same household, when pumping gas, operating outdoor equipment or eating and drinking. The order is set to expire July 20.
Becerra began the conference by stating Hays County is set to report 210 new positive cases of COVID-19. Becerra later criticized Gov. Greg Abbott’s response to the virus and how it has led to residents not taking the virus seriously.
“The governor believed by recommending social distancing, face masks and hand washing, our citizens would take it seriously. Unfortunately, the opposite has happened,” Becerra said. “People started to relax, people started to see fewer masks being worn and less and less distancing. There is no coincidence that as we relaxed our good practices, we started to see positive cases increase.”
Becerra said this temporary measure is being taken to mitigate the growing number of COVID-19 cases.
“Keeping our local businesses open to reignite our economy is a priority, but we will never compromise public health,” Becerra said.
In response to Abbott stating counties have always had the ability to issue executive orders such as mandating face coverings, Becerra said it took a lot of work and a large team of attorneys and government employees to make the action happen.
“It may have always been there, but we didn’t always know about it and it wasn’t highlighted for us either,” Becerra said. “Just as fast as [Bexar County] Judge Wolff found the path, I immediately joined in. I think I’m the second judge to [mandate face coverings] and I bet you anything I won’t be the last.”
The University Star’s live stream of the event can be viewed here:
Ruben Becerra holds a press conference to announce a COVID-19-related executive order. https://t.co/G9rQqfooUL
— The University Star (@UniversityStar) June 18, 2020
The University Star will continue to provide COVID-19 updates as any additional information is released.
Individuals concerned about possible exposure to COVID-19 are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider or the Hays County Local Health Department at 512.393.5520. For additional information about COVID-19, visit the Texas Department of State Health Services or the Centers for Disease Control website.
The University Star’s COVID-19 coverage can be found here.