Ask 2: How will Texas determine which counties are exempt from Gov. Abbott’s mask order?


HOUSTONAt KPRC 2, we’re dedicated to keeping Houstonians informed. As part of our Ask 2 series, the newsroom will answer your questions about all things Houston.

Question: How will Texas determine which counties are exempt from Gov. Abbott’s statewide mask order issued Thursday?

Answer: Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order Thursday that requires all Texans wear masks or face coverings in public and in businesses beginning Friday at noon. The order has a few exceptions and one of them is that counties with less than 20 coronavirus cases may be exempt.

Per the order, the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) has to keep a list of counties that are exempt from the mask order. However, immediately after the executive order was announced Thursday, that list was blank.

Officials with TDEM told KPRC 2 Thursday that in order for a county to be exempt from the order, the county judge must submit an application to TDEM “affirmatively opting out of the face-covering requirements of (executive order) GA-29.”

Once the application is made by a county judge, the Texas Department of Health and Human Services will verify the county’s active case totals before they are added to the list of counties that may be exempt. This list will be updated each day as more applications are approved.

Until the counties are added to the list, residents are required to adhere to the order and local law enforcement and officials are required to enforce it.

You can see the list here.

Do you have a question about Houston, Texas, coronavirus or the new mask order? Fill out the form below and we will try to get you some answers.