HOUSTON – Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Attorney Christian Menefee spoke out on Thursday at a news conference after the State Court of Appeals announced they upheld the county’s ability to impose mask mandates.
The court ruled that local health officials do have the authority to issue mask mandates in schools, daycare centers, and businesses, even if there is no mandate in place.
Hidalgo said that it’s “an important victory to public health,” however, it’s the first of many court battles.
“Right now, parents, teachers [and] small business owners are struggling with yet another spike of the epidemic,” she said. “Now, this very transmissible omicron variant. And what we need is clear guidance outside of the culture war. So, we’re pleased the courts have stepped in to help us do just that.”
Hidalgo warned that the county is “at the cusp” of reaching the highest level of Harris County’s COVID-19 threat level to Red. She cited hospitalizations are on the rise within the county.
Hidalgo says she expects the state to appeal the ruling.
Governor Abbott’s office issued a statement in response saying:
“Governor Abbott’s resolve to protect the liberties of all Texans has not wavered. Attorney General Paxton is already pursuing Supreme Court review to defend Executive Order GA-38 and overturn this latest copycat decision from a lower court in Austin. The Governor’s executive order remains in full effect until those appeals are resolved, which means local mask mandates are still illegal under Texas law.”