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Gov. Greg Abbott orders Texans in most counties to wear masks in public

The order comes as coronavirus cases continue to surge in the state.

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Gov. Greg Abbott gives an update on Texas hospital bed capacity and the state's strategy for fighting COVID-19 during a press conference at Texas Department of Public Safety in Austin on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Photo credit: Ricardo B. Brazziell/Pool/American-Statesman

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a nearly statewide mask mandate Thursday as Texas scrambles to get its coronavirus surge under control.

The order requires “all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions,” according to Abbott’s office.

The order requires Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth while inside a business or other building open to the public, as well as outdoor public spaces, whenever social distancing is not possible. The order provides several exceptions, including people who are younger than 10 years old, people who have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, people who are eating or drinking and people who are exercising outdoors.

Abbott’s order is effective as of 12:01 p.m. Friday.

Abbott had previously resisted calls for such a statewide requirement but allowed local governments to require businesses to mandate masks.

Abbott on Thursday also banned certain outdoor gatherings of over 10 people unless local officials approve. He had previously set the threshold at over 100 people. The new prohibition also goes into effect Friday afternoon.

Abbott’s latest moves come ahead of Fourth of July weekend, which has raised concerns about larger-than-usual crowds gathering while the state grapples with the virus spike.

This is Abbott’s latest set of moves aimed at trying to get the virus surge under control in Texas. Six days ago, he ordered bars closed and reduced the permitted restaurant occupancy to 50%, among other things.

This developing story will be updated.

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Patrick Svitek is the primary political correspondent for The Texas Tribune, and editor of The Blast, the Tribune's subscription-only daily newsletter for political insiders. Patrick logged countless miles on the 2016 campaign trail, covering the many Texas angles of the momentous presidential race. He previously worked for the Houston Chronicle's Austin bureau. He graduated in 2014 from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. He originally is from Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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august 2020

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