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Tarrant County extends mask mandate until at least February amid record COVID spread

Fort Worth Star-Telegram logoFort Worth Star-Telegram 11/25/2020 Brian Lopez, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Tarrant County Judge Whitley on Tuesday extended the county’s mask mandate until at least Feb. 28, 2021.

The Commissioners Court also voted unanimously to extend the declaration of disaster until the same date, which allows the mask order to be in place. Both were set to expire Nov. 30. Whitley originally put the mask order in place on June 25.

Commissioner Roy Brooks was not present.

The declaration of disaster was first enacted on March 13, 2020, in response to the public health emergency as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The order goes hand-in-hand with Gov. Greg Abbott’s July 2 order, which requires people in counties with 20 or more confirmed COVID-19 cases to wear a face mask in buildings and businesses open to the public and outdoors where maintaining six feet of distance from another person isn’t feasible.

The extension comes amid a record-breaking surge of coronavirus cases. The county reported a record 9,838 COVID cases in the past week, surpassing the record of 8,379 set Nov. 8-14.

Vinny Taneja, the county’s public health director, told the commissioners that it took more than 100 days to reach the first 10,000 coronavirus cases. Most recently, it only took a week to record an additional 10,000 cases.

Before extending the mandate, Whitley heard from 62 Tarrant County residents asking him to let the mandate expire. People called the order unconstitutional and compared it to communisum.

Whitley has maintained that wearing a mask is the best way to combat the virus while also having a sense of normalcy. And while cases are rising, hospital executives in the area say that they know how to combat the virus better and the surge doesn’t worry them too much right now.

The judge cited that Baylor, Scott & White-Fort Worth used Bamlanivimab, a drug used in mild and moderate COVID-19 cases. He expects many more hospitals in the area to use this drug to treat the virus.

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©2020 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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