The face coverings order, first signed into law June 19 by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, requires all businesses in the county that serve the public to have a plan in place that requires anyone age 10 and older to wear face coverings. Commissioner Jack Cagle and Steve Radack voted against the extension.
The ability to issue a face covering order is one of the powers granted to Hidalgo by the disaster declaration, so long as it does not contradict any orders put in place at the state level. Several other counties and cities has passed similar orders, including Bexar County, Dallas County and the city of Austin.
Hidalgo originally requested to extend the order through July 15, but amended it during the meeting to have it extend to the day after a scheduled Aug. 25 Commissioners Court meeting.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia, who suggested a 60-day extension to the end of August, said he would rather Hidalgo focus on navigating the pandemic without having to worry about redoing the disaster declaration at every meeting.
"We don’t know the full nature and impact of this virus, and you’re dealing with a medical emergency that has a lot of aspects to it," Garcia said.
Experts have said the wearing of face coverings is a crucial tool to slowing the spread of the coronavirus, especially in situations where social distancing is difficult.
Commissioners passed several other coronavirus-related items during the meeting, including funding for the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office to hire 10 people to help respond to violations of pandemic-related orders, including the face coverings order and orders that mandate businesses, such as bars, must close.
Officers have received 857 complaints from more than 600 unique addresses since the mask order was put in place in Harris County, Fire Marshal Laurie Christensen said.