Abbott assumed control over coronavirus response statewide April 27 when he lifted the state’s stay-home order. During a press conference outlining the state’s reopening plan, he announced that his decisions supersede those made by local officials.
Turner, along with mayors of Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso, Arlington, Plano and Grand Prairie, signed the letter addressed to Abbott on June 16.
“A one-size-fits-all approach is not the best option,” the letter states. “We should trust local officials to make informed choices about health policy. And if mayors are given the opportunity to require face coverings, we believe our cities will be ready to help reduce the spread of this disease.”
In late April, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued an order requiring residents to wear facial coverings in public settings, but the potential fines and penalties associated with it were ultimately overridden by Abbott.
"We strongly recommend that everyone wear a mask," Abbott said in a statement issued April 27. "However, it's not a mandate, and we made clear that no jurisdiction can impose any type of penalty or fine.”
As of the evening of June 16, Abbott had not publicly responded to the specific requests in the mayors’ letter; however, he hosted a midday press conference addressing concerns over rising coronavirus case counts across the state.
"Because you may have it and not know it, that is why it is so important for you to wear a face mask when you go out to make sure that if you happen to be an asymptomatic COVID-19 person, you are doing the right thing by wearing a face mask so that you’re not spreading COVID-19 to somebody else," Abbott said during the press conference.
Texas on June 16 saw the highest daily positive COVID-19 case count yet, 2,622 cases.
View the full letter here: