Harris County residents will be required to wear face coverings in public beginning April 27

Harris County residents will be required to wear face coverings when out in public for at least 30 days beginning April 27. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Harris County residents will be required to wear face coverings when out in public for at least 30 days beginning April 27. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Harris County residents will be required to wear face coverings when out in public for at least 30 days beginning April 27. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Harris County residents will be required to wear face coverings while out in public beginning Monday, April 27, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced April 22.

The requirement will apply to residents who are 10 years of age or older and will be in effect for 30 days, or until May 26. Hidalgo said those who are found to not be in compliance with the order will be charged a fine, however she did not specify a fine amount.

"We are making progress but they are digging mass graves in New York; they are going, still, through a very difficult time and we are doing all that we are doing so that we never get there and we continue to make progress," Hidalgo said. "If we get cocky, we get sloppy, we get right back to where we started and all of the sacrifices that people have been making have been in vain. So as we see that hospital admissions curve flatten, let's not get complacent; let's remember that we still have work to do."

Hidalgo listed homemade masks, scarves, bandanas and handkerchiefs as examples of acceptable face coverings to use in place of medical masks or N95 masks, as those are needed for the health care sector.

"The order will make exceptions, of course, for folks with health or mental health conditions that would be exacerbated by wearing a covering," Hidalgo said. "It will make allowances for people exercising alone, for people driving, for people eating."


HIdalgo added that while the order does not apply for children under the age of 10, face coverings are still encouraged for that population as well.

"Face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing," she said. "We still have to continue to keep that distance from one another and we are still under a Stay Home, Work Safe order so we should not be out unless absolutely necessary and if we do this, we will get that curve down to where it needs to be to where we can actually begin reopening things and do so in a way that is sustainable."

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said through a partnership with Lone Star College, the city of Houston would open one face covering distribution site in northwest Houston on April 23, to be followed by others. That same day, Turner said he will announce a plan to provide more than 70,000 face coverings to people in Houston's vulnerable communities, during a press conference at City Hall at 3 p.m.

"The evidence is clear: wearing a face covering will help slow the spread of this coronavirus and can save lives, and wearing a face covering protects other people from you because you do not know if you are a carrier and can transmit the virus," Turner said.

The order has already garnered criticism from Joe Gamaldi, president of the Houston Police Officers' Union FOP Lodge 110. In a letter released April 22 prior to Hidalgo's announcement, Gamaldi said while the HPOU does believe everyone should be wearing masks while in public and is encouraging its officers to do the same, the entity does not approve of Hidalgo's order.

"However, we draw the line at the draconian measures Hidalgo has decided to engage in," the letter reads. "Our officers work every single day to bridge the gap with our community and earn their trust, we will not stand idly by and allow Hidalgo to tear that bridge down with her horrific leadership and echo chamber decision making."

The letter continues to say the HPOU has contacted the Attorney General's Office seeking an opinion on the legality of improving a criminal penalty/fine for anyone not wearing a mask in public.

"Houston police officers are already stretched too thin during the COVID-19 pandemic," the letter reads. "Violent crime is up this year (murders up by 35%), property crime is up (burglaries by nearly 30%), and HPD officers are staffing testing centers across the city. We do not have time to be pawns in Hidalgo's game of attempting to control the actions of law abiding, tax paying individuals of our community."

Hidalgo addressed the letter during the press conference later that day.

"Everything we do, we run first through the health professionals—we wouldn't be doing this if the health professionals weren't telling us that this is necessary and this will make a difference and following that advice, we've saved over 45,000 lives," Hidalgo said. "Second, of course, we run it by the lawyers and our attorneys are confident that this falls within our jurisdiction ... major cities, major counties in Texas have already done this."

Gamaldi added that while the HPOU waits for an opinion from the Attorney General's Office, they are reminding officers to use their own discretion regarding enforcement of the face mask order.

As of April 22, Harris County and the city of Houston combined have 5,211 confirmed coronavirus cases. Of those, 3,805 cases are active, 1,326 cases have recovered and 80 cases have resulted in death.

"This is not about winning a game; this is about getting through the season," Hidalgo said.

For more information on how to make a face covering at home, click here. For more information on Harris County's coronavirus case count, click here.

By Hannah Zedaker
Born and raised in Cypress, Texas, Hannah Zedaker graduated from Sam Houston State University in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in mass communication and a minor in political science. She began as an intern with Community Impact Newspaper in 2015 and was hired upon graduation as a reporter for The Woodlands edition in May 2016. In January 2019, she was promoted to serve as the editor of the Spring/Klein edition where she covers Spring ISD and Harris County Commissioners Court, in addition to business, development and transportation news.


MOST RECENT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended health providers pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine April 13. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
State, federal health authorities recommend pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after 6 rare, severe blood clots

Hub providers in Dallas, Harris and Travis counties have all announced they will follow the recommendations and pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Located at 26303 Preston Ave., Ste. C, Spring, Wet My Plant will offer a wide selection of tropical plants, cacti, succulents and more. (Courtesy Wet My Plant)
Indoor plant nursery Wet My Plant coming soon to Old Town Spring

Wet My Plant owners Jessica Cohen and Colin Gardipee are planning to open the second location of their Houston-based indoor plant nursery May 1 in Old Town Spring.

Priscilla Lashley, a KISD parent, hold a photo of Superintendent Jenny McGown maskless at a recent North Houston Association event. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Parents criticize Klein ISD's mask policy

“Everyone should have the right to make their own choices, and I support being able to make your own choices, but I don't support any hypocrisy,” Priscilla Lashley, a KISD parent, said during the meeting.

Nearly 3,700 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Cy-Fair ISD during the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
86 COVID-19 cases confirmed in Cy-Fair ISD schools April 5-11

As of April 12, the district is reporting 91 active cases and 3,601 recoveries.

Armored Sports camps feature basketball, flag football and more. (Courtesy Pexels)
Armored Sports camps to launch in venues across Greater Houston

A new Christian sports camp for youth is launching this summer in churches across the Greater Houston area.

More than 150,000 vaccines have been administered in the Spring and Klein areas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Spring, Klein vaccine rollout: 2 ZIP codes have vaccinated 50% of their population

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 159,066 doses have been administered, and 57,456 residents have been fully vaccinated.

"Breaking Strongholds" is a faith-based, eight-episode series that explores topics such as suicide and depression. (Courtesy Terry Weaver)
Series shot in Montgomery County aiming for Hulu, Netflix deal and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

The Spring ISD board of trustees will consider extending the 2021-22 school year calendar and school day for six select campuses, at its April 13 regular board meeting. (Screenshot via Zoom)
Spring ISD to consider extending 2021-22 instructional calendar, school day for select campuses at April 13 board meeting

Affected campuses include Clark Primary, Clark Intermediate, Bammel Elementary, Bammel Middle, Eickenroht Elementary and Major Elementary schools.

Active COVID-19 cases continue to level out in Spring and Klein ISDs. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Spring, Klein ISDs continue to see steady COVID-19 cases

Both districts have seen a relatively steady plateau effect since returning from spring break.

The temporary waiver covering initial vehicle registration, vehicle registration renewal, vehicle titling, renewal of permanent disabled parking placards and 30-day temporary permits will end April 14. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
DMV officials say no grace period following waiver of car title, registration; new housing set for Magnolia, Cypress

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Houston area.

While there are not many Spring- and Klein-area races in the upcoming May 1 election, there are a few local utility districts that will have items on the ballot for voters to consider. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Spring-Klein-area park bonds, municipal utility district directors on May 1 ballot

While there are not many Spring- and Klein-area races in the upcoming May 1 election, there are a few local utility districts that will have items on the ballot for voters to consider.

Construction is underway on the office condo project. (Rendering courtesy Read King Commercial Real Estate)
Office condo project coming soon to Vintage Marketplace

The new offices are within walking distance of restaurants such as Ambriza Social Mexican Kitchen and Bellagreen.