Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order on July 29 that prohibits local governments in the state from issuing specific mandates related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The order was issued to provide “uniformity and certainty” across the state related to COVID restrictions and provides that vaccine passports are not allowed. No local government can mandate the use of masks. The order overrides any conflicting local demands in existence.
Gov. Abbott stated, “The new Executive Order emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates. Texans have the individual right and responsibility to decide for themselves and their children whether they will wear masks, open their businesses, and engage in leisure activities. Vaccines, which remain in abundant supply, are the most effective defense against the virus, and they will always remain voluntary, never forced in the State of Texas.”
The order did not please everyone, and Democratic Austin Mayor Steve Adler was distraught.
In an interview with CBS Austin, Adler said, “What’s happening with COVID right now in our community is pretty darn scary. It’s just fundamentally wrong for the Governor to ignore the science and the data.”
Adler threatened to take the Governor to court over the order, stating: “Twice the district court allowed the local health authority and local elected officials to move forward with orders that were not consistent with the Governor’s order. We can certainly go there and do it a third time.”
The mayor linked COVID deaths with the lack of local vaccine mandates, adding, “Everyone on ventilators is the people that are not vaccinated, and the fact that we have so many people that are unvaccinated means we have a very fertile ground for the virus to expand in our community.”
Adler spoke in support of mask mandates in public locations and public schools. He stated, “The more places that require masks, the better off we are. I think it would be great if people running large venues required masks.”
“If I were a parent right now, I would want my child to go to school masked, and I would want other people in the classroom also to be masked. I would be reaching out to my school district right now,” Adler continued.
Even in Texas’ larger cities like Austin, most residents have decided to stop wearing masks in public, and all are making personal decisions about the vaccine. The Governor’s order is designed to preserve individual responsibility. There are no reports about whether Mayor Adler will go ahead with a lawsuit against the Governor.