HOUSTON — While Harris County is set to implement a 30-day order requiring face coverings in public starting Monday, other county judges are making it clear they will not mandate residents cover their faces.
The Harris County order requires residents ages 10 and older to cover their nose and mouth when in public. It is set to begin Monday, April 27 and will last for 30 days. Residents who don’t follow the order could face a $1,000 fine.
Galveston County Judge Mark Henry tweeted while covering one’s face in public is recommended by national and local authorities, he will not mandate face coverings, as he believes it is “unconstitutional to do so.”
“Just as critical as getting our economy back up and running, it is important that elected officials uphold their oaths to defend the Constitution and ensure individual freedoms remain intact during and after this pandemic,” he said in a statement.
Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough also said he will not mandate face coverings in public.
“I do not find a statutory or legal basis that would allow me or anyone else in government to issue an order requiring citizens to wear a mask In public, especially under the fear of making it a criminal offense if they don’t,” he said in a video statement.
Judge Keough encouraged residents to respect each other whether they choose to wear a mask and continue practicing social distancing.
Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta also said he will not mandate residents to wear masks in public unless the county health authority strongly recommends it. However, Judge Sebesta highly encourages everyone to wear a mask when out in public.
Fort Bend County Judge KP George said he is not issuing a mandate but still "strong recommends" residents wear masks in public.
Officials in Chambers, Waller and Liberty counties also said they have no such required face covering orders in place.
The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Some patients also have nausea, body aches, headaches and stomach issues. Losing your sense of taste and/or smell can also be an early warning sign.
Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.
But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk for becoming seriously ill. However, U.S. experts are seeing a significant number of younger people being hospitalized, including some in ICU.
The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.
Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...
- The air by coughing or sneezing
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.
Help stop the spread of coronavirus
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Eat and sleep separately from your family members
- Use different utensils and dishes
- Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
- If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
- Follow social distancing
Lower your risk
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.
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