In a rapidly escalating fight with Gov. Greg Abbott, local officials across the state are trying to force citizens to obey old rules that didn’t work the first time and challenging the governor to stop their decrees.

This week, despite Abbott’s recent executive order, a growing wave of officials in cities from San Antonio to Dallas to Houston have commanded new mask mandates on citizens. Dallas and Austin Independent School District superintendents are forcing all students, employees, and visitors on school campuses to wear masks; Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is requiring masks on all city employees on city property; Austin Mayor Steve Adler even said if he could, he would force citizens to get injected with COVID vaccinations.

The officials’ mask mandates buck Abbott’s July executive order, which specifically prohibits them from mandating vaccines or masks on citizens.

“No governmental entity can compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization. … No governmental entity, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority, and no governmental official may require any person to wear a face covering or mandate that another person wear a face covering,” reads Abbott’s order.

Abbott’s order also states that if local officials still tried to extort citizens into vaccines or masks, they would be “subject to a fine up to $1,000.”

The feud intensified Tuesday when San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff sued Abbott, asking for courts to give them the power to force masks on citizens at schools.

One judge did.

On Tuesday afternoon, Texas District Judge Antonia Arteaga granted officials in San Antonio and Bexar County a temporary restraining order against Abbott’s order, allowing them to mandate masks at schools for now.

However, some parents have questioned the mask mandates by pointing to the Texas Education Code, which prohibits impairing a student’s breathing or requiring they wear a face covering as a punishment.

Additionally, health experts have warned against the forced masking of children, and a Center for Disease Control study last year found that masks were not effective in stopping the spread of the flu (a virus similar in size to the coronavirus).

“There’s no scientific rationale or logic to have children wear masks in schools,” said Stanford University’s Dr. Scott Atlas, who described the mask mandate evidence from numerous counties, states, and countries.

“There’s no evidence that a mask mandate was effective in stopping the cases from spreading. … And, in fact, there is evidence, as [a fellow doctor] cited, that the people in the United States at a very high frequency have been wearing masks for months and the cases exploded,” said Dr. Atlas at a roundtable discussion last year. “Whether it’s in certain states like Hawaii, Minnesota … you could look at all the data. So this has sort of become folklore—one of the many obsessions—and it’s been harmful.”

“Children should not wear face masks, no. They don’t need it for their own protection, and they don’t need it for protecting other people, either,” said Dr. Martin Kulldorff, a biostatistician, epidemiologist, and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Citizens also responded to the revived mandates.

“People are literally begging for the government to tell them how to live. That’s sad,” one individual commented on social media.

“They should worry about the border where Covid is walking across,” another wrote.

Meanwhile, Texas Scorecard reached out to Abbott’s office for a response to the local officials’ actions and the judge’s decision, and Press Secretary Renae Eze replied with the following statement:

Governor Abbott’s resolve to protect the rights and freedoms of all Texans has not wavered. There have been dozens of legal challenges to the Governor’s executive orders—all of which have been upheld in the end. We expect a similar outcome when the San Antonio trial court’s decision is reviewed by the appellate courts.

Concerned citizens may contact their elected officials.

Jacob Asmussen

Jacob Asmussen is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard. He attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and in 2017 earned a double major in public relations and piano performance.


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