Texas school districts, key county get temporary wins on masks

Multiple appeals courts in Texas on Friday upheld the mask mandates of several counties as they attempt to override Gov. Greg Abbott's (R) mask mandate ban.

Abbott suffered a pair of major defeats as the 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio dismissed the governor's appeal to toss out an order by Bexar County, which covers San Antonio, to require masks in public schools, the Texas Tribune reported. Soon after, the 5th Court of Appeals in Dallas made the same ruling, allowing the city to mandate masks in public schools, universities and businesses, according to the Tribune. 

A judge in Travis County also granted temporary restraining orders to a group of South Texas school districts in Harris County, including Brownsville, La Joya and Edinburg, according to The Associated Press. Harris County, which covers Houston, filed a lawsuit against Abbott on Thursday challenging his ban on mask mandates.

Harris County's school mask mandate, which was issued Thursday, applies to all public and nonreligious private schools and students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. County executive Lina Hidalgo said that with pediatric cases of COVID-19 rising in Texas, the county had “no choice" but to instate the mandate. 

The rulings Friday mean that Texas's four most populous counties — Harris, Dallas, Bexar and Travis — are all permitted to enforce mask mandates, the Tribune notes.

The news comes as Texas is experiencing a spike in coronavirus cases, recording 14,214 new cases on Wednesday alone. According to The New York Times, at least 53 Texas hospitals were at maximum capacity in their intensive care units. 

Abbott is likely to take at least a couple of the rulings to the Texas Supreme Court, the Tribune reported.

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