Texas Governor Warns of Another Lockdown If Face Masks Aren’t Worn

July 11, 2020 Updated: July 11, 2020

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott warned he may impose another lockdown if people don’t wear face masks.

“The only way that we can keep our businesses open, the only way that we can have people continue to have a job they need to pay their bill is for everybody to adopt this practice of wearing a face mask,” Abbott, a Republican, said during an appearance on KLBK-TV on Friday.

The governor issued a mandate on July 2 requiring all Texans wear face coverings over the nose and mouth in public spaces. People who refuse to comply could be fined.

Abbott said imposing the order was a tough decision to make and acknowledged that wearing a face covering is inconvenient.

“I made clear that I made this tough decision for one reason. It was our last, best effort to slow the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

Epoch Times Photo
A family wearing facemasks stands in front of a pizzeria in Austin, Texas on June 26, 2020. (Sergio Flores/AFP via Getty Images)

“If we do not slow the spread of COVID-19, with that rise of hospitalizations that you’re seeing in Lubbock, with the increased death rate we’re seeing in the state of Texas, the next step would have to be a lockdown,” he added.

Texas is experiencing an increase in cases of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease, and in hospitalizations linked to the disease.

The daily new cases increased from 1,254 on June 15 to 9,765 on July 10, according to state data. Hospitalizations rose from 2,326 to 10,002 over the same period of time.

While the number of available hospital beds and ventilators remain high—10,698 and 5,127, respectively—only 940 intensive care unit beds remain unused.

Another worrying trend: the positivity rate, or percent testing positive, jumped from 8 percent or lower in the first to weeks in June to at least 13.2 percent in July.

The governor didn’t hold a press conference on July 10, opting to appear on three local broadcasters.

Epoch Times Photo
An empty playground is surrounded by caution tape amid the global outbreak of the CCP virus in Seabrook, Texas on July 8, 2020. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)

He took time to criticize sheriffs and other officials who are declining to enforce his orders.

“It’s disappointing,” Abbott told a CBS affiliate, adding later: “I realize that a murderer or rapist or robber is far more serious to concentrate on. However, I know this also: If we do not all join together and unite in this one cause for a short period of time of adopting the masks, what it will lead to, it will lead to the necessity of having to close Texas back down.”

In Montgomery County, for instance, the sheriff’s office said it would take no actions to enforce the mandatory face mask order.

“This order includes specific language prohibiting law enforcement from detaining, arresting, or confining to jail as a means to enforce the order. This language strips law enforcement of the necessary tools to enforce compliance with the law,” the office said in a statement.

On the other hand, some county judges and mayors are pressing Abbott to impose lockdowns. The governor said they are also not enforcing his orders.

“All of those local officials who are asking to shut Texas back down, they’ve absolutely refused to enforce the current executive orders that are already in place,” he said on KFDM.

“What they need to show is action, not absenteeism. They need to show up, enforce the law as it is, before they’re given any further authority. They ask for more and more, but they do absolutely nothing.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber