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Public officials and residents of Houston were outraged over a mandatory face mask order that was issued along with fines for violators.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo drew the ire of Texans and earned a scathing response from the police union to her “draconian” order for residents to wear face coverings to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
(Source: Associated Press)
The Democrat executive of the nation’s third-largest county issued a 30-day order on Wednesday requiring the wearing of face masks for anyone ages 10 years and older. The order, which goes into effect on Monday, April 27, mandates that people have a covering over their nose and mouth while out in public and will face up to a $1,000 fine if they don’t comply.
“I know this takes some getting used to, but these are all small but powerful actions,” Hidalgo said during a Wednesday press conference, according to the Houston Chronicle “We have saved over 4,500 lives according to Rice University…This will continue to make a difference.”
NEW: I’ve signed the order that requires face covers in public for the next 30 days, a critical period in our fight against an insidious & invisible killer. This is no time to let our guard down. pic.twitter.com/DJbjiW6Umt
— Lina Hidalgo (@LinaHidalgoTX) April 22, 2020
The use of homemade masks, scarves, bandanas or handkerchiefs was encouraged to reduce the use of medical masks or N95 masks because they are needed by healthcare workers on the frontlines.
Hidalgo’s order came on the third consecutive day that no new deaths were being reported in the city and as the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the state stands at 569 as of this writing, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
While Hidalgo’s order was met with some praise for efforts to flatten the curve of cases, many others unloaded on the measure and the exorbitant fine as a step toward “government tyranny,” as U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw noted.
“I agree that guidelines for masks in confined spaces should be strongly promoted,” The Texas Republican tweeted. “But 180 days in jail or $1,000 fine for not wearing a mask? That is draconian.”
I agree that guidelines for masks in confined spaces should be strongly promoted.
But 180 days in jail or $1,000 fine for not wearing a mask? That is draconian.
Don’t let commonsense guidelines lead us to government tyranny. https://t.co/aD1V1BUlja
— Rep. Dan Crenshaw (@RepDanCrenshaw) April 22, 2020
The Houston Police Officers’ Union also called the order “draconian” in a blistering letter Wednesday addressed to the community and police officers.
THIS is how you do it. Good on you, Houston Police Union. pic.twitter.com/lcHDs1rmGz
— Sara Gonzales (@SaraGonzalesTX) April 22, 2020
“Our officers work every single day to bridge the gap with our community and earn their trust, we will not stand idly by and allow Hidalgo to tear that bridge down, with her horrific leadership and echo chamber decision making,” Joe Gamaldi, Houston Police Officers’ Union Lodge 110 President wrote in the letter.
He added that the Union was checking with the Texas Attorney General’s Office on the legality of the Harris County Judge’s order.
“It is clear the so-called leader of Harris County lacks any critical thinking skills,” Gamaldi wrote in the letter. “But let me assure the public, our officers do!”
He slammed the “idiotic order” as possibly unconstitutional and pointed out that Houston Police Officers “are already stretched too thin” because of the coronavirus pandemic and don’t have time to “be pawns in Hidalgo’s game.”
Asked about the letter during the press briefing, Hidalgo said: “everyone is entitled to their opinions.”
“This is not a police state…this is not about trying to find folks who are not wearing a mask,” she said. “It’s something we have to do for the sake of our safety, our lives and our economy.”
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called the order “the ultimate government overreach.
“These kind of confused government policies fuel public anger — and rightfully so,” he tweeted in reaction.
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