Fort Bend County Judge KP George's office confirmed to ABC13 Thursday morning that a mask mandate will go into effect at 11:59 p.m.
According to George, the mandate will apply to county facilities and employees. Health officials are expected to make guidelines as part of the mask order.
The local Health Authority (Health and Human Services) also issued a recommendation for schools. The director, Dr. Minter, has forwarded her recommendation to Fort Bend County superintendents as of Thusday afternoon.
In order to mitigate the risks associated with the significant and sustained transmission of COVID-19 in Fort Bend County, Dr. Minter recommends that it is necessary that all students over the age of 2 years old, educators and school staff, and all visitors to school campuses and district facilities, wear face coverings while indoors or while in proximity closer than three feet where possible. It is also immediately necessary that campuses make every reasonable effort to establish physical distancing of three to six feet between all students, staff, parents and visitors. These recommendations will be effective at 11:59 p.m. Thursday as well.
The actions some Texas counties have taken regarding masking has been swift.
George announced Wednesday that he would file a lawsuit challenging Gov. Greg Abbott's executive orders on COVID-19 protocols, which includes his ban on mask mandates.
"I'll do all I can to protect the public health and the people of Fort Bend County," the judge wrote on Twitter. "I hope others will join me in following the science and listening to local doctors and the CDC to act swiftly and decisively."
#BREAKING: Fort Bend County has authorized a lawsuit against Governor Abbott's unlawful executive order that prohibits local communities from implementing important public health measures.We stand with our parents, teachers, and community members against COVID-19.— County Judge KP George (@JudgeKPGeorge) August 11, 2021
I'll do all I can to protect the public health, and the people of Fort Bend County. I hope others will join me in following the science and listening to local doctors and the CDC to act swiftly and decisively.— County Judge KP George (@JudgeKPGeorge) August 11, 2021
George also announced that he raised the county's COVID threat level from orange "significant" to red "severe."
In a series of tweets posted earlier Wednesday, the county judge was vocal about his support for the use of masks, particularly in schools.
He posted a letter he wrote to the commissioner of the Texas Education Agency, asking them to consider the concerns of parents and teachers.
"The highly contagious delta variant has raged across Texas, and Fort Bend is no exception, as we have seen an increase in new confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the past few weeks," the letter stated. "The purpose of this letter is to request that you stand up and lead on behalf of our children by providing local school districts flexibility ..."
I can personally identify with the pleas of parents, teachers, and school administrators requesting that measures be taken to protect our children in their learning environment by requiring face coverings for students and school personnel...This is bigger than us #MaskUp #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/b9NeakcJ7r— County Judge KP George (@JudgeKPGeorge) August 11, 2021
Late Tuesday night, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced the county will file a lawsuit challenging Abbott's ban on mask mandates.
"First responders and school leaders are speaking out and standing up as Delta ravages our community. We have their back," Hidalgo wrote. "Protecting the community during an emergency is a duty, not an option for government leaders."
Despite COVID cases rising again, Abbott has said he will not impose another statewide mandate.
It would be "inappropriate to require people who already have immunity to wear a mask," Abbott said.
Abbott lifted the statewide mask requirement in March. Two months later, he announced he was banning government entities - including public schools - from mandating masks. Abbott reiterated that Texas schoolchildren will not face mask requirements as they return to school later this summer.
Both Austin ISD and Dallas ISD are going against Abbott's ban on mask mandates. Houston ISD is scheduled to take up the issue on Thursday.
ABC13 has been checking with area school districts on their mask policies. Visit this link for the latest list.
For updates on the mask mandate, follow Charly Edsitty on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.