HPD to issue $250 fines for mask order violations as mayor gets aggressive with virus

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Mayor Sylvester Turner revealed Monday that he has instructed Houston police to issue citations to those who don't wear masks in public.

Turner said the fine would be issued to those who have been warned once and continually ignore police. A $250 fine would be issued.

The instructions to HPD are the latest aggressive moves by Turner to rein in COVID-19. The mayor announced at least another 1,000 new cases Monday, which he deemed too high.

Before the turn of the new month, Turner laid down the challenge to Houstonians to reduce the city's positive rate from 23% down to 5% or below in August.

As of Monday, the positivity rate in the city was at 17.6%, which is good news of sorts, for Houston.

Still, Turner observed there were too many "house parties, street parties, backyard parties, and no masks."

The mayor may have gotten a cue from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who criticized local governments for not enforcing their mask orders.

"Local governments have so much autonomy and independence as it concerns responding to COVID-19, as well as countless abilities to enforce all of the executive orders already in place," Abbott pointed out last week. "Yet, I have yet to see a location anywhere in the entire state of Texas that has actually stepped up and enforced the statewide mask order."

During his first coronavirus briefing of August, Turner was flanked by Houston Public Health Director Dr. David Persse, as well as Fire Chief Sam Pena and Police Chief Art Acevedo.

The outbreak has been taxing as of late for Pena's fire department, which has been grieving the deaths of Capt. Leroy Lucero and firefighter Jerry Pacheco, who was a 17-year veteran of HFD.

SEE BELOW: Houston and Harris County's coronavirus dashboard

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