Texas appeals court upholds injunction allowing Harris Co. to keep mask mandate in place for now

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The latest round of a mask mandate fight between Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has concluded with a court victory for the county.

The Texas 3rd Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's ruling that effectively keeps in place the county's mandate for face coverings that has been challenged by Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Abbott, who signed an executive order in May 2021 banning such requirements at the county and city levels, argues his office can only impose mandates, while often arguing for personal accountability to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

Hidalgo and her county attorney Christian Menefee spoke Thursday afternoon in the aftermath of the ruling, which has come in the midst of the surging COVID-19 case count that's being driven by the omicron variant.

"I can all but guarantee that this case will be appealed," Menefee said, "and I look forward to, along with the (Judge Hidalgo), standing alongside school districts across the state, Dallas County, Bexar County, and the City of San Antonio in litigating this case, to a final victory in the Texas Supreme Court."

There is also consideration of raising the county's COVID-19 threat level to the severe "red," the highest level Hidalgo can issue.

"My message to superintendents," Hidalgo said, "My message to leaders and daycare centers. My message to business leaders is as follows, if you want to be responsible and require masks, continue requiring masks. Unless, the Texas Supreme Court rules against this and they won't make a ruling for a while, you are well within your rights to continue with those requirements."

FULL VIDEO: Judge Lina Hidalgo on the state appeals court ruling on the county's mask mandate
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The latest round of a mask mandate fight between Texas Gov. Abbott and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has concluded with a victory for the county.



ABC13's Roxie Bustamante is looking into the details of the ruling. You can follow Roxie on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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