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Staff Reports

It’s now required to wear face coverings in public – but not in Bailey County.
Governor Greg Abbott’s office issued a news release Thursday afternoon regarding this latest executive order, which makes it mandatory for Texans to wear a face cover over their nose and mouth in public spaces.
The order applies to counties with 20 or more positive cases of COVID-19, according to the news release. The order, which was issued last Thursday, allows counties to apply for exemptions if they meet the qualifications. By Friday, the number of exempt counties — which are displayed on the TDEM website — had grown.
Bailey County Judge Sherri Harrison applied for an exemption last week and was approved and listed on the TDEM website Tuesday afternoon.
The county hit 21 active cases on Thursday last week. By Monday afternoon, that active case count was down to 12.
First-time violators could get a verbal or written warning for not wearing masks in public, according to the text in the executive order. A second violation could result in a fine of up to $250.
The latest executive order also gives more power to mayors and county judges to impose restrictions on outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people. The order mandates that there cannot be groups larger than 10 people and individuals must maintain six feet of social distance between each other.
“Wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Abbott in the news release. “We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another – and that means wearing a face covering in public spaces.”
Dr. Sergio Lara, Hale County Health Authority, has said that face masks help decrease chances of the wearer spreading coronavirus. The virus can be spread from as little as a droplet of saliva inadvertently passed on by a seemingly harmless act like having a conversation.
He also encourages citizens to continue to practice social distancing in public and practice good hand hygiene. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not present. Taking those precautions, Lara noted, will help slow the spread.
Abbott’s statement echoed what Lara said.
“I urge all Texans to wear a face covering in public, not just for their own health, but for the health of their families, friends and for all our fellow Texans,” Abbott’s statement reads.
There are few exceptions. According to the executive order, the face cover requirements do not apply to:
Anyone under 10 years old
Anyone with a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a face mask
Anyone who is consuming food or a drink or who is seated in a restaurant to eat or drink
Anyone who is exercising or engaging in physical activity outdoors or who is maintaining six feet between people from the same household
Anyone who is driving alone with passengers who are from the same household
Anyone who is obtaining service that requires temporarily removal of the mask – security surveillance, screening, visiting a bank, personal care services, etc.
Anyone who is in a pool or other body of water
Anyone who is voting, assisting a voter or serving as a poll watcher (though not required, they’re recommended)
Anyone who is engaging in religious worship (though not required, they’re recommended)
Anyone who is giving a speech or broadcasting to an audience
Anyone who is an essential worker whose county judge has opted out of the requirement (though not required, they’re recommended)
Counties interested in applying for the exemption must meet qualifications and fill out a form available at
That website will also provide a list of exempt counties that the public can access.



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