HARRIS COUNTY - On Thursday, the mandatory facial covering order officially ended in Harris County.
“We still need folks to wear them,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “We didn’t see a need to extend the initial order.”
Judge Hidalgo first issued the order in April, in an effort to try preventing the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19. Initially, the judge discussed potential fines for people not wearing masks in public.
Within days, Texas Governor Greg Abbott overruled the mandatory mask order for Harris County, saying people would not face penalties for choosing to not wear face coverings.
“We needed people to take it seriously,” said Judge Hidalgo. “If you don’t put an enforcement mechanism in there, it’s easy for folks to see it just as a recommendation. We never had to fine, I don’t think for any of the orders.”
Over the weekend, people crowded into Houston area bars and clubs. Videos on social media showed large crowds. Very few people were seen wearing masks.
“We can’t just give up on this,” said Judge Hidalgo. “We are not done. We are not done in the fight against this virus.”
While some people choose to not wear masks, there’s also a new trend emerging called “mask shaming”. Cellphone video from a New York supermarket shows people forcing a shopper without a face covering, to leave the store.
In addition to “mask shaming”, there’s also a growing movement that associates masks with political parties. Some people choosing to wear/not wear facial protection, because of their political affiliation.
“They might have vulnerable adults in their life,” said North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum in a recent press conference. “There should be no mask shaming. You should look at them, and say, that person is wearing a mass because for them, there’s an additional risk in their life.”
Outside a Houston shopping center Thursday, we asked people why they chose to wear a mask or not.
“It’s my personal choice,” said one shopper. “I think [you] should always protect yourself and your family.”
“People with masks catch [COVID-19] said a second shopper. “If I catch it, I catch it. I’m not worried about it.”
While the mandatory mask order officially ended Thursday, Judge Hidalgo still would like people to wear masks to prevent spreading COVID-19.
“We have to double down, each of us,” said Hidalgo. “[It’s your] personal responsibly, to limit the spread of the virus.”