New mask mandate in effect as Houston hospitalization rates rise

Monday is the first day of Harris County’s new mask mandate which levies at least a thousand dollar fine against businesses that don’t make their customers wear masks.

MORE: Harris Co. mandatory mask order goes into effect Monday

Many people were seen complying with Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s new mandate at retail stores, restaurants, and even gyms. Several others objected to the order which affects all commercial entities regardless of what good or services they provide.

Hidalgo’s new mandate states that businesses will get hit with a thousand dollar fine per violation if they don’t make sure all staff, customers and clients are wearing masks.

At The Galleria Mall, stores donned signs warning customers to put a mask on before entering.

At Snooze Eatery, people had to have a mask on to get in but could take it off at their tables.

It was a similar story at Life Time - Greenway. Masks were required upon entry, but people took them off once they were on their machines.

Houston Methodist CEO Dr. Marc Boom says the mask mandate is the right move if we’re going to stop the new surge of COVID-19 related hospitalizations.

“At Houston Methodist on Memorial Day we had 104 people,” said Boom. “This morning we have 329 people who are hospitalized, so well more than tripling in a four week period, and most of that growth has occurred in the past two weeks.”

He says a combination of events in recent weeks likely led to the new surge in cases.


“If we put 60,000 people together for a protest march, it would be naïve to think that doesn’t have an impact, and I think a few days after that—really about a week after that--we saw some further uptick,” said Boom. “It’s one of many many factors.”

Boom says 15-to-20 percent of people who catch coronavirus COVID-19 typically need to be hospitalized.

Right now, about 15 percent of the Houston Methodist hospital beds are occupied by patients with coronavirus, and he says masks will help keep that number from growing—thus allowing hospitals to treat everyone who is sick.

THE LATEST: Coronavirus COVID-19 cases, deaths, recoveries in greater Houston area