AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — This week some signs in Texas urged voters to wear masks. Polling precincts were already staffed thin because a number of election workers backed out of the state’s primary runoffs.
By and large, most voters covered their faces, even though Texas’ mask mandate exempts polling locations. Others adamantly made clear they wouldn’t.
“It’s kind of along the same lines you see in other parts of Texas — there is a faction they’re not going to wear a mask unless absolutely required,” said Melynn Huntley, Potter County’s elections administrator. “And even then, they’re going to try not to.”
Two weeks after Republican Governor Greg Abbott ordered most of the state’s 30 million residents to wear masks, Texas is still scrambling to contain one of the biggest coronavirus surges in the U.S., and Abbott is stressing that the widespread use of face coverings could avoid another lockdown —- one he hasn’t ruled out.
On Wednesday, Texas again set a new high with nearly 10,800 new cases, along with a record 110 deaths.
The rising toll includes 35 deaths that officials on the Texas-Mexico border said happened Wednesday morning alone in Hidalgo County. That was more than twice the number of new deaths reported in Harris County — which has five times the population — and where Texas’ largest school district decided that Houston public schools would not only postpone the first day of class but conduct the first six weeks of learning online.
“For those people who think this virus is a joke, that it’s made up, not real, that it’s not having an impact, I want you to take a look at that chart,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said, waving to a graphic listing biographical details about the new deaths.
Although it remains too early to tell the impact since Texas’ mask order was announced before the Fourth of July weekend, other former holdouts to requiring face coverings continued relenting Wednesday. Republican Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama announced a statewide mask order just a few weeks after saying enforcing one would be “next to impossible.”