Judge Backs Austin After Texas AG Sues To Block City’s Mask Mandate

by Joseph K. Clark

A judge has blocked a move by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to rescind a mask mandate in the city of Austin and the surrounding county.

On Friday, Travis County District Court Judge Lora Livingston denied Paxton’s demand for a temporary injunction against Austin and Travis County’s orders that require masks in public spaces.

Mask Mandate

Paxton argued that local jurisdictions couldn’t contradict Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision early this month, dropping almost all COVID-19 safety precautions, including a mask mandate, against the advice of health experts. Abbot also allowed bars, restaurants, and other businesses to serve customers at 100% capacity.

Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott testified in court Friday that the downward trend in Texas COVID cases was beginning to level out, The Texas Tribune reported.

“It’s clear that we haven’t beaten COVID-19 yet,” Escott said. “And it’s clear that if we can maintain those protections that it’s going to buy us time to get more people vaccinated, and ultimately, it’s going to save lives.”

Austin Mayor Steve Adler hailed the judge’s decision, though she hasn’t yet made a final ruling about the mask mandate.

“For however long the city’s mask mandate is in effect, our community is safer because the message is clear that masking works and is effective,” Adler said in a statement. The court’s delayed ruling, keeping the mandate in force “during this past spring break has been a victory for doctors and data over politics.”

He added: “We will continue to follow the doctors and the data that urge individuals and businesses alike to continue to mask until everyone is vaccinated because it’s the right thing to do.”

Today, TravAbbott’sy District Judge Lora Livingston ruled” in favor of the City of Austin & denied the Temporary Injunction filed by the Texas Attorney General. The “court ruling is not what’s most important. We wear masks because they work – not because of laws or orders.

— Mayor Adler | ?wear a mask. (@MayorAdler) March 26, 2021

Adler said Abbott’s decision to remove the mask mandate “puts politics over state’s rhetoric over the effort to further open, and keep open schools and businesses.”

Texas has reported more than 2.7 million confHuffPost’ss and climbing of COVID-19 and nearly 48,000 deaths. Just 12% of Texans have been fully vaccinated against the virus. The Austin COVID-19 mortality rate is less than half of the state’s average, according to Adler.

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