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Texas Supreme Court denies Gov. Greg Abbott’s request to block Travis County’s mask mandate

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) — The Texas Supreme Court has ruled against Gov. Greg Abbott’s request to block Travis County’s mask mandate.

This means as of Thursday evening, the mask mandate in Travis County will remain in effect.

Last week, Galveston defied Abbott’s executive order and issued a mask mandate for students and staff ahead of the first day of school.

The Harris County Attorney’s Office recently announced it was filing a lawsuit challenging the governor’s order. Hours later, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo explained why the county’s public health department was issuing a mask mandate for children ages two and older for all county-area public schools and non-religious private schools.

“I’ve spoken to all the superintendents,” Hidalgo said in a press conference on Thursday. “I’ve spoken with teachers and parents, heard from them, and the overwhelming message was they need an advocate. They need an advocate, a local directive, local clarity on what the situation is. The situation is urgent. The situation is dire, because of how transmissible the variant is and because the schools are starting soon. At the same time, we had these legal developments.”

On Thursday, Hidalgo announced the Texas Supreme Court also denied the governor’s request to block Harris County’s mask mandate, calling it a “victory for our kids’ health.”

“This is an important decision,” said Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee. “It means Harris County’s orders mandating masks for employees and students stand for now. Our lawsuit against the Governor will continue, and we’ll keep giving all we’ve got to ensure local officials and school districts can protect our students and immunocompromised. I’m hopeful today’s decision also means the Texas Supreme Court is taking a hard look at whether Governor Abbott is misusing the Disaster Act and needs to be reined in.”

According to Abbott’s order, those who defy the order will face a $1,000 charge.

This is a developing story. This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

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