As COVID cases, spurred by the Delta variant, are on the rise in the U.S., the debate regarding face masks has also reignited around the country.
Florida and Texas are among the states facing controversy as executive orders and legislation have prevented local governments and school districts from enacting new mask mandates.
However, some cities have moved ahead with mandates in defiance of the orders.
In Texas, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Monday that all of the city’s 22,000 city workers would be required to wear masks inside city buildings when it is not possible to social distance.
This contradicts an executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott in July that states “no government entity, including a county, city, school district and public health authority” and “any public or private entity that is receiving or will receive public funds” can enact mandates that require people to wear masks or get vaccinated.
Similarly, several county school districts in Florida defied an executive order banning mask mandates from Governor Ron DeSantis.
Check back with Newsweek for more updates.
Dallas Independent School District Imposes Mask Mandate, Defies Executive Order
The Dallas Independent School District, the second largest in Texas, will begin requiring students and faculty to wear masks while in school buildings beginning Tuesday.
The measure contradicts an executive order from Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits public schools and the Texas Education Agency from imposing mask mandates and threatens a fine of up to $1,000 for areas that don’t comply.
DISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa revealed the mandate during a press conference Monday morning, citing the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant that has caused a surge in infections in the state.
“We’re in a situation that has gotten significantly more urgent,” Hinojosa said.
A statement issued on the DISD website stated that Abbott’s order “does not limit the district’s rights as an employer and educational institution to establish reasonable and necessary safety rules for its staff and students.”
North Carolina’s City of Columbia Passes Mask Mandate for Students and School Faculty
In North Carolina, the City of Columbia recently passed a mask requirement for students and school faculty.
The resolution includes 43 elementary schools, middle school and day cares in the city, the State reported. Gov. Henry McMaster warned that the mandate contradicted North Carolina law and would not be protected in court during a news conference Monday.
“That mandate is, I believe, contrary to state law,” McMaster said. “The state law is crystal clear that state funds are not to be used to enforce a mask mandate. The very people who were listed (in the city’s ordinance) as those responsible to enforce the mandate are, of course, paid in whole or in part with state funds.”
Other Republican leaders from the state, including Senate President Harvey Peeler and House Speaker Jay Lucas have also condemned the measure.