SAN ANTONIO – Citing increasing numbers of new COVID-19 cases in San Antonio and across Texas, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff asked Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday to issue a new executive order that would allow local jurisdictions to determine if mandatory face coverings are needed.
Currently, face coverings are optional for residents after Abbott said cities and counties couldn’t fine residents for not wearing a face covering where social distancing is challenging but suggested that people wear one, which Wolff said was a mistake.
“As a result, we see fewer and fewer people wearing face coverings and rates of infection are increasing,” Wolff said in the letter.
Wolff said the result of fewer people wearing masks has resulted in a surge in positive COVID-19 cases in the past week. He said on Friday, Bexar County recorded 172 new cases, preceded by 507 new cases Tuesday through Thursday.
“We’re seeing a spike. This is not gradual,” said Dawn Emerick, San Antonio Metro Health Director, on Thursday, saying the county is entering a second wave of increasing rates of COVID-19 infection.
Another alarming statistic for Wolff are the 138 patients hospitalized in San Antonio for COVID-19, the highest daily number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations ever in the county.
“If we are going to be successful in the reopening of our economy, we need to put in place some mandatory health requirements,” Wolff said. “The most important of these is the requirement to wear a face covering within six feet of another person. If this trend continues, and I believe it will, we will see an increase in both the burden upon our community and the need for additional resources to combat the COVID-19 crisis.”
You can read Wolff’s letter below: