Leading SA: Judge Wolff urges residents, businesses to abide by facial covering executive order

Surge in coronavirus cases caused new mask order

SAN ANTONIO – As San Antonio and Bexar County enter another week of its second COVID-19 wave, a new executive order will go into effect on Monday that may cause some controversy among residents.

Beginning Monday, face masks will be required at all area businesses under a new executive order in Bexar County.

RELATED: New Bexar County executive order mandates face coverings at all businesses when social distancing is not possible

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff joined Leading SA on Sunday to discuss the order and the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the community.

“It takes effect tomorrow, and it clearly says, ‘any employee or customer in this facility should have a face covering.' Now, we don’t want to have to fine anybody. We’re gonna be out there warning people, employers, if they do not pick that up and do not implement their policy,” Wolff said. “We’re going to need cooperation of citizens of San Antonio and employers to help us in this measure.”

Wolff said with the new order in effect, it’s possible that arguments between patrons and business owners may ensue over the masks.

“We don’t want an employer to take a chance and get into a confrontation with a customer if they become unruly or refuse to do it. If they choose, they can call the sheriff’s department or the police department if they have an unruly customer... We’re gonna need support of the employers and we’re gonna need support as citizens to make sure this works,” Wolff said.

The judge said the reason for the new order is clear — the huge rise in COVID-19 cases. On Saturday, the county reached 6,344 COVID-19 cases, which was an increase of 382 cases from Friday. The death toll still resides at 96.

382 more COVID-19 cases reported in Bexar County

“We have 336 patients in the hospital. When we were really being careful in San Antonio, we only had 93. That’s three times more. We’ve got 111 in ICU... and we’ve gone from 20 to 49 people that now are on ventilators,” Wolff said. “We’ve seen this virus spread and it’s a deadly virus to many people that have health problems. So, we had to take some action to try to turn this around.”

Wolff’s order will be in effect until June 30, and businesses who fail to follow the order can be fined by $1,000, according to a previous KSAT report.

There is speculation the rise in cases could have stemmed from the recent protests or even Memorial Day weekend. The dates line up, but Judge Wolff believes it is the lax precautions.

“I was down there at least four different times watching the protests and the vast majority had face masks on. They were outside... When they’re in a building, that becomes dangerous. Clothes and grime and air circulating through the air conditioning systems, that’s the danger point,” Wolff said.

As for testing, the judge said there is availability, but those who show symptoms should take priority.

“We were originally testing a thousand or two a day. We built it. Now we have the capacity to test 5,200 people every day. That’s out of the Coliseum. That’s Texas Med Clinic, other clinics that are participating with us. So our capacity to test has gone way up,” Wolff said.

RELATED: Freeman Coliseum booked for COVID-19 testing through Tuesday, San Antonio officials say

About the Author:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.