SAN ANTONIO – After urging Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for weeks to mandate masks amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg kept his response short when asked about governor’s decision to impose that requirement Thursday.
“It’s about time,” Nirenberg said during a press conference.
On Thursday, Abbott reversed his stance and issued an order requiring Texans to wear a face covering in public in counties with 20 or more COVID-19 cases.
“Wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said in a news release.
Before Thursday’s mask mandate, Abbott encouraged the use of face coverings but stopped short of issuing an order that required them. Abbott had also prevented local governments from enforcing penalties on residents who did not wear them, a move that was derided by government leaders in metropolitan areas around the state.
Abbott has also given mayors and county judges the authority to impose bans on outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people, with exceptions.
Local leaders across the state, including in San Antonio and Bexar County, have implored Abbott for weeks to give them more authority to battle the spread of the virus.
Texas has reported more than 175,000 total COVID-19 cases and more than 2,500 fatalities due to the virus, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
San Antonio’s COVID-19 tally stands at 12,504 total cases as of Thursday afternoon.
Nirenberg and Wolff reported 374 new cases, four deaths, and 1,074 hospitalizations on Thursday — just minutes after Abbott announced the mask order.