MIDLAND, Texas – The city council in Midland on Monday declined to approve ordinances related to enforcing Texas’ mask mandate.
It was the second time in as many weeks that the city council rejected approving mask-related ordinances.
One of the ordinances debated Monday would have required businesses to place signs telling customers that they have to wear masks.
The Midland Reporter Telegram reported the ordinance would not have fined businesses if customers still refused to wear masks and it would have been enforced through code enforcement rather than by the police.
The proposal failed in a 3-4 vote, with three council members and Mayor Patrick Payton voting against it.
A resolution that would have called on police to enforce Gov. Greg Abbott’s statewide mask order was also rejected.
Last week, the city council voted against an ordinance that would have required businesses to enforce mask wearing or face a $500 fine.
Monday’s decision came amid a spike in the number of coronavirus cases in Texas. On Saturday, the state reported its one-day high of 12,597 new virus cases.
In the Midland-Odessa area in West Texas, local officials have warned coronavirus cases and hospitalizations were at “crisis levels.”
At a news conference earlier this month, Payton and Odessa Mayor David Turner asked residents to wear masks but said they would not enforce Abbott’s statewide mask order because they don’t think local law enforcement could or should be enforcing it.
Statewide, the Texas health department on Monday reported 6,576 new coronavirus cases. The state on Monday also reported 8,353 virus hospitalizations and 32 new deaths.
In El Paso, officials have been asking Abbott for support for a curfew in the county as mortuaries are being overwhelmed due to COVID-19 deaths. Last week, the Texas National Guard sent a 36-member team to El Paso to assist morgues
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz faced backlash after posting a meme on Twitter Saturday that some see as being insensitive to the coronavirus crisis in Texas, particularly the ongoing situation in El Paso. The meme shows a turkey with a star above it and the words “Come and Take It.” The meme was a reimagining of the famous flag from the Texas Revolution that’s become a symbol of defiance. Many saw the meme as a comment on health restrictions asking U.S. residents to not celebrate Thanksgiving this week with anybody outside their immediate household.
El Paso has recorded a steep incline in COVID-19 cases and deaths over the last few weeks. On Monday, El Paso recorded 328 new coronavirus cases and seven new deaths, bringing the active case count to more than 36,000 and the death toll to 862.
El Paso artist Patrick Gabaldon responded to Cruz’s tweet on Sunday with an image of a doctor pushing a hospital gurney, the lone star, mountains that commonly represent El Paso and the words “Come and See It.” He told KTSM-TV in El Paso that he hoped the senator would see his tweet, adding, “Maybe if people -see the devastation, maybe they’ll acknowledge it.”
A spokeswoman for Cruz did not immediately return an email seeking comment Monday.