Harris County Judge

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo

UPDATE: Gov. Greg Abbott put an end to the fines that were imposed by the Harris County Judge for not wearing a mask. Click here for the story.

HOUSTON (Covering Katy News) - If you don't always wear a face mask and you live in the Katy area it is time to get very familiar with where the boundaries are that separate Harris County from Fort Bend and Waller Counties or you could face a $1,000 fine. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo's mask order is now in effect and you could be fined if you're caught violating her order. Fort Bend and Waller Counties don't have similar orders in place that require wearing a mask. 

The Katy area is spread over Harris, Fort Bend and Waller Counties. The boundaries that separate the counties run through neighborhoods where one house is in Harris County and a neighboring home is in Fort Bend or Waller. It's also possible to visit a grocery store that's not in Harris County, and finish your shopping a short distance down the road at another store that is in Harris County. Many people don't know when they've entered Harris County, and the possibility of getting fined will rest on knowing exactly where you are while traveling around the Katy area, should you not be wearing a mask.

Residents 10 and older must cover their noses and mouths. Masks are often difficult to purchase so Hidalgo's order allows people to use a bandana or other type of homemade mask. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends covering the mouth and nose when in areas like grocery stores where customers can't easily stay 6 feet apart.

“We have to use every tool in the toolbox,” Hidalgo said at a press conference. 

The mask rules will last 30 days unless the order is extended by Hidalgo, which is not unlikely given that other COVID 19 precautions have been routinely extended.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, called Hidalgo’s order “the ultimate government overreach.”

“These kind of confused government policies fuel public anger — and rightfully so,” Patrick posted on social media.

Lack of clarity on the penalties for violating Hidalgo's order has been a source of confusion.

A draft of Hidalgo's order had mentioned a punishment of up to 180 days in jail. That draft was also posted on line, but a spokeswoman for the judge said that not wearing a face covering could only lead to a $1,000 fine, not jail time, the Texas Tribune reported.

The Houston Police Officers’ Union called the order “draconian.” 

“Everyone should be wearing a mask in public, I wear 1 everyday,” union president Joe Gamaldi said in a tweet. “But making not wearing one punishable by law, and asking our officers to enforce it, will do irreparable damage to our relationship with the community. We are already stretched too thin without having to enforce this.”

Asked about the pushback, Hidalgo said, “There's always going to be a minority voice. … People are entitled to their opinions. “This is not a police state,” she said. “But we needed to make clear it’s not a recommendation, it’s something we have to do for sake of our safety, our lives and our economy.”

Attorney General Paxton, a Republican, has instructed police officers to "use discretion" as they carry out Hidalgo's order.

Hidalgo's order will make exceptions for people with health conditions that would be exacerbated by wearing a covering and will make allowances for people driving, eating and exercising alone, Hidalgo said.

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(5) comments

Pancho Villa

South Korea acted early and got 284 people dead. We have over 1 million people infected and over 54,000 people dead and because the idiot that says we should inject people with Clorox was saying it was Hoax! People should be using their masks as the CDC told us. YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO KILL MY FAMILY! Lina Hidalgo is trying to protect me from stupid and dangerous people expose everyone else.

TOML

Your comment w/ regard to 'Clorox' is a gross misrepresentation ...

HPD will 'stand down' on such an ignorant 'order' ...

The Governor of Texas made sure to back them up last week, key word 'discretion' ...

In today's press briefing he reiterated that such in judicial positions of authorities will not be allowed to legislate from the bench ... Lina was a neighbor who played tennis w/ my youngest daughter ... A good student perhaps but her political ideology tends to support the fact that 'common sense' is not necessarily synonymous w/ 'common practice' ... Lina is a lot like her compadre, 'A.O.C.'

Gerardtn

Wish you would teach your reportets to write in third person as us the standard practice in journalism.

Hard to take anyone who calls himself Pancho Villa seriously. No one said we should inject people with Clorox. Calling our president an idiot is not acceptable. Your attitude toward him is what will get people killed.

Pancho Villa

tRump and Abbot are demonic entities killing Americans now surpassing the dead in the Vietnam war. They seek the best interest for them ONLY. For 3 months the crazy criminal president said it was a hoax and it was going to magically disappear. We are being governed by imbecilic demons.

Pancho Villa

And YES, you are either a Russian troll or blinded by Satan, tRump did suggest people to get blasted by UV light and get disinfectant injections into the lungs. Anyone believing tRump at this time is an Anti American traitor. Copy and paste this link to see the video of el loco presidente saying this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I32y_0Qgb8o

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