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Mandatory Mask Order Soon in Nueces County

Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales released a video statement announcing she will soon issue a mandatory mask order for the county. The judge is self-isolating in her home after being exposed to a Nueces County employee who tested positive for COVID-19. Screen-captured image

An order requiring masks be worn in public is expected this week from Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales, who spent the weekend in quarantine studying options. She is self-quarantined until Thursday, June 25, after being exposed to a Nueces County employee who tested positive for COVID-19.

“Our number of positive test results has grown dramatically and our hospitalization of patients has grown dramatically and our number of patients in intensive care units has also grown,” she said in a video message from her home June 19. “And, in one week, the number of deaths due to coronavirus has doubled. This coronavirus continues to spread in Nueces County, and we need to mitigate that spread.”

As of 4 p.m. Sunday, June 21, the county had a total of 633 positive cases. Of those, 17 are currently in the hospital with four in ICU. The number of deaths increased from three to six in the past week.

On the same day as the judge’s announcement, researchers from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi presented data showing a continuing increase of COVID-19 cases in South Texas, particularly Nueces County.

“We are part of a Texas-wide outbreak,” said Dr. Chris Bird, associate professor of biology at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “We have eclipsed Dallas and San Antonio in the numbers of new cases per day per capita, and we’re getting close to Houston. This is maybe the most alarming trend for South Texas in general.”

Bird makes a presentation of the researchers’ latest finding every Friday at a joint Nueces County-city of Corpus Christi media conference in City Hall. The team uses smartphone data to track where people are going and how far they go. According to recent figures, patterns of movement have returned to pre-pandemic levels, Bird said.

Research also shows that the increase has moved beyond the Memorial Day weekend bump, which targeted people ages 20-39.

“At this point, everybody is getting it,” Bird said. “The cases are popping up everywhere. We are in a scenario now that, without a change in behavior, we don’t expect there’s going to be a decline. COVID-19 is out there, and it’s spreading rapidly in the Coastal Bend area.”

Research show that masks are one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of the virus, Bird continued.

“It’s very important to wear face coverings in public,” he continued.

If we all wear face coverings, that’s going to reduce COVID-19, but realize that the face covering does not make you Superman or Superwoman. Just because you have a face mask on doesn’t mean that you can get closer than six feet away from somebody else. You still want to social distance with the face mask to really reduce transmission.”

Masks protect the wearer and those around them, Canales said in her video message. Wearing masks in public allows businesses to operate safely. She pointed out that all the major metropolitan areas in Texas are now requiring masks, although there is not a statewide order.

Governor Greg Abbott’s Opening Texas executive orders, which are now in Phase III of a four-phase reopening plan, give counties and cities the authority to implement and enforce mask wearing. Entities with mask orders can fine a business that does not follow those orders.

When the order is finally signed into law, Canales promised that businesses, employees, and customers would have plenty of time to adjust to the orders, including obtaining face masks.

“I believe (a mandatory face mask order) is needed, and I’d like to get one as soon as possible,” she said. “But I want to do it right. I want an order that is right for Nueces County. And the order will and can come out as soon as we can do that correctly. Until then, I’m going to ask all citizens and businesses to act responsibility and conduct yourself as if we had an order in place.”

To follow the latest news on COVID-19 in Corpus Christi, check the Corpus Christi Business News' COVID-19 Resource Page.

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There are 4 comments.

A. E. Guajardo —
I went to the Acapulco restaurant on Webber, close to Gollihar today. Except for ourselves and one other older couple nobody else was waering a mask. The staff were wearing masks and the tables had social distancing. Who is responsible to tell these people to wear a mask? And, btw, some were children. Do these people really don't care if their kids get sick.?!
RO —
Its less then 1% of the population we are taking precautions for....why? Everyone is always giving up rights due to fear. We are wear mask but stand in line to close, touch handles, keypads at stores, etc... none of this makes sense. The state or city should be able to make business or people wear anything...
Mike Baron —
How do you eat or drink at a restaurant while wearing your mask?
Steven Boyle —
Where is the legislature in all these "mandatory" orders that carry all these penalties? This isn't a monarchy and I'm not a surf in their estate. Pass a proper law. I'm heartily sick of all the Executive Actions based on one person's decision being treated as law. That's NOT how our government is supposed to work and "emergency powers" aren't perpetual.

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