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Local leaders react to Governor Abbott’s executive order barring mask requirements



On Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order barring local government entities from requiring masks.The governor said the order is meant to defend Texans’ right to choose.

If local governments, like cities and counties don’t obey, they could face a fine of up to $1,000.

“it’s very interesting because it basically removes local control,” said Taylor County Judge Downing Bolls, reacting to the executive order.

He told KTXS the new order, and the fine, are frustrating.

“Almost from the beginning, they took away our ability as a local government to get involved in this and to handle the situation in our own county,” said Bolls.

Since the pandemic started, Bolls said Taylor County has followed what the state said.

“We’re partners,” Bolls said. “This is a hard time for local government in the state, you know, in the states trying to do all kinds of things in the legislature is affecting how the local government operates.”

This executive order, Bolls explained, seems unfairly pointed.

“Everything in there is local, local government shall not do this local government shall not do that,” he explained. “We’re not the enemy here. We’re partners.”

“Do you feel like this order makes you feel like the enemy?” asked reporter Daniela Ibarra.

“I think it looks it looks a little funny,” Bolls replied.

Brown County Judge Paul Lilly told KTXS he is fully supportive of the governor’s new executive order.

“I do not feel it in any way insults the authority of local officials,” he said via text. “We must all work together and the order makes sure we are all unified in our protection of individuals rights. The worst part of the pandemic is over and we must work in returning to normal life.”

Starting June 5, the new executive order adds public school districts to the list of entities that can’t require masks.

On Wednesday, Abilene ISD superintendent Dr. David Young told reporters he approved of the executive order.

“We have to become comfortable with getting back to a normal instructional operation,” he said.

Dr. Young said 100 percent of staff have had the opportunity to get vaccinated, and estimates between 70 to 80 percent are vaccinated.

“There’s that huge group right there of elementary school aged kids that we don’t know when they’re going to get vaccinated,” stated Ibarra. “Do you still feel comfortable with that going into the next school year?”

“I think that, that we would not have a governor who wouldn’t be doing what he is doing and the CDC wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing, without believing that we can safely do that,” responded Young. “I’ve just got to trust that the, the people that are deeply in tune with the characteristics of the virus and with the vaccine and with, with all of the scientific analysis are our giving wise counsel to us as we move forward.”

There are several places exempted from the executive order, including state-supported living centers, government-owned or operated hospitals, and county jails.