As coronavirus cases continue to climb in many U.S. states, local leaders are more strictly enforcing ordinances requiring residents to wear a face mask when outside of their homes.
One such order came recently from Houston, Texas, Mayor Sylvester Turner, who announced a $250 fine for anyone who repeatedly disobeys, as reported by Breitbart.
“Lives are at stake”
The Democratic mayor’s ruling came after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, softened his initial stance vowing to push back on any city that put a face mask law in place.
Houston has seen a surge in positive case results as testing across the state has increased over recent months.
Turner is hoping that his mandate will help keep the hospitalization rate trending downward and is ordering police to issue fines to those found to be in violation of the order. A first offense will warrant a warning, according to reports, while the $250 fine would be implemented if a person violates the policy again.
“Lives are at stake so I’m taking this step to drive these numbers down,” he said.
Many Democrats have criticized the Trump administration for declining to issue a nationwide mask order, though the president has downplayed the need for such a move.
“I’m a believer in masks”
In an interview last month, he acknowledged the potential benefits of wearing a mask but said he had no plans to hand down a national mandate.
“I don’t agree with the statement that if everybody wore a mask, everything disappears,” he said, noting that White House coronavirus task force adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci and others initially advised against the practice for ordinary citizens.
“Everybody was saying don’t wear a mask, all of a sudden everybody’s gotta wear a mask,” Trump said. “And as you know, masks cause problems too. That being said, I’m a believer in masks, I think masks are good.”
Houston is not the only locality in which refusing to mask up could be costly. In Miami, Florida, for instance, three citations could land a violator behind bars.
As influenza season approaches, it is possible that a second wave of the virus could necessitate the implementation of a more widespread mask order. Trump and others, however, continue to make it clear that they believe such a time has not yet come.