El Paso Health Authority to impose mask rule; City Council suing governor
UPDATE: El Paso City/County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza told City Council he planned to impose a mask mandate, requiring that face coverings be worn at all indoor establishments, including schools, starting Wednesday morning. The mandate would be in effect for 30 days and the re-evaluated based on local Covid-19 conditions.
In defense of Ocaranza’s decision, Council voted 5-3 to file a lawsuit Monday night against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Ocaranza’s mandate would defy an executive order from the governor banning mask mandates. The city’s legal position is that state law allows the Health Authority to impose emergency health mandates – and the governor can’t override it with an executive order.
Prior to the vote, 70 members of the public spoke on both sides of the issue during a public comment session. You can watch that entire meeting in the video player at the top of this article.
ORIGINAL REPORT: EL PASO, Texas — The El Paso City Council scheduled an emergency meeting for 4 p.m. Monday to consider taking legal action against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott over his executive orders limiting the ability of local governments to issue health mandates to deal with Covid-19.
The meeting comes after several school districts and a handful of counties across the state have defied Abbott’s order that restricted local entities from instituting mask mandates. The Texas Supreme Court in recent days temporarily upheld that order from Abbott.
The meeting also comes after El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego over the weekend asked City/County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza to defy Abbott and impose a mask mandate as El Paso hospitals were nearing capacity.
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