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Texas AG Threatens to Sue Austin Over Its Mask Mandate

Ken Paxton says city, county are in violation of governor's order
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2021 2:33 AM CST

(Newser) – "Maybe it’s oxygen deprivation from quintuple-masking" that's causing the city of Austin, Texas, to continue mandating residents wear facial coverings in local businesses, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton hypothesized in a tweet Wednesday. Seeing as the state's governor, Greg Abbott, last week lifted the state's mask mandate and has issued an executive order stating that no resident can be required by a jurisdiction to wear one, Paxton says, "Travis County and Austin have a few hours to comply with state law or I’ll sue them." Austin's mayor, Steve Adler, says the city will continue enforcing its own safety mandates, which carry a fine of up to $2,000 for violators, NBC News reports.

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"We will fight Gov. Abbott and Attorney General Paxton’s assault against doctors and data for as long as we possibly can," Adler tells the Austin American-Statesman. "I believe leaders need to be clear and unambiguous in their communications and messaging about masking. Masks work! The Governor and Attorney General are simply wrong." He adds that it was the county health authority who developed the mask mandate amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. "The public health authority is responsible for the control of disease outbreak in Austin-Travis county and will continue to utilize the rules he has set forth in helping to further mitigate the risk of spread," he says. Travis County Judge Andy Brown, who was also addressed in Paxton's threat, says county residents are in favor of the mandate, and only 9% are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. (Read more Texas stories.)

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