Waco Police to Enforce Mask Order as McLennan County’s COVID-19 Rate Among Highest in State
According to Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver, Waco police are responding to calls reporting violations of the mandatory face mask order. Concerned citizens or business owners can report mask violations to the city’s code enforcement department by calling 254-750-5970. They should not call 911 to report someone who is violating the face mask order.
Police will talk to violators and issue warnings. However, repeat offenders will receive citations if they continue to violate the Governor’s statewide order.
The push to enforce face make requirements in Waco comes after a surge in COVID-19 cases throughout McLennan County. The county has the fifth-highest per capita number of COVID-19 cases among other Texas counties that have more than 200,000 residents. The positivity rate for McLennan county has exceeded 20 percent, compared to the state’s positivity rate of 14.4 percent on a seven-day rolling average.
According to Mayor Deaver, “We are, and continue to be, in a really bad situation.” He believes that having police enforce the face mask order is better than having businesses act as police. As individuals continue to report violations of the face mask order, the number of citations issued by police officers may increase.
Texas Statewide Face Mask Order
In response to the surge in coronavirus cases in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott ordered all individuals in Texas to wear a face-covering as of July 3, 2020, at 12:01 p.m.
Every person must wear a face covering over their mouths and noses when in a public building or public outdoor space. Face masks are not required when individuals can maintain six feet of social distancing from people who are not in their household.
Exceptions to the face mask requirement in Texas include:
- Children who are younger than ten years of age
- A person who has a disability or medical condition that prevents them from wearing a face mask
- People who are seated at a restaurant to eat or drink and while consuming food and beverages
- Individuals who are exercising or engaged in activities outdoors while maintaining social distancing from people not in their households
- People who are in a vehicle alone or with people of the same household
- Individuals who obtain a service that requires temporary removal of the face mask
- People who are swimming in a lake, pool, or similar body of water
- Individuals who are voting, working as a poll watcher, assisting a voter, or actively administering an election (face masks are strongly recommended)
- People who are providing or obtaining access to religious worship (face masks are strongly recommended)
- People giving speeches to audiences or for broadcast
- Individuals living in a county that meet the qualifications to be exempt from the face mask requirements
People who are attending protests or demonstrations of more than ten people who are not social distancing are not exempt from the face mask requirement.
Police officers may give a written or verbal warning for first-time violators. A second violation of the face mask law in Texas can result in a fine of up to $250. Subsequent violations will result in fines of up to $250.
Centers for Disease Control Calls for Americans to Wear Face Masks
In a Press Release dated July 14, 2020, the CDC urges everyone to use a face mask to slow the spread of COVID-19. The CDC direction stated that we are “not defenseless” against the virus. Cloth face masks are one of the most powerful tools Americans have to slow and stop the spread of COVID-19.
It is essential to wear a face mask to prevent the spread of the virus by people who may not be aware they have the virus. Wearing a face mask protects the people you come into contact with while in stores, offices, restaurants, and other public places. When people wear face masks around you, they are protecting you.
The debate about whether to wear a face-covering in public continues. Some people believe that being forced to wear a face-covering violates their constitutional rights. Other people merely do not like the way the mask feels when they wear it.
As more states, cities, and county government mandate wearing a face mask to slow the spread of COVID-19, the only choice may be whether to wear the mask or pay a fine.
In addition to wearing face masks, it is also important to continue following all of the local, state, and federal guidelines for the coronavirus. The CDC updates the list of COVID-19 symptoms on its website as new symptoms and information are discovered. It also has safety tips for taking care of yourself and your family during the coronavirus outbreak.