Austin-Travis county mask mandate to remain in effect

Sheryl Lawrence

The Austin-Travis county mask mandate will remain in effect until at least April 21 by the ruling of State District Judge Lora Livingston. 

Travis County 261st District Court held the hearing on Friday morning, and the announcement of the mask mandate remaining in effect came at around 2:30 p.m. Friday afternoon. 

At the hearing, Mark Escott, the interim medical director and health authority for Austin-Travis County, was the only witness called by Austin-Travis county. The state did not call any witnesses.

During the hearing, Escott was asked many questions regarding the efficacy of masks and how many lives have been saved by the mask mandate.

“It’s clear that we haven’t beaten COVID-19 yet, and it’s clear that if we are able to maintain those protections, it’s going to buy us time to get people vaccinated, and ultimately it’s going to save lives,” Escott said.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is expected to appeal this ruling, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

On March 5, UT President Jay Hartzell announced that the University will continue to mandate masks on campus and enforce social distancing rules.

On March 13, Austin Public Health placed Austin-Travis County in Stage 3 for the COVID-19 risk category for the first time since November. Stage 3 recommends citizens continue social distancing, practicing good hygiene and avoiding gatherings with social groups greater than 10 people.