Nearly 80 Texas counties have opted out of Gov. Greg Abbott's mask order. Others refuse to enforce it.

Nearly 80 Texas counties have opted out of Gov. Greg Abbott's mask ...

The governor allowed counties with 20 active cases or fewer to opt out.

https://static.texastribune.org/media/files/ded2259734acc50801786a4a94a839ff/ATX%20COVID%20File%20June%2024%20MG%20TT%2004.jpg" alt="Pedestrians in downtown Austin on June 24, 2020." class="did-load c-image__img" />
In a press release announcing the order, Gov. Greg Abbott said that "wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19." Photo credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

When Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statewide executive order requiring Texans to wear masks in public, he gave counties the opportunity to opt out if they have a low number of active coronavirus cases.

A week later, 78 counties have taken him up on that offer. And a handful of other local governments have insisted that they won't enforce the order even though they don't qualify for the opt-out provision. Officials cited a desire to preserve personal freedoms or concerns about enforcement.

"I think it's an insult to Texans to be required to do something they should have discretion for," said Hugh Reed, the top administrator for rural Armstrong County, near Amarillo, which opted out.

In a press release announcing the order, Abbott said that "wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19." Public health experts broadly agree that masks slow the spread of the virus, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend face coverings for anyone 2 or older in public settings.

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