Speed Reads

the coronavirus crisis

Texas AG threatens to sue Austin officials if they don't lift mask mandates

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton threatened to sue local officials who don't comply with Gov. Greg Abbott's latest coronavirus-related executive order, which lifted mask mandates across the state.

Paxton's ire was specifically directed at Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Andy Brown, who said Tuesday that masks were still required inside businesses in the city and county and violators would remain subject to a $2,000 fine. They argued keeping the local mandate was allowable because it was developed by a public health authority, rather than the city council or Travis County Commissioners Court.

But Paxton pushed back on that idea and said he would give them until 6 p.m. CT to reverse course or else he'll take them to court, sarcastically wondering on Twitter whether they were suffering from "oxygen deprivation" because of their masks.

Abbot's order not only rescinds the mask mandate, but allows all businesses to operate at full capacity, a decision that has been met with skepticism from critics, including Adler and Brown, who believe the state has not reached a high enough vaccination rate to warrant easing pandemic restrictions so quickly. Read more at The Austin-American Statesman.