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(Miguel Gutierrez/POOL via The Texas Tribune)

Austin Mayor Steve Adler, along with the mayors of eight other large Texas cities, sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott today asking for the authority to regulate the use of face coverings in their cities, which they are currently not able to do.


"We should trust local officials to make informed choices about health policy," the group wrote. "And if mayors are given the opportunity to require face coverings, we believe our cities will be ready to help reduce the spread of this disease."

Adler shared the letter on Twitter shortly after a virtual press conference, during which Abbott both recommended that Texans wear face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19 and said he would not allow local governments to require them to do so.

"COVID-19 still exists in Texas, and if we are to contain the spread while getting Texans back to work, all Texans must do their part," Abbott said. "The more Texans protect their own health, the safer our state will be, and the more we will be able to open up for business."



The letter campaign arrives after a documented spike in new confirmed COVID-19 cases and four consecutive days of record-breaking hospitalization rates at the state level. Texas reported 2,622 new cases today, an all-time high.

While Abbott said he is not concerned about the "abundant hospital capacity that exists to treat Texans," local officials are worried that these rates may continue to rise—leading to an overwhelmed health care system.

"Once we enter this trajectory, it's very difficult to get out," Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said last week.

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