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(Bob Daemmrich)

Texas Judge Lora Livingston ruled that the city of Austin can keep its citywide mask mandate, after a hearing on Friday morning.


Following a three-hour Zoom hearing, Livingston blocked a March 12 request by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to overrule the city health authority's masking restrictions.

The mandate, reinstated by Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott, enforces COVID restrictions such as masking and social distancing effective Wednesday, March 10. While Gov. Abbott's order that reopened Texas at 100% doesn't let local jurisdictions overrule his order, it does grant counties the authority to reverse the reopening if COVID hospitalizations increase.

Paxton went through with a lawsuit against the city earlier this month after threatening to do.

Austin currently has a COVID death rate lower than any other metro in Texas. While the city experiences 73 deaths per 100,000, Texas has about 160 per 100,000. Escott credits mask use with saving at least 1,100 Austinites.

The city was previously in a similar position when the county tried to enforce a curfew on New Year's Eve weekend. The Texas Supreme Court went in the state's favor.

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