County officials are encouraging face coverings to be worn while out in public in Guadalupe County.
County Judge Kyle Kutscher signed an advisory Friday strongly suggesting that businesses in the county mandate use of face coverings in their establishments to help minimize the spread of COVID-19.
The advisory comes amid increases across Texas and other states, where higher numbers of positive test results, higher positivity results and more hospitalizations have been realized.
“Whereas, based on guidance from our regional public health authority, it is strongly suggested that face coverings be worn while in public or visiting commercial establishments, and to maintain at least 6 feet distance between individuals in order to help slow community transmission of COVID-19 within the county,” the advisory reads.
“Now, therefore, be it (advised) by the county judge of Guadalupe County, Texas, face coverings or mask(s) should be worn by all when in public where it is not possible to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between individuals,” the advisory continued.
Kutscher issued and signed the document Friday.
He said it is very similar to orders seen in neighboring cities but the advisory comes with no punishable fine attached. The county’s resources would make enforcing a punishable order very difficult so, after consulting with mayors in Guadalupe County and state health officials, the advisory was adopted.
“I’m not in favor of requiring or signing a mask ordinance that criminalizes not wearing a mask,” Kutscher said. “We wanted to reinforce the importance of being safe wearing a mask when you’re out in public and around other people.”
County officials continue to monitor the numbers of tests of its residents, numbers of positive tests confirmed locally and, most importantly, the numbers of people being hospitalized, Kutscher said. He didn’t have updated numbers readily available early Friday afternoon but said that Guadalupe Regional Medical Center and other hospitals in the region had seen increases over the past week in COVID cases.
Guadalupe County’s advisory says that commercial entities operating in the county must develop and implement health and safety policies that should include “at a minimum” that all employees and visitors to businesses’ premises wear face coverings when doing things in close contact with others.
It also recommends businesses do things like perform temperature checks and health screenings.
The county advisory suggests that people 10 years old or older wear face coverings when in public places where it is difficult to remain 6 feet apart.
“Face coverings may include homemade masks, scarfs, bandanas, or a handkerchief,” the advisory reads. “County residents should continue to maintain social distancing at least 6 feet while outside their home. County employees should also wear face coverings under the same circumstance as the general public.”
He, the mayors and the Department of State Health Services epidemiologists and regional incident commander worked on the advisory a few days prior to his signing it Friday, Kutscher said. It has no definitive termination date, the judge said.
“It really is letting the public know from an advisory standpoint that we’re really at a crucial point in Guadalupe County as well as the region and the state,” Kutscher said. “The public needs to heed the warning and protect themselves, their families and the community by practicing those guidelines.”