While Governor Greg Abbott issued a mask mandate for the state on July 2, County Judge Randy Jackson was granted an exemption for Archer County, due to having less than 20 active cases, but the judge warns the case count and exemption status can change daily.
The executive order issued by Abbott went into effect on Friday, July 3. It required Texans in counties with more than 20 COVID-19 cases to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth while in a building open to the public and public outdoor spaces whenever social distancing is not possible.
The order does provide some exceptions including those who are younger than 10-years-old, those who are eating or drinking or are seated at a restaurant, those who are exercising outdoors or swimming, those participating in an election, those participating in a religious worship, those who are giving a speech or broadcast to an audience and those who have a medical condition which prevents them from wearing a masks.
According to the executive order, a verbal or written warning will be given to first-time violators
of the mandate. A second violation shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $250 with each subsequent violation punishable by up to $250 fines. The order states law enforcement should not detain, arrest or confine any violators of the executive orders.
For residents of a county to be exempt from the mask mandate, the county must have less than 20 cases and the county judge had to submit an exemption form opting out of the mandate with the Texas Department of Emergency Management which Jackson did.
“Please keep in mind, there have been sharp increases or spikes in positive cases recently, and the number of Archer residents that have been tested, so our case numbers may change quickly, and we will be forced to adhere to the Governor’s Order,” Jackson wrote in a July 3 release. “Until we reach that critical time, everyone, please stay at home if you can and use social distancing and sanitary guidelines to protect your family and community.”
During his Tuesday, July 7, COVID-19 update, Jackson wrote there has been a total of 10 confirmed positive cases from county residents.
The judge also moved all offices in the Archer County Courthouse and Annex to appointment only with early voting in the annex continuing as planned. Each office will be requesting the public to use hand sanitizer and wear a mask before entering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
According to a previous release from the county judge, when someone is tested, they are self-isolated until negative test results come back which can take two to five days or until they are seven days free of any and all symptoms. The release adds a person who tests positive for COVID-19 is quarantined for two weeks and two negative tests are required for that person to return to work. Local Health Authorities, which is Doctor Aaron Purdy for Archer County, communicate with quarantined and isolated patients daily.
The judge encouraged anybody feeling sick to see a physician for COVID-19 screening, possible testing and isolation protocol.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever of chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headaches, new loss of tase or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose or diarrhea.