Don't take off your face masks just yet.
Fayette County Judge Joe Weber announced this afternoon, Friday, Oct. 16, that the Texas Department of Emergency Management has granted Fayette County an exemption to Governor Greg Abbott's statewide face covering mandate. The exemption allows Weber to lift the mask order, but he has not yet done so.
Weber said he intends to lift the mandate if the number of active coronavirus cases stays "manageable" in Fayette County.
Weber released the following statement shortly after 4 p.m. on Friday:
To the residents of Fayette County: under the guidelines and directives provided within the Governor’s Executive Order GA-29, I have applied for an exemption to the mask mandate. Today, under the website of the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM), Fayette County was added to a list of 69 other counties which have also been authorized an exemption. Exemptions are granted based on a county’s confirmed active cases of COVID being under 30 from the previous 14 days. Today, 16 October, Fayette County’s confirmed active COVID number as provided by Department of State Health Services (DSHS), is 12. Should the number ever exceed 30 confirmed active cases, Fayette County would automatically lose its exemption and be removed from TDEM’s website listing of exempted counties. And should this occur, the county would be unable to reapply for another exemption until a 14 day waiting period has passed along with an additional 14 days of postings totaling less than 30 confirmed active cases. At this point in time, Fayette County, though granted an exemption, remains under the Executive Order GA-29 mask mandate. The first step in the process of lifting the mandate, qualifying for the exemption, has been achieved. The next step in the process is I, the Fayette County Judge, issuing an order specifically lifting the mandate for our county. It is my hope and intention to issue just such an order in the not too distant future. I am in the process of reviewing the number and types of indoor/outdoor events that have been approved to take place in the county, studying the most current data available from the health community’s subject matter experts, and carefully evaluating the health risks of moving forward with less restrictive measures while at the same time attempting to prevent further economic hardships on our residents and businesses.
I ask all County residents to remain patient in continuing to abide by the Governor’s mask mandate as directed in Executive Order GA-29. If we can continue to demonstrate that Fayette County can successfully manage its confirmed case count, it is my intent to issue an official order lifting the mandate. I thank all of you for your patience, cooperation and attention to detail as we continue to make progress in our County’s return to normalcy.
May God bless you all, and stay healthy!
The Honorable Joe Weber, Fayette County Judge
Look for more on this story in Tuesday's paper.