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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Gov. Abbott, AG Paxton take appeal of Dallas County’s mask mandate to Texas Supreme Court

Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton took their appeal of Dallas County’s mask mandate to the Texas Supreme Court.

Dallas County submitted its response by Saturday’s deadline.  Now the decision is in the hands of the Republican-dominated court.

For now, the mask mandate stays, with cases and hospitalizations surging. 

Shelly Guerrero was forced to say goodbye to her husband inside a North Texas hospital after COVID-19 took the life of Carlos Guerrero.

The 45-year-old was unvaccinated. 

“It all crashed in a blink of an eye,” she said. “This is no joke.”

She said Carlos’ dying wish was for others to get vaccinated.

“Don’t wait, it’s not worth it ,” she added.

Vaccine doses were ready to go at the Fair Park vaccination site on Saturday. 

“Do your duty and due diligence to protect each other,” Emily Citarella said. “Better safe than sorry.”

The hub celebrated crossing the 500,000 mark of doses delivered.

“That’s how we are going to win this battle against COVID-19,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said.

RELATED: There have now been 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered at Fair Park site

But Jenkins is wedged in a back-and-forth battle of his own. 

Gov. Abbott and AG Paxton filed an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, challenging Judge Jenkins’ mask mandate. 

By requiring masks in Dallas County public schools and businesses, the county defied Gov. Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates.

Saturday, letters signed by the Texas Association of School Boards and the Dallas County Medical Society were sent to the Texas Supreme Court advocating for the mask mandate to stay in place. 

Friday, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas at Dallas ruled in favor of the county judge, stating he has the authority to manage the COVID-19 crisis on a local level.

RELATED: Court rules against Gov. Abbott in legal battle over Dallas County mask mandate

However, AG Paxton argues the governor’s authority supersedes local government orders.

“Regardless of what they say, we will never stop working,” Jenkins said.

“This is preventable,” Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang added.

In July, Dallas County averaged 15,000 COVID-19 vaccinations a week. 

This week, there were about 35,000, which health officials are hoping provided some breathing room for an already strained healthcare system.

But that number is far from the 50,000 shot peak the county has seen in the past.

This week, pediatric bed availability in North Texas fell to zero, before four opened up the next day.

RELATED: No staffed pediatric ICU beds left in North Texas region, hospital official says

Dr. Huang is warning the trend doesn’t take away the fact that North Texas hospitals continue to hit capacity. 

“Almost all the people in the hospital and all the deaths are in unvaccinated persons,” Dr. Huang said.

And one of them was Carlos Guerrero. His wife is now living with regret.

“I would get the vaccine 200,000 times over and deal with the side effects than go through this. It’s got to be better than this,” Shelly said.

Local and state officials are still waiting on a ruling from the supreme court on the mask mandates from Dallas County and Bexar County, which includes San Antonio.  AG Paxton appealed them both.

If there is no decision Saturday, if could come down Sunday.

OTHER RELATED STORIES:

Dallas County mask mandate starts Thursday due to COVID-19 Delta variant outbreak

Judge grants Dallas County authority to issue mask mandate in defiance of Gov. Abbott’s order

New Abbott order looks to provide clarity on Texas COVID-19 response

Dallas Co. Commissioner JJ Koch escorted from meeting after refusing to wear mask

Dallas County commissioner sues over courtroom mask mandate, calls for Judge Jenkins’ removal

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