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San Antonio sues Gov. Abbott to allow city mask mandate | Legal proceedings explained

(File Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)
(File Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)
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SAN ANTONIO - The City of San Antonio and Bexar County filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Gov. Greg Abbott's ruling that suspended local officials the authority to cope with the recent surge of COVID-19 cases.

The lawsuit is asking for a temporary restraining order to halt the governor's latest emergency order. If the restraining order is granted, the San Antonio Bexar County Health Authority will immediately issue an order requiring masks in public schools and reinstating a quarantine if an unvaccinated student is said to have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Attorney Tim Maloney explains how the city’s temporary restraining order works...

“We are challenging the governor’s authority to suspend local emergency orders during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “Ironically, the governor is taking a state law meant to facilitate local action during an emergency and using it to prohibit local response to the emergency that he himself declared.”

Gov. Abbott's executive order suspended local governments the right to protect public safety under state law. One such law was enacted in 1975 that gave mayors, county judges and some public health officials the authority to enact emergency measures during a public health crisis. Gov. Abbott also prohibited medical authorities and school districts from requiring masks for unvaccinated students, while also blocking local government agencies from requiring their employees to wear masks.

“As the school year begins, the health of our students, especially those under 12 who are not eligible to be vaccinated, are being put at risk. The pandemic is not over. We need to continue to utilize every tool we have to combat the very contagious delta variant. We have come too far to allow our students to be super spreaders and put more lives at risk,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.

City leaders are hoping to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially to students under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination against the coronavirus.

Recently, the City of San Antonio issued an Emergency Alert in response to the “severe” risk threat that COVID-19 poses to the community. The city said 9 out of 10 patients that were hospitalized for COVID-19 were unvaccinated, and that 88% of all new cases are delta variant.

Judge Wolff issued a supplemental executive order that allows Bexar County to join the City of San Antonio in the lawsuit .

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