By JOHN KANELIS / firstname.lastname@example.org
A headline in the Texas Tribune speaks loudly about some mayors’ response to Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to pull back his mask-wearing mandate.
It said: Texas’ largest cities will keep requiring masks in municipal buildings even after statewide mandate ends
I have no problem with what those mayors are doing, saying and how they are reacting to what I believe is a premature decision by Gov. Abbott.
My question is this: What are small-town and smaller-city mayors doing? Are they going to have the same reaction?
I live in a small town. Princeton, Texas, is home to about 13,000 residents, give or take a few hundred. We are perched along U.S. Highway 380 between McKinney to the west (population 200,000) and Farmersville to the east (population 5,000). I am acquainted with the mayors of Princeton and Farmersville. My strongest hope is that they, too, will invoke mask mandates in municipally owned buildings.
The Texas Tribune reports: Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and El Paso’s leaders announced Wednesday and Thursday that masks will be required to enter city-owned indoor spaces like libraries, police and fire department headquarters, convention centers and transportation hubs.
“I am going to issue an order mandating masks at all city-owned buildings. We have to do what we are legally allowed to do to get people to wear masks,” Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said on Twitter Thursday morning. “We also still need to practice social distancing. And we still need to avoid taking unnecessary risks. The pandemic is not over.”
No. It is not over. It is not yet close to being over. I will acknowledge, though, that the arrival of a third vaccine — from Johnson & Johnson — means that the end of this horror might be approaching.
Given that our smaller communities don’t get the kind of media attention that the big cities get, I want there to be a significant push by those city halls to get the word out immediately to their constituents. They need to let them know through any means necessary.
Of course, this strategy should apply to small cities and towns all across our vast state. Gov. Abbott can declare, I suppose, that state-owned buildings need not carry “Mask Required” signs. A state governed by politicians who adhere to the “local control is best” mantra should have no trouble allowing city halls to set their own rules regarding the best way to battle the COVID virus.
Let us not forget that President Biden has ordered masks and social distancing in all federal buildings at least for the first 100 days of his administration. My gut tells me he likely will extend that mandate well beyond that artificial deadline.
I will await word from my mayor, Brianna Chacon, on what she intends to do. I hope she stays the mask-wearing course.