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Call for statewide mask mandate in Texas amid COVID-19 surge

Medical experts continue to stress that wearing a mask or face covering is among the best ways to stay safe.

HOUSTON, Texas — A properly fitting mask or face covering continues to be part of the prescribed method of helping to control COVID-19.

"It should fit snuggly over your mouth and your nose," said Dr. James McDeavitt with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

McDeavitt considers mask usage, social distancing and good hygiene more important than ever as new cases surge.

"We need to change behavior fairly rapidly," said McDeavitt. "Because the changes we make today, based on the incubation period of the virus, aren’t going to show up for another two weeks.”

The Texas Democratic Party urged Gov. Greg Abbott to issue a statewide mask mandate during a virtual news conference on Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, Texas set a new single-day record with 8,076 new COVID-19 cases.

"A mandate for wearing masks is the most effective thing we can do to stop the spread of this coronavirus,” said state Rep. Donna Howard of Austin.

Abbott previously issued an executive order banning local governments from penalizing people who don’t wear masks in public.

But he did not oppose newer rules, like those in Harris County, that require face coverings inside businesses.

Right now, 10 rural counties in Texas have zero positive cases of COVID-19, according to Texas Department of State Health Services data.

Many others have very low numbers compared to metro areas.

That's why some say putting all counties in one basket through a statewide order is not needed.

County judges in Polk and Trinity counties told KHOU 11 News there’d be no way for them to enforce a mask mandate anyway.

"But certainly today, based on the science and scientist opinions, there’s no question that people should be masking in public spaces,” said Dr. McDeavitt.

He said that advice applies regardless of what the official rules may or may not say.

Find out more about county case numbers here.

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