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Top Dallas County Official Files Legal Challenge To Gov. Greg Abbott’s Ban On Mask Mandates As Coronavirus Rages In Texas

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins speaks at a presser before opening Dallas Countyís first "mega" public vaccination site at Fair Park on Jan. 11.
Shelby Tauber for The Texas Tribune
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins speaks at a presser before opening Dallas Countyís first "mega" public vaccination site at Fair Park on Jan. 11.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins filed a legal challenge to Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on local mask mandates Monday, the North Texas official said on Twitter.

Jenkins said he’s asking for a court to rule that Abbott’s prohibition on local officials requiring people to wear masks — part of the governor’s July 29 executive order regarding the pandemic — is unenforceable.

Jenkins filed his request as part of an ongoing lawsuit between himself and Dallas County Commissioner J.J. Koch, according to The Dallas Morning News. That paper, which first obtained a copy of the court filing, reported that Jenkins is asking to be allowed to require mask wearing.

“The enemy is the virus and we must all do all that we can to protect public health,” Jenkins said in a tweet late Monday. “School districts and government closest to the people should make decisions on how best to keep students and others safe.”

Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Koch sued Jenkins Thursday after the county judge ordered the commissioner to be removed from a public meeting where Jenkins mandated mask wearing, according to The News.

Jenkins’ legal challenge over Abbott’s order comes as infections and COVID-19 hospitalizations skyrocket. Local Texas officials for weeks have been pushing back against Abbott’s executive order. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced last Monday that the city’s almost 22,000 employees will be required to wear masks inside city buildings where social distancing is not feasible.

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From The Texas Tribune

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