AUSTIN, Texas — In an April 14 press conference, Austin Mayor Steve Adler called on the community to follow the new order concerning face coverings.
Adler outlined two major points to the new order issued on April 13.
First, he detailed the addition of the requirement rather than recommendation for residents to wear masks in public. Second, Adler encouraged self-policing of the order to hold each other accountable as citizens in Travis County.
Officials said they are enforcing additional regulations amid concerns that people who may not have symptoms may be most contagious early in infection. For a more detailed look at the stay-at-home order issued on April 13, you can read about it here.
Dr. Mark Escott said they believe wearing masks in conjunction with social distancing may help us "open the window a little bit, returning businesses back to operation."
"If we embrace this together, we will get through this together," Dr. Escott said. "We have to stay strong, folks. We are going to recover together and be stronger in the long term."
Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said 10 years old was the age used in the order because it is the one "most commonly used in statute" when regarding similar orders.
"We recognize that it is very difficult to require or hold a two-year-old accountable for wearing a mask and practicing social distancing," Eckhardt said.
However, Adler added that the order states parents should ensure children should be appropriately masked to meet CDC guidelines. The CDC guideline states children over two years old should wear masks, according to Adler.
This comes after officials extended the stay-at-home order for Travis County until 11:59 p.m. on May 8 with additional requirements for facial coverings. The original order was announced on March 23 and was issued to last until April 13; however, the order will now remain in place in a continued effort to practice social distancing and to flatten the coronavirus curve.
For more information about the updated stay-at-home order, read it here on KVUE.
Escott said he expects the facial covering requirement to be "a long-standing requirement." Escott said regarding talks about a "peak" or coronavirus, there has been a misconception that COVID-19 then suddenly goes away.
"The peak that we're talking about that we may be getting close to is a peak we've engineered, that you as a community has engineered," Escott said. "We have to look at strategies for the long term. We need to buy time for more PPE, to buy time for more testing capability, to buy time for enhancing our contact tracing."
Escott said he did not want to personally predict a peak because the timing is dependent on how well Travis County adheres to the facial covering and social distancing policies put into place.
Eckhardt said in the April 14 press conference that Travis County's UNACAST grade on social distancing had fallen from an A- to a C. She attributed the drop to increased activity over the Easter weekend.
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