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VERIFY: Did Gov. Abbott end the statewide mask mandate?

Some people have been confused about whether the Texas mask mandate has been lifted

BEAUMONT, Texas — Over the weekend, there was some confusion about the statewide mask order put in place by Gov. Greg Abbott back in July. 

Some thought it was no longer in effect. 

On Tuesday, 12News verified that Gov. Abbott's face covering order is still in effect. What confused some people is the wording in his disaster declaration. That's completely different than the mask mandate. 

When Abbott signed the extension for his disaster declaration, he said 'I urge Texans to take precautionary steps to protect their health by wearing a mask.' 

Many took that to mean masks are optional. A spokesperson for the governor's office confirmed the mask mandate was still in effect. 

He issued that executive order back in July. At the bottom of the document, it says it's in effect and full force until further notice. 

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The disaster declaration was issued in March. Last week, Abbott simply extended it.

With the declaration in place, the governor, county judges and mayors have the power to respond to emergencies to "reduce the vulnerability of people and communities." 

Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick explained that the disaster declaration makes it possible to receive federal aid when disaster strikes. 

"But in order to exercise those powers, you have to have an emergency mandate in place. The governor has to renew his every 30 days, county judges have to renew theirs every 7 days, as well as mayors," Branick said. 

   

Branick said the declaration helps qualify the county for the help it needs. 

"So I had to do a disaster declaration in order for us to be eligible for category a, b and c, which is emergency measures, debris removal, paying for the cost of testing that we've done, for overtime expenses that we get when we get disasters, all those sorts of things," Branick said. 

Until Gov. Abbott says otherwise, his mask mandate remains in effect for all Texas counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases.