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Questions about mask mandates start as Omicron cases rise

After a Travis County court ruled that Governor Greg Abbott can not impose a ban on local...
After a Travis County court ruled that Governor Greg Abbott can not impose a ban on local government mask mandates, many are wondering what this could mean with Omicron cases rising in Central Texas.(WILX)
Published: Jan. 8, 2022 at 5:22 PM CST
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - After a Travis County court ruled that Governor Greg Abbott can not impose a ban on local government mask mandates, many are wondering what this could mean with Omicron cases rising in Central Texas.

In McLennan County, Public Health District Assistant Director Stephanie Alvey says there will not be a mask mandate, nor have there been any conversations about it.

“All of our guidance has always maintained masking as a piece of the puzzle,” she said.

“Masking has always been a piece of that and continues to be a piece of that. We understand the appetite for that in our local community and so, it’s not something we’re pushing hard to mandate, but we continue to recommend it as a mitigation effort to reduce the spread.”

Meanwhile in Bell County, Public Health Director Nikki Morrow said they’re not planning to implement a mask mandate either.

She left the following statement:

“Omicron is highly contagious and rapidly spreading in communities. The vaccine remains the best defense to prevent severe illness, hospitalizations and death.”

Killeen City Councilwoman Mellisa Brown says the city echoes these sentiments and adds her biggest concern is keeping hospitalizations down.

“Ever since case numbers have gone up, we’re seeing a lot more milder cases,” she said.

“Hospitalizations now are not as high as they were during Delta.”

This week, McLennan County rose to 2,506 cases while Bell County reported 1,047 cases.

While the push for masks and vaccines continue, Brown adds that COVID tests are hard to come by and says these mitigations could make a major difference.

“We do have limited supplies and we’re trying to follow CDC guidelines which means if you’ve come in direct contact with a COVID positive patient, or if you’re showing symptoms, then you should be tested,” she said.

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