Tarrant County judge wants authority to cite people who don’t wear masks

With cases on the rise in Tarrant County, the county judge is asking for the authority to penalize people who do not follow mask mandates.

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said the governor needs to do more to fight the surge in cases or he needs to give local leaders more authority.

Judge Whitley believes harsher restrictions are necessary to ensure there are open hospital beds.

This week he suggested youth and school sports be suspended. He would also like permission to fine people who violate the mask mandate.

He said if people want to avoid a widespread shutdown, they need to mask up.

“I just cannot stress the importance of wearing a mask. The elections are over. Quit making it a political issue. Let’s get on the same team and let’s beat this thing,” Judge Whitley said. “If we had the ability to give a couple of citations, it’ll be the cities and it could be the sheriff’s department. But I think if folks felt like we’re serious about this they’d say okay we’re going to wear a mask.”

North Texas could be on track for more restrictions anyway.

Under the governor’s current orders, non-essential businesses have to reduce capacity if COVID-19 hospitalizations reach 15% of total hospital capacity for seven straight days. North Texas is at 12% right now.

Judge Whitley worries holiday travel will make it worse.

He is urging people to keep Thanksgiving gatherings small and safe. And he wants churches to consider streaming services only.