Wichita County commissioners worry over potential state lockdown

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — As COVID cases continue to rise throughout the state, Wichita County Commissioners said it would not surprise them if another lockdown could be coming from Governor Greg Abbott.

County Judge Woody Gossom said by listening to Governor Abbott’s speeches, Abbott has been urging people to wear masks as the best way to avoid more restrictions on the state.

“Folks I don’t know if our economy can take another lockdown like that. It’d be devastating. So we really need to step it up. We really need to do whatever we can,” Wichita County Precinct 2 commissioner Lee Harvey said.

According to Gossom, Abbott warns more lockdowns could be coming if the statewide mask mandate isn’t followed. Wichita County leaders are concerned for if portions of the local economy are shutdown.

“He’s sending messages if you listen to him,” Gossom said. “He says I want everybody to wear a mask to avoid that. Wish he had said that month and a half two months ago.”

Back in April, Wichita Falls and Wichita County leaders announced an order that required citizens over the age of 6 to wear a mask. But since it was not in line with the governor’s executive order at the time, it was rescinded. Now Wichita County commissioners are wondering how cases would look had that order stayed in place.

“If we had taken that into account when this court approved that as a county-wide action and then the governor stepped in and curved that when we approved masks,” Gossom said during the meeting.

“It might be a lot different numbers right now,” Harvey responded.

“I believe it would be. But you can’t put the tooth paste back in the tube,” Gossom said.

After previously thinking the governor’s current mask order could be easily enforced, Gossom is hearing from law enforcement on just how tough that is.

“It says you can’t detain someone. I thought that meant you couldn’t put them in jail for it but Ms. Jennings and the sheriff have said ‘No. To a law enforcement person that means you detain them while you’re doing something. You hold them.’ So that vagueness in his terminology leaves that up for grabs.”

Concern over stimulating the local economy and public safety mark the frustrations for county officials during this ongoing pandemic.

Gossom is also urging people to wear a mask and practice social distancing to try to help the state not go back to another shelter in place order.

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