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Bell County officials to make announcement regarding face masks Wednesday

Posted at 8:28 PM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-23 21:30:40-04

As COVID-19 cases rise in Texas, it's sparked a debate about whether governments should order residents to do something, many say, we should want to do ourselves.​

No place is that discussion more important than in Bell County, which has one of the highest infection rates in Central Texas.​

​After roughly six weeks of a mandatory closure, Roxane McWha finally reopened her book store with an eye on corralling the coronavirus.​

She suits up for work with a face covering every day.​

"I wear it because I've got a store and I've got customers coming in, and I just want to, you know, be safe around the customers," she explained.

As businesses have reopened across Texas, infection rates have also increased.​ In a press conference Monday, Governor Abbott said the positivity rate in testing has gone from 4.5% in late May to almost 9%.

That's caused many to call for mandatory face coverings.​

But McWha says "Big Brother" shouldn't have to order us to do the right thing.​

"I don't want them to tell me I have to do it. I do it 'cause I want to," she said.

Here's why- Texas set records over the weekend in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19.​

The state reported over 5,000 new one-day case count on June 23, the highest one-day jump since Texas began tracking cases on March 26.

That same day, Texas reported 3,711 hospitalizations, setting a record for the 11th straight day with a single-day jump of 302 new patients.​

Bell County Commissioner Russell Schneider says it has people talking.​

"The county forcing you to wear a mask in businesses versus not... infringing on people's rights or not," he said.

With a stubbornly high infection rate, the debate over mandatory face coverings has become almost urgent as cases statewide keep climbing. Bell County's numbers are seeing a similar trend.​

So should governments make the call?​

"That's just a hard question depending on who you ask. I've heard both people on both sides of the fence who don't want to be ordered and some that want to be ordered," said Schneider.

Will orders to "suit up" really help?​ Leaders in Waco, and some of its suburbs certainly hope so, after issuing orders over the weekend.​

Bell County residents seem to have mixed opinions. Hardly any shoppers at a Belton grocery store suited up to shop, while across the street, more folks did cover their faces at a "supercenter." ​

"Now, if you want to wear it, wear it. If you feel safe wearing it, wear it," said McWha.

Bell County judge David Blackburn says he’s still gathering information and thinking about his next move. He’s scheduled a 2 p.m. press conference Wednesday to talk about it.​