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Harris County face covering ordinance is in effect, but Gov. Abbott says you can't be fined

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said penalties are in effect for non-compliance, including fines of up to $1,000.

HOUSTON — Harris County's mandate to wear face coverings in public went into effect Monday. However, in revealing more details about his plan to reopen Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott said his executive order supersedes local enforcement of other orders.

In reference to the county's mandate, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said this is not a police state, but penalties are in effect for non-compliance, including fines of up to $1,000.

RELATED: Texas 'stay home' order will expire April 30, Gov. Abbott says

RELATED: 30-day mask order now in effect in Harris County, Houston: Here's what you need to know

Gov. Abbott said fines are prohibited under his order.

"We strongly recommend that everyone wear a mask," Gov. Abbott said. "However, it's not a mandate. And we'll make clear that no jurisdiction can impose any type of penalty or fine for anyone not wearing a mask. Everyone should be encouraged, but by my executive order, it supersedes local orders with regard to any type of fine or penalty for anyone not wearing a mask."

Both city and county officials have said they don’t plan to issue citations. But private businesses like supermarkets can keep you from entering without a face covering.

RELATED: Harris County mask rule in effect: Some stores may not let you in, trespass charges can be filed

RELATED: Retail stores, movie theaters, restaurants and malls able to reopen May 1, Gov. Abbott says

During a press conference Monday, Gov. Abbott announced he will not extend his existing stay-home order issued in March, allowing it to expire on April 30. He said starting May 1, all retail stores, movie theaters and malls can reopen with 25 percent capacity. Counties with five or fewer COVID-19 cases can reopen stores and malls at 50 percent capacity, Gov. Abbott said.

Coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Some patients also have nausea, body aches, headaches and stomach issues. Losing your sense of taste and/or smell can also be an early warning sign.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk for becoming seriously ill. However, U.S. experts are seeing a significant number of younger people being hospitalized, including some in ICU.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.

Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...

  • The air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Help stop the spread of coronavirus

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Eat and sleep separately from your family members
  • Use different utensils and dishes
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
  • Follow social distancing

Lower your risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.

Get complete coverage of the coronavirus by texting 'FACTS' to 713-526-1111.