Dallas County Commissioner J.J. Koch, a Republican, attended a meeting Tuesday, but he refused to wear a mask. As a result, a court bailiff escorted him out because of his refusal as ordered by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
Jenkins reportedly gave the participants enough time to wear a mask and told them they could attend the meeting from another room virtually if they did not have a mask.
This is the first meeting of the Dallas County Commissioners Court in about a month, and all members wore a mask except for Koch. The meeting was about the commissioners approving spending up to $255,000 to buy tickets at the State Fair or Six Flags Over Texas as incentives for those who will get vaccinated.
Koch’s refusal comes on the heels of Jenkins’ order Tuesday that the people attending the meeting are required to wear a mask. He said he made the decision after consulting with local doctors amid growing concerns over climbing COVID-19 cases driven by the contagious delta variant.
His order requiring masks at the meeting was also based on a Texas Supreme Court order giving judges the power to take measures to protect people in their courtrooms. Other Dallas County judges made the same move by Jenkins on Monday.
Koch released a statement regarding his removal. He said that it was an overstep as to the authority of Jenkins because they should be following the rules set by Republican Governor Greg Abbott. “What he wants to do is misrepresent the law. This is in keeping with how he acts. He asks forgiveness, not permission,” Koch added. His attorneys are also reportedly planning to sue the county judge over his removal.
The order of Jenkins comes days after Abbott released a ban on mask mandates by local government officials. Abbott said that masks should not be required in public places like schools and hospitals and should not even mandate citizens to get vaccinated. The ban also does not allow county judges to impose their restrictions.
In Dallas County, the new cases for three days have already reached 2,132. It is a 145 percent jump from last week’s cases.