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Posted on: March 24, 2022

Statement Regarding Status of Lawsuits Filed by City of Denton and Office of the Attorney General

City of Denton logo in full color

DENTON, TX, Feb 3, 2022 – On March 24, 2022, the City of Denton and the Office of the Attorney General of Texas each filed motions to dismiss their pending lawsuits regarding the mask requirements that were included in the Nineteenth Order of Council of the City of Denton. That Order was rescinded by the Denton City Council on March 1, 2022, following the Feb. 25 update to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations regarding indoor masking.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has followed the guidance of the local, state, and national health officials, including the CDC, in setting local health-related policy. Prior to Feb. 25, the CDC had recommended universal indoor masking for areas of “high” or “substantial transmission”, of which Denton was classified. 

The new CDC guidelines focus on a community’s new COVID-19 hospitalizations, hospital beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients, and new COVID-19 case numbers. According to the new guidelines, Denton County currently falls in the CDC’s “Low” risk category. The CDC recommends universal indoor masking in counties categorized as “high” risk.

Background

On Feb. 17, 2022, the Office of the Attorney General sent a letter stating their position that the City of Denton’s requirement for individuals who work for the City of Denton to wear masks in all common areas violates Governor Abbott’s executive orders and requested the City to rescind the requirement contained in the Nineteenth Order of Council.

In response to this letter, the City filed a lawsuit on Feb. 22, 2022, to preserve its authority to have Denton employees wear masks during the City’s COVID-19 Emergency Declaration and Nineteenth Order of Council. This lawsuit sought to preserve Denton's workplace masking to protect Denton's employees and the public’s access to services - especially for those with compromised immune systems or who care for vulnerable family members.

The Nineteenth Order of the City Council of the City of Denton was adopted on Jan. 25, 2022, and was rescinded on March 1. The Nineteenth Order required masks for all employees, contractors, and visitors when on the premises of a building, office, or recreation center owned or operated by the City of Denton. 

The mask requirements were included in the Orders of Council related to the Declaration of Local Disaster since the Thirteenth Order of Council was adopted on Aug. 12, 2021, and each subsequent Order has included mask requirements for city employees in public buildings.

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