But many customers at the Randalls store in suburban Houston were not wearing them, she noted, even as coronavirus cases began to increase in early June. Gov. Greg Abbott, who had pushed for reopening businesses in Texas, refused to make masks mandatory and blocked local authorities from enforcing mask requirements.
Ms Roberts, 35, autistic and living with her parents, first fell ill. Then her father, Paul, and her mother, Sheryl, were hospitalized. While no one can be sure how Elaine Roberts got infected, her older sister Sidra Roman blamed grocery customers who she said put her family at risk.
“Wearing a piece of fabric is a bit uncomfortable,” she says. “It’s a lot less uncomfortable than the ventilators, the dialysis lines, all those things that must have happened to my dad. And it is not necessarily you who are going to get sick and hurt.
What happened to the Roberts is in many ways the story of Texas, one of the country’s coronavirus hotspots. For weeks, politicians were divided over keeping the economy open, citizens were polarized over wearing masks, and doctors warned that reckless behavior could endanger others.
In southeast Texas, communities already struck by the pandemic faced a no less frightening new enemy on Saturday, as Hurricane Hanna hit the coast with heavy rains and winds expected to reach 110 miles per hour.
Hanna’s eye made landfall on Padre Island, about 60 miles north of the US-Mexico border, around 5 p.m. Saturday, with winds of 90 mph. power outages.
Many towns and counties on the way to Hanna have seen a sudden spike in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations.