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People wearing masks inside the Texas state Capitol building in Austin on March 10. Photo: Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images

Officials in Austin and Travis County, Texas, can continue to enforce their mask mandates for at least two more weeks after a district judge on Friday refused to grant the state an emergency temporary restraining order, NBC affiliate KXAN reports.

Why it matters: The decision keeps the mandate in place through the spring breaks of many schools in the Austin area.

Context: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the city on Thursday, claiming the city's leadership was defying an order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott last week that rescinded a statewide mask mandate.

  • The suit alleges the governor's order "preempts more restrictive local emergency orders."
  • The executive order, which took effect Wednesday, does allow local governments to enforce mask mandates in regions where coronavirus hospitalizations rise above 15% of bed capacity for seven consecutive days.

What she's saying: "People have been wearing masks for a year. I don't know that two more weeks is going to matter one way or the other," Judge Lora Livingston said during a Friday hearing, according to the Austin-American Statesman

Yes, but: The action is not a final ruling. Livingston could still side with the state after hearing more arguments.

  • The judge scheduled another hearing for March 26, according to KXAN.

Go deeper

Trump blasts “wacky” GOP Sen. Cassidy after “Axios on HBO” interview

Former President Trump on Monday blasted Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) after he told "Axios on HBO" that he is not sure Trump could win the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Driving the news: When told that Trump could be expected to win the nomination, Cassidy jumped in saying: "I don't know that."

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's carbon emissions-cutting pledge faces tough climb

Image from the Rhodium Group study "Pathways to Paris." Courtesy of the Rhodium Group.

The verdict is in: President Biden's U.S. emissions-cutting pledge isn't a fantasy, but the path to meeting it is very difficult and relies on forces outside of White House control.

Driving the news: The Rhodium Group just released an analysis of policy combinations that could close the gap between the current U.S. trajectory and Biden's vow under the Paris Agreement to cut emissions in half by 2030.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Johnson & Johnson pulls the trigger on Texas talc gambit

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It's official: Johnson & Johnson has invoked a Texas legal loophole in an attempt to protect the bulk of its corporate assets from claims that its baby powder caused ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.

Why it matters: It's the biggest and boldest invocation yet of the so-called Texas two-step defense. But it's still not clear whether it's going to work.