As COVID cases rise, Texas Republicans cheer on the courts halting mandates

by | Jan 4, 2022 | Coronavirus, Policy

Ken Paxton, who is still under indictment for felony securities fraud and is under investigation by the FBI for a separate incident, ringed in the New Year the only way he knows how: by cheering on the spread of COVID-19. Specifically, the attorney general celebrated what he would deem a “legal win” when a judge in North Texas blocked a vaccine and mask mandate for the Head Start Program on Friday.

The ruling from U.S. District District Court Judge James Wesley Hendrix, who is a Trump appointee, is a temporary injunction against The Department of Health and Human Services, which was trying to implement a mask and vaccine requirement for the nation’s Head Start Program. Head Start works with students from low-income backgrounds to enhance early childhood education.

Lubbock ISD filed the injunction alongside Paxton and the state of Texas. The superintendent of Lubbock ISD, Kathy Rollo, told Judge Hendrix that it would be too difficult to enforce a mask requirement for students younger than five. She also said that a vaccine requirement for staff members would create “inequity in staff expectations.”

The temporary injunction from Judge Hendrix only applies to the state of Texas. Lubbock ISD and Paxton were attempting to reach a national halt to the Head Start mandates.

Crowing about recent court “wins” against mask and vaccine mandates has been a constant theme for Paxton, as well Governor Greg Abbott. There are multiple lawsuits from Texas on a myriad of challenges to measures that are meant to stop the spread of COVID-19. Despite Abbott’s insistence that the federal government has no business in state health affairs, he recently asked FEMA for more support with monoclonal antibody allocations.

Many public health officials in Texas are raising the alarm about the rise of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Currently, there are over 7,000 Texas that are hospitalized with COVID-19. The number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 has also increased to 279.

On Monday afternoon, Dan Patrick’s office disclosed that he was diagnosed with COVID-19 and in quarantine though they did not specify when he received the diagnosis.

Photo: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images

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A longtime writer and journalist, Jessica was thrilled to join the Texas Signal where she could utilize her unique perspective on politics and culture. As the Features and Opinion Editor, she is responsible for coordinating editorials and segments from diverse authors. She is also the host of the podcast the Tex Mix, as well as the co-host for the weekly SignalCast. Jessica attended Harvard College, is a onetime fitness blogger, and has now transitioned to recreational runner (for which her joints are thankful).

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