“Full resurgence,” “silent spreaders”: Abbott’s failed Covid response put to the test

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Despite his bombastic public proclamations that Texas will enforce no new COVID-19 restrictions, Governor Greg Abbott was greeted by unwelcome news from a building he hopes to one day occupy last week. 

In a new report issued by the White House citing a “full resurgence” of the coronavirus in the state, White House officials called on Texas to do more to stop the spread, including increasing proactive COVID-19 testing for hospital workers and teachers to identify so-called “silent spreaders,” and quell the virus’ transmission. 

The report also called on Texas to enforce new guidelines on indoor gatherings. Many Texas Republicans scoffed at proposed restrictions on Thanksgiving gatherings in other states. The ability of Texans to do everything from congregating at churches to attending high school football games became a hot-button issue. 

Texas has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, both over the summer and during this recent resurgence. Texas was the first state to record over one million infections of the virus and has lost nearly 22,000 lives to the coronavirus. 

The situation has grown so dire in some parts of the state, such as El Paso, that incarcerated Texans have been deployed to assist local morgues in processing the remains of deceased COVID-19 patients, many of whom were moved into refrigerated morgue trucks sent to help manage the demands on local facilities. 

As of this writing, an estimated 186,678 Texans are fighting active cases on COVID-19, more than 37,000 of those cases in El Paso County alone. For weeks, Texas leads the nation in total infections, registering more infections than the states of New York and Georgia combined, and as many cases as the 20 states with the lowest number of infections combined. 

With holiday events both behind and ahead of us on the calendar, holiday shopping and the continued services offered at bars and restaurants across the state, Abbott has created a leadership vacuum Texans desperately need to fill. While Abbott touted the state’s ability to rapidly deploy forthcoming COVID-19 vaccines in a matter of days, those ambitions are out of step with his inability to better manage the pandemic from day one.

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

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