Tuesday afternoon was another chaotic moment in Texas politics when the Governor’s office informed the public that Greg Abbott tested positive for COVID-19. But in the aftermath of that announcement and the revelations about all the precautions Abbott gets to utilize with COVID-19, it’s a stark reminder that while he may be overseeing a dangerously anti-science campaign against the deadly virus – for himself it’s an entirely different game.
When the governor announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19, he emphasized that he was experiencing no symptoms but was still on the Regeneron monoclonal antibody treatment. That treatment is still in clinical trials and was only approved for emergency use by the FDA in November.
If Regeneron sounds familiar that’s because it’s the same treatment that Donald Trump used after he contracted COVID-19 for his case that was reportedly quite severe. On August 13, the governor announced that Texas would be opening nine infusion centers throughout Texas that were equipped with Regeneron monoclonal antibodies. Per the governor’s office the infusion centers, “will treat COVID-19 patients who do not need hospitalization with therapeutic drugs that can prevent their condition from worsening and requiring hospital care.”
While theoretically the Regeneron treatment is available for all Texans, in reality the supply is still very limited. But for the governor of Texas, it’s readily available. But that’s not the only additional health perk the governor received.
On Tuesday NBC News reported that two sources had informed them that Abbott had very recently received a third booster shot from one of the mRNA vaccines. It has only been a few days since the Biden administration announced that a third booster shot would be available and recommended for those eight months after their second dose.
While everybody hopes the governor has a speedy recovery, it would be nice if he allowed Texans to exercise health precautions for this deadly virus that he himself is benefiting from. As the COVID-19 pandemic’s fourth wave continues to cripple Texas thanks to the highly contagious Delta variant, Abbott has done everything in his power to keep communities and families less safe. The executive order he signed in May prohibited any local leader or ISD from being able to issue any public health or safety measures. And he has doubled down on that restriction.
Despite Abbott’s order, dozens of school districts have defied it and required masks on campus. Counties are also following suit by ignoring the order and mandating masks. That has now prompted Attorney General Ken Paxton to wage a legal war against counties and school districts. The Republicans in this state essentially forced Paris ISD, located in a deeply red northeast corner of Texas, to find a loophole through the school dress code to require masks.
Abbott’s actions in restricting local orders for COVID-19 have had dire consequences. Over 500 children are currently hospitalized throughout the state with COVID-19. In many areas, including north Texas, there are no more pediatric ICUS. According to The Texas Tribune, 75 hospitals in Texas are reporting no ICU beds for any patients.
As Abbott continues to isolate and receive his Regeneron treatment, a majority of Texans who contract COVID-19 will not be so lucky. The night before he tested positive for COVID-19, Abbott was in a large densely packed room in Collin County with nary a mask in sight. If anybody in that audience does contract a serious case of COVID, or even requires medical attention for another emergency, they might be in for a dicey outlook: Collin County is down to just 17 ICU beds.
We are in the midst of a deadly pandemic, and while the governor has a plethora of medical options at his disposal, most Texans do not. Which is all the more reason to allow local leaders and ISDs to keep their health and safety requirements.
Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call