AUSTIN, Texas — With the delta variant spreading rapidly in Texas communities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their guidelines around COVID-19 earlier this week, asking even fully-vaccinated folks to continue to wear masks in many situations and urging Americans to get vaccinated. However, infuriatingly, Texas Republicans responded by stripping local authorities of their power to enforce precautions to keep people safe. With his breaking executive order Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott is banning entities that receive state funds from issuing vaccine requirements — and removing local officials’ ability to put local restrictions in place in response to rising hospitalizations.
Given that Texans fall well below the national vaccination rate with nearly 60% of Texas residents still not fully vaccinated, it is appalling, but predictable, that Texas Republicans continue putting Texans in harm’s way — from continuing to block schools from taking steps to keep people safe, to encouraging Texans to disregard lifesaving guidelines. This week’s Throwback Thursday is a sampling of yet another round of backwards responses to COVID-19 from Texas Republicans, including:
Newly-elected Texas GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi fell right in line with the Texas Republican tradition of advising people to put themselves in danger, telling Texans, “You absolutely should not follow the new CDC recommendations. They are not based in science or good policy. Live your lives.” With Texas logging 10,000 new COVID cases on Wednesday — the most since February — Rinaldi’s advice is mind-bogglingly dangerous. We sincerely hope Texans listen to public health experts instead of the GOP’s latest loose cannon.
Then there’s disgraced Texas Congressman Chip Roy, who threw a tantrum in the U.S. House Wednesday over new House masking requirements. Let us break this down for you, Chip: with a new variant spreading like wildfire through our communities, the CDC is taking steps to keep people safe. We wish Republican politicians would do the same.
Unfortunately, based on the continued callous decisions of failed and flailing Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas communities are poised to once again be left out in the cold. Despite the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) begging for schools to be allowed to issue mask mandates, Abbott is continuing to block school districts from keeping teachers, kids, and families safe. This is one more dangerous and disappointing move from a governor who has refused to take this pandemic seriously from day one — instead watching on while tens of thousands of Texans died and thousands more lost loved ones, lost jobs, and continue to suffer. Despicable.
Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement:
“Since March 2020, more than 53,000 Texans have died from COVID because Greg Abbott and Texas Republicans refused to take this pandemic seriously. They sued cities for trying to keep residents safe, they sold out communities of color, especially in South Texas, and now, they’re refusing to enforce basic public health guidelines. Texas families have spent a year and a half grieving loved ones, fearing for their safety, and grappling with incredibly tough economic times — while our Republican leaders left us to die. Enough is enough.
“Greg Abbott has shown time after time that he does not care about Texans — from throwing us under the bus during the pandemic, to taking a million dollar check from a donor who made billions off the backs of Texans’ suffering during the winter storm. Abbott is only in it for himself, and Texans deserve better. You can bet that Texas Democrats will work every single day from now until November 2022 to defeat Greg Abbott and Texas Republicans to give Texans the strong Democratic leadership they deserve.”