The announcement that Gov. Greg Abbott had tested affirmative for the coronavirus came amid a pitched conflict implicit nationalist wellness measures successful schools and a caller surge successful hospitalizations.
Aug. 18, 2021Updated 10:17 p.m. ET
HOUSTON — In caller days, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas commemorated the day of India’s independency with a crowd successful his office. He mingled with hundreds of Republican supporters astatine a packed run event. He posed with the brother of the famed guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Photographs from the events amusement that fewer of those who met with the politician wore masks, and neither did Mr. Abbott, who has prohibited section governments from mandating them.
So erstwhile Mr. Abbott tested affirmative for the coronavirus this week, Texans began questioning the circumstances that whitethorn person led to his corruption and the efforts to place those who whitethorn person been successful adjacent interaction with the governor, who was afloat vaccinated.
At slightest 10 different sitting governors — 4 Democrats and six Republicans — have contracted the virus since the pandemic began, but Mr. Abbott’s diagnosis landed successful the mediate of a pitched conflict betwixt the politician and his largest cities implicit nationalist wellness measures successful schools and arsenic Covid-19 patients are again packing hospitals.
In its announcement connected Tuesday, Mr. Abbott’s bureau said the governor, 63, is tested regular and began receiving monoclonal antibody attraction aft his affirmative result. The attraction is utilized to assistance forestall hospitalization and is usually reserved for those who person compromised immune systems oregon different underlying conditions, oregon those older than 65.
Mr. Abbott’s property unsocial would spot him astatine greater hazard for progression to terrible Covid-19, said Dr. Jessica Justman, an infectious-disease specializer and epidemiology prof astatine Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. That Mr. Abbott is paralyzed from the waist down — helium was injured by a falling histrion successful 1984 and uses a wheelchair — adds aesculapian complexity due to the fact that it increases the hazard of different infections, she added.
Mr. Abbott’s aides declined to elaborate further connected his condition, but to accidental that monoclonal antibody attraction indispensable beryllium approved by a doctor. The politician received his archetypal vaccine dose successful December.
His aides besides would not supply Mr. Abbott’s docket oregon picture his activities successful caller days. Hours earlier his affirmative test, however, Mr. Abbott spoke earlier a assemblage of respective 100 radical successful a tiny play and status assemblage northbound of Dallas called Heritage Ranch. The politician could beryllium seen successful images posted by his run speaking connected a signifier and shaking hands with members of the section Republican club.
It was not instantly wide what efforts had been made to place and quarantine those who were successful adjacent interaction with the governor. His bureau referred questions backmost to its connection connected Tuesday, which said each of Mr. Abbott’s adjacent contacts “today” had been notified.
Collin County, wherever the lawsuit took place, does not behaviour its ain interaction tracing, a region spokesperson said, relying alternatively connected the authorities wellness department, which did not respond to a database of questions astir its efforts to find adjacent contacts of Mr. Abbott.
An representation posted connected Monday to Mr. Abbott’s idiosyncratic Twitter relationship showed him posing with Jimmie Vaughan, a well-known blues stone guitarist based successful Texas whose member died successful 1990. Shortly aft Mr. Abbott announced his affirmative test, Mr. Vaughan said successful a connection that he had tested negative.
On Friday, the politician met successful his bureau with astatine slightest 18 people — “friends from the Indian American assemblage present successful the authorities of Texas” — to commemorate the day of India’s independence. Only 1 disguise could beryllium seen.
But it was images of the lawsuit successful Collin County connected Monday nighttime that drew the astir attention.
That the politician had been astatine a ample and astir wholly mask-less lawsuit a time earlier his affirmative trial dramatized the mostly two-track acquisition of the microorganism successful Texas — and underscored the politically charged quality of immoderate response.
Collin County, erstwhile reliably conservative, has go hotly contested by Democrats and is seen by galore governmental analysts successful Texas arsenic a bellwether for the state. Democratic candidates and activists believed they could flip the region successful 2020 but came up short. Mr. Trump won the region by much than 4 percent points.
Energizing Republican voters successful the region is important for the party, and staying successful interaction with his basal is important for Mr. Abbott, who is facing challenges successful the Republican superior adjacent twelvemonth from respective candidates who spot him arsenic susceptible connected the right.
Understand the State of Vaccine and Mask Mandates successful the U.S.
- Mask rules. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention successful July recommended that each Americans, careless of vaccination status, deterioration masks successful indoor nationalist places wrong areas experiencing outbreaks, a reversal of the guidance it offered successful May. See wherever the C.D.C. guidance would apply, and wherever states person instituted their ain disguise policies. The conflict implicit masks has go contentious successful immoderate states, with immoderate local leaders defying authorities bans.
- Vaccine rules . . . and businesses. Private companies are increasingly mandating coronavirus vaccines for employees, with varying approaches. Such mandates are legally allowed and person been upheld successful tribunal challenges.
- College and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities are requiring students to beryllium vaccinated against Covid-19. Almost each are successful states that voted for President Biden.
- Schools. On Aug. 11, California announced that it would necessitate teachers and unit of some nationalist and backstage schools to beryllium vaccinated or look regular testing, the archetypal authorities successful the federation to bash so. A survey released successful August recovered that galore American parents of school-age children are opposed to mandated vaccines for students, but were more supportive of disguise mandates for students, teachers and unit members who bash not person their shots.
- Hospitals and aesculapian centers. Many hospitals and large wellness systems are requiring employees to get a Covid-19 vaccine, citing rising caseloads fueled by the Delta variant and stubbornly debased vaccination rates successful their communities, adjacent wrong their enactment force.
- New York. On Aug. 3, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York announced that impervious of vaccination would beryllium required of workers and customers for indoor dining, gyms, performances and different indoor situations, becoming the archetypal U.S. metropolis to necessitate vaccines for a wide scope of activities. City infirmary workers must besides get a vaccine oregon beryllium subjected to play testing. Similar rules are successful spot for New York State employees.
- At the national level. The Pentagon announced that it would question to marque coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for the country’s 1.3 cardinal active-duty troops “no later” than the mediate of September. President Biden announced that all civilian national employees would person to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or taxable to regular testing, societal distancing, disguise requirements and restrictions connected astir travel.
Mr. Abbott’s effect past twelvemonth to the coronavirus, measures that included concern restrictions and a disguise mandate, angered immoderate Republicans and helped spark a revolt wrong the authorities party. Allen West, the erstwhile Florida congressman, was elevated to the party’s apical station past summertime and has since discontinue the presumption to situation Mr. Abbott.
But arsenic coronavirus hospitalizations person again surged successful the state, nearing past year’s peaks, Mr. Abbott has resisted calls for caller mandates. He besides has banned section elected officials from imposing disguise oregon vaccine requirements. After leaders successful respective ample cities, including Dallas, San Antonio and Houston, bucked the bid and went up with disguise mandates, the politician took them to court. The Texas Supreme Court is currently weighing the issue.
In spot of mandates, the politician has alternatively urged Texans — whose rate of vaccination lags the nationalist average — to get vaccinated voluntarily. As intensive attraction units go progressively filled, helium has asked hospitals to voluntarily postpone elective procedures and has expanded the usage of the monoclonal antibody attraction helium is present receiving. The authorities wellness section besides has requested 5 mortuary trailers from the national authorities to beryllium deployed arsenic needed, though nary had been requested by cities oregon counties arsenic of Tuesday.
In a short video connection astir his affirmative test, Mr. Abbott pointed to his ain vaccination to explicate wherefore helium did not consciousness sick. “I person received the Covid-19 vaccine and that whitethorn beryllium 1 crushed wherefore I’m truly not feeling immoderate symptoms close now,” helium said from a balcony successful the Governor’s Mansion overlooking the State Capitol.
But his treatment, and the deficiency of accusation astir it, raised questions adjacent among immoderate doctors. “It’s hard to portion it unneurotic from the nationalist information,” said Dr. Peter J. Hotez, a prof astatine Baylor College of Medicine successful Houston and a vaccine expert.
The usage of monoclonal antibodies earlier immoderate symptoms make is not unusual, though, said Dr. Aruna Subramanian, an infectious-disease doc astatine Stanford Medicine. “It is truly meant for radical who are not yet successful the infirmary to forestall hospitalization,” she said. “The earlier you get it, the better.”
But, she added, the level of investigating and attraction received by Mr. Abbott is not typical. “This should beryllium each the much crushed for radical to get vaccinated, and deterioration masks and instrumentality precautions,” she said. “Because they’re not going to get the attraction he’s getting.”