Abbott is criticized for his ban on mask mandates as cases soar in Texas.
The dilemma seemed familiar. A prominent and ambitious Red State governor, who had taken a strong stand against mask warrants and other aggressive measures to combat the spread of the virus, suddenly found himself on the defensive as cases and hospitalizations were skyrocketing in his state.
First it was Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida. Now it is Texas Governor Greg Abbott who comes under fierce criticism as intensive care beds fell to single digits in Austin and health officials in San Antonio called his level of risk a ‘a notch below the critical level. But Mr Abbott remains steadfast in his refusal to enact a statewide mandate as he bars local officials from doing so in their own communities.
Fear and frustration arise as schools prepare to reopen in the country’s second most populous state, raising fears of further spread of the virus.
“The governor has shown a complete disregard for life and safety in defiance of clear medical directives and risks the safety of our children and the recovery of our economy,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg of San Antonio.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for Mr Abbott said he was focusing on personal responsibility, but she did not address details of the state’s Covid crisis.
“Governor Abbott has been clear that we must rely on personal responsibility, not government mandates,” the statement said. “Every Texan has the right to choose for himself and his children whether he will wear masks, open his business or be vaccinated.”
The statement also said that while all eligible Texans were asked to be vaccinated, the vaccine itself “will always remain voluntary and never forced in Texas.”
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