Aug 17, 2021
Already under fire for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic--in addition to recent attacks on voting rights and immigrants--Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday, provoking fresh criticism of his anti-public health policies.
"Our governor has been working to keep masks out of schools harder than he has worked to keep guns out of schools."
--Marked by Covid
Abbott's communications director, Mark Miner, said in a statement that the governor "will isolate in the Governor's Mansion and continue to test daily," adding that he "is receiving Regeneron's monoclonal antibody treatment."
"Gov. Abbott is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, in good health, and currently experiencing no symptoms. Everyone that the governor has been in close contact with today has been notified," Miner said, noting that Abbott's wife tested negative.
The GOP leader's diagnosis comes as Texas hospitals are overwhelmed by a surge in cases--largely driven by low vaccinations levels and the highly contagious Delta variant--and amid legal battles over Abbott's July executive order (pdf) banning local governments and school districts from imposing mask and vaccine mandates, despite concerns about the safety of in-person learning.
The academic year has hardly started and multiple Texas school districts have had to shut down their campuses due to outbreaks. Meanwhile, as Common Dreams reported over the weekend, with Americans under age 12 still not authorized to receive any vaccines against Covid-19, child hospitalizations for the illness in the U.S. hit an all-time high.
\u201cGov. Abbott, who wants my under-12 unvaccinated kids to go to school in a maskless setting, not only has COVID. \n\nHe's getting "Regeneron's monoclonal antibody treatment."\n\nSO \u2014 will he promise to provide this to EVERY STUDENT & WORKER who contracts COVID because of his policies?\u201d— Mike Siegel (@Mike Siegel) 1629236257
Critics of the governor highlighted the healthcare he is receiving, including the antibody treatment that former President Donald Trump was given when he contracted Covid-19 last year.
MSNBC and Peacock host Mehdi Hasan tweeted Tuesday that "like Trump, Abbott will have access to the best healthcare, the best doctors, the best treatments, should he get symptoms."
"The kids who he refuses to protect from Covid in his state's schools?" Hasan added. "Not so much."
Jessica Cisneros, a progressive primary challenger to Democratic Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar, who represents the state's 28th Congressional District, declared that "all Texans deserve the healthcare Gov. Abbott is receiving."
In a lengthy statement about Abbott's infection, the grassroots group Marked by Covid asked, "Why is his life worth more than our parents'--who died from Covid in Texas--or the lives of our children, being forced into schools unprotected?"
The statement said in part:
Abbott has been using at least two safety measures not available to our kids--vaccination and daily testing of himself and those around him--and has still been infected. While he is sick, he will remain in his home, continue to receive a paycheck, test daily, and get the best treatment possible (Regeneron's monoclonal antibody treatment), despite reportedly being asymptomatic.
None of these safety measures are available to most Texas families, including the children that Abbott insists must attend schools with maskless peers, without the benefits of vaccination, top-notch medical care, or sufficient paid leave for their families or teachers, putting their health, their families' health, and their financial stability at risk.
Our governor has been working to keep masks out of schools harder than he has worked to keep guns out of schools. In his relentless and cruel pursuit of controlling mandates in the name of bodily autonomy he himself contracted Covid and is using every resource available to HIM, but refuses to allow local governments to use their own resources to help save lives.
"Why is the governor receiving Cadillac care crafted by the same science that he refutes," the group asked, "while the rest of us suffer, hope, pray, and write letters?"
NBC Newsreported Tuesday that while the governor's office did not respond to a request for comment, two unnamed sources said that "Abbott has told people he received a third booster dose of a vaccine."
The outlet pointed out that "except for people with compromised immune systems, booster shots have not been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, although the Biden administration is expected to announce a program to administer them soon."
\u201cWhile Texas kids are uninsured, food insecure, housing insecure, energy insecure and expected to go into mask-optional classrooms, our governor injects himself with expensive fetal cell treatments and holes up in his mansion. \n\nI'm asking for prayers for my thoughts.\u201d— Candace Valenzuela (@Candace Valenzuela) 1629244377
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) shared NBC's report on Twitter, writing that Abbott "has the best medical care in Texas and already received a third booster shot."
"I wish him a swift recovery," the congressman said. "I hope Abbott reverses course and allows local leaders and schools to protect Texans, particularly young children at serious risk."
Sawyer Hackett, executive director of People First Future--a political action committee launched by former Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro, the congressman's twin--also noted the reported third dose.
\u201cFirst, Greg Abbott received a third booster dose of the vaccine, something not yet available to the public.\n\nNow he\u2019s receiving monoclonal antibody treatment, something the FDA has only authorized for those with \u201chigh risk for progression to severe COVID-19.\u201d\n\nMust be nice.\u201d— Sawyer Hackett (@Sawyer Hackett) 1629237144
Julian Castro, and others including Hackett, circulated footage of a GOP fundraiser Abbott attended maskless on Monday.
"Abbott has put his own Republican primary politics before the public health since day one," Julian Castro tweeted alongside a video of the event. "I hope he recovers quickly. I also hope he will act more responsibly on behalf of Texas children and families."
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