Is Abbott Responsible for Texas Trumping New York in COVID Deaths?

Ash Jurberg
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When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the United States, New York City was the hardest hit. As the rest of us in Texas watched on, NYC saw a rise in COVID cases, eventually leading to the city being shut down and put in lockdown.

At one stage, New York had 29,000 more COVID-19 deaths than Texas. This week, tragically, Texas overtook New York for deaths. Since last summer, 54% more Texans have succumbed to the deadly virus than New Yorkers.

The question must be asked why Texas has suffered so many deaths in the last 12 months. And is Texas Governor Greg Abbott to blame?

One person who thinks he might be is Spencer Fox, associate director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. He has been critical of Texas's strategy.

"They (New York) enacted really strong, precautionary measures that overall are well based in the available science. It seems that many of the Texas policies were put in place to try and prevent health care collapse rather than trying to prevent transmission." Spencer Fox, associate director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium

Despite the increase in COVID-19 cases, pushing pressure on Texas hospitals, Governor Abbott has remained firm in not reintroducing mask mandates or restrictions.

Everyone has had more than a year to master all of the same strategies that they can choose of what’s best for them and their family members. We’re past the time of government mandates. We’re into the time for personal responsibility.” Texas Governor Greg Abbott

It reinforces his prior directive prohibiting local officials from requiring face masks, despite growing calls from city leaders for greater flexibility to reverse the renewed spread of Covid.

The Washington Post is extremely critical of Governor Abbott and other Republican leaders that are not bringing back tougher measures saying they are "encouraging life-threatening conduct for the sake of currying favor with the unhinged radical right. As a result, millions of Americans will refuse to get lifesaving shots or decline to wear masks, resulting in entirely preventable deaths and serious illnesses."

City officials such as Austin Mayor Steve Adler are urging Abbott to bring back masks- at least for schools.

The Texas State Teachers Association asked Governor Abbott to reconsider his position on masks in schools. One area of concern is that students under 12 remain ineligible for a vaccine.

If Gov. Abbott really cares about the health and safety of Texas students, educators and their communities, he will give local school officials and health experts the option of requiring masks in their schools,” TSTA president Ovidia Molina

As Texas hospitals' cases and tragic deaths continue to rise, it seems that Governor Abbott may need to make some changes as Texas hospitals are under enormous pressure.

Readers, what do you think? Should masks be enforced? Do more restrictions need to be in place? Or do you believe Governor Abbott is correct, and it is now up to individuals to be personally responsible?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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San Antonio, TX

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