Texas’s Abbott, Foe of Masking, Has Breakthrough Covid-19 Case
(Bloomberg) -- Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has used executive orders and court rulings to combat mask mandates and other anti-pandemic measures, has tested positive for a breakthrough case of Covid-19.
The Republican leader of the second-largest U.S. state is isolating in the governor’s mansion in Austin and receiving monoclonal antibody treatment, according to a statement from his office on Tuesday.
Abbott, 63, already was fully vaccinated and so far has been asymptomatic. The diagnosis comes one day after the Texas Supreme Court temporarily halted local mask mandates in the Dallas and San Antonio areas that Abbott said violated his ban on such measures.
Five months after Abbott reopened the Texas economy and lifted the last anti-pandemic restrictions, caseloads and hospitalizations are surging, straining medical facilities and prompting heated debates among educators and parents as the new school year begins.
When Abbott announced plans in March to lift the mask mandate, President Joe Biden criticized it as “Neanderthal thinking” and a “big mistake.” Since then, daily new-case counts have surged five-fold and hospitalizations are on pace to soon break the peak reached in January, when the state’s outbreak was at its worst.
Less than an hour before the governor’s diagnosis was disclosed, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner warned that the positive-test rate in the fourth-largest U.S. city has surged to almost 20%. Turner, a Democrat who has repeatedly clashed with Abbott over how to deal with the virus, said about 50% of eligible Houstonians are fully vaccinated.
Also on Tuesday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said residents who get the first dose some time this month will receive $100. Hidalgo, a Democrat, is the highest-ranking county official in the area that includes Houston, and also a frequent Abbott detractor.
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