Gov. Abbott told to ‘Get Out of the Way’ As Texas and Florida Now Account for a Third of All New U.S. COVID Cases In Past Week

AUSTIN, Texas — Governor Abbott has been stalling our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by refusing to lead on health precautions that could reduce further spread of the disease and save lives.

Just as children and parents were getting ready to begin the school year through in-person learning, Gov. Abbott issued a ban on all mask requirements for public schools and local governments even as new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are surging across the state from the spread of the more contagious and deadlier delta variant.

Abbott’s ban is a direct contradiction to what the CDC and health experts recommend. CDC guidelines currently recommend that even fully vaccinated people continue to wear masks while indoors and when in large groups due to a risk of breakthrough infections and further spread to vulnerable populations. There is no vaccine approved yet for children, which places both their health and their families’ wellbeing at high risk.

Since last week, Texas has seen an overall increase of 92% in new infections, a 49% increase in hospitalizations, and a 15% increase in deaths due to COVID-19. Texas and Florida alone account for one in three of all new infections in the United States in the past week. Only 44% of Texans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Even Republican Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson recently stated he regretted signing into a law a mandate outlawing mask requirements in schools.

President Biden called out Governor Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis yesterday in a press conference, saying: “If you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.”

Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement:

“Governor Abbott’s ban on these critical safety precautions is a declaration of war on public health. As the casualties continue to rise, he is still choosing to risk the lives of children and countless others to gain favor with a right-wing base too selfish and power-hungry to grasp the consequences of their irresponsible actions. We can no longer allow him to make this pandemic a partisan issue. Abbott’s failed leadership accounts for more deaths than any other Texas governor in modern history. The best thing he can do for the people of Texas is to rescind his order banning mask mandates in schools and stay out of the way and let local leaders and health experts do their jobs.

“Communities throughout Texas and state Democratic leaders recognize this failed leadership and are working together to create safety measures to help control this pandemic and protect our citizens. This begins with getting vaccinated and following CDC guidelines so that we can safely progress to better days.”