Record Pediatric Hospitalizations, Nation’s Highest Worker Burnout, Galveston Co’s First COVID Death Below 10 Years Of Age — Abbott’s Health Care Policies Are Taking Their Toll

AUSTIN, Texas — In recent weeks, Gov. Greg Abbott’s refusal to protect the health and safety of Texans has come under increasing scrutiny — with the U.S. Justice Department stepping in over Abbott’s illegal abortion ban, and President Biden announcing new vaccine requirements to protect workers from cavalier COVID policies. These are welcome steps towards keeping Texans safe in the face of the callous actions of Republican officials — yet tragically, Abbott’s anti-health policies are taking a greater and greater toll on Texas communities.

Earlier this week, the number of Texas kids hospitalized with COVID-19 hit an all-time high. High rates of Texas kids getting sick with COVID can be traced directly to Abbott’s refusal to allow school districts and municipalities to take basic precautions like requiring masks — even given the rise of the delta variant, which is significantly more contagious and more dangerous to kids than the original strain of COVID-19. Because no vaccine is available yet for kids under 12, Abbott’s choice to clear the way for COVID to sweep through Texas communities is putting kids at serious risk. Texans are facing the tragic consequences of Abbott’s actions every day. This week, Galveston County logged its own tragic milestone in this regard — the first COVID-related death of a child under 10.

However, Abbott’s refusal to prioritize Texans’ health and safety extends far beyond his mismanagement of the pandemic. Even during the pandemic, Abbott and Texas Republicans have refused to expand Medicaid across Texas — leaving billions of dollars in federal health care funding on the table, and allowing nearly a million currently-uninsured Texans who would become eligible under Medicaid expansion to instead continue going without affordable health care. Texas is the most uninsured state in the country, and the lack of access to affordable health care is contributing to poor health and wellness outcomes in workers. Alongside Florida, Texas is home to the highest rates of worker burnout in the country.

Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement:

“This week, Texans faced a new heartbreaking tragedy out of the pandemic, with the loss of the youngest child yet from COVID-19 in Galveston County. My heart goes out to her family, and to the far too many Texans grieving the deaths of loved ones lost to this pandemic. We continue to hold you close in our thoughts.

“Every day, new numbers come out showing the dire situation facing working families all across Texas. We are the state with the highest rate of uninsured people in the country, and some of the highest rates of worker burnout — yet rather than responding to the urgent issues Texans are facing, our Republican state leaders are attacking working people every chance they get.

“Texans don’t want Abbott’s illegal abortion ban, we don’t want Abbott’s bill blocking workers from getting water breaks, and we don’t want Abbott’s reckless pandemic policies that are wreaking havoc on our communities. You know what Texans want? We want access to be able to pay for health care and still make rent. We want a power grid that doesn’t fail us just when we need our heat or our AC most. And we want to be able to send our kids to school and know that our government is doing everything it can to keep them safe. The only way to make that happen is to defeat Greg Abbott and elect Texas Democrats who will put people first. And from now until November 2022, we will be fighting every single day to make that happen.”