HOUSTON — In latest days, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas commemorated the anniversary of India’s independence with a crowd in his workplace. He mingled with a whole bunch of Republican supporters at a packed marketing campaign occasion. He posed with the brother of the famed guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Images from the occasions present that few of those that met with the governor wore masks, and neither did Mr. Abbott, who has prohibited native governments from mandating them.
So when Mr. Abbott examined optimistic for the coronavirus this week, Texans started questioning the circumstances which will have led to his an infection and the efforts to determine those that might have been in shut contact with the governor, who was absolutely vaccinated.
No less than 10 different sitting governors — 4 Democrats and 6 Republicans — have contracted the virus for the reason that pandemic started, however Mr. Abbott’s analysis landed in the course of a pitched battle between the governor and his largest cities over public well being measures in colleges and as Covid-19 sufferers are once more packing hospitals.
In its announcement on Tuesday, Mr. Abbott’s workplace stated the governor, 63, is examined day by day and commenced receiving monoclonal antibody therapy after his optimistic outcome. The therapy is used to assist stop hospitalization and is often reserved for many who have compromised immune techniques or different underlying circumstances, or these older than 65.
Mr. Abbott’s age alone would place him at higher danger for development to extreme Covid-19, stated Dr. Jessica Justman, an infectious-disease specialist and epidemiology professor at Columbia College’s Mailman College of Public Well being. That Mr. Abbott is paralyzed from the waist down — he was injured by a falling tree in 1984 and makes use of a wheelchair — provides medical complexity as a result of it will increase the chance of different infections, she added.
Mr. Abbott’s aides declined to elaborate additional on his situation, besides to say that monoclonal antibody therapy should be accredited by a physician. The governor obtained his first vaccine dose in December.
His aides additionally wouldn’t present Mr. Abbott’s schedule or describe his actions in latest days. Hours earlier than his optimistic take a look at, nevertheless, Mr. Abbott spoke earlier than a crowd of a number of hundred folks in a small golf and retirement neighborhood north of Dallas known as Heritage Ranch. The governor might be seen in pictures posted by his marketing campaign talking on a stage and shaking fingers with members of the native Republican membership.
It was not instantly clear what efforts had been made to determine and quarantine those that have been in shut contact with the governor. His workplace referred questions again to its assertion on Tuesday, which stated all of Mr. Abbott’s shut contacts “right this moment” had been notified.
Collin County, the place the occasion came about, doesn’t conduct its personal contact tracing, a county spokesman stated, relying as an alternative on the state well being division, which didn’t reply to an inventory of questions on its efforts to find shut contacts of Mr. Abbott.
A picture posted on Monday to Mr. Abbott’s private Twitter account confirmed him posing with Jimmie Vaughan, a widely known blues rock guitarist based mostly in Texas whose brother died in 1990. Shortly after Mr. Abbott introduced his optimistic take a look at, Mr. Vaughan stated in a press release that he had examined damaging.
On Friday, the governor met in his workplace with no less than 18 folks — “associates from the Indian American neighborhood right here within the state of Texas” — to commemorate the anniversary of India’s independence. Just one masks might be seen.
Nevertheless it was pictures of the occasion in Collin County on Monday night time that drew essentially the most consideration.
That the governor had been at a big and nearly fully mask-less occasion a day earlier than his optimistic take a look at dramatized the largely two-track expertise of the virus in Texas — and underscored the politically charged nature of any response.
Collin County, as soon as reliably conservative, has change into hotly contested by Democrats and is seen by many political analysts in Texas as a bellwether for the state. Democratic candidates and activists believed they may flip the county in 2020 however got here up brief. Mr. Trump gained the county by greater than 4 proportion factors.
Energizing Republican voters within the county is necessary for the celebration, and staying in contact together with his base is necessary for Mr. Abbott, who’s dealing with challenges within the Republican main subsequent yr from a number of candidates who see him as weak on the proper.
Mr. Abbott’s response final yr to the coronavirus, measures that included enterprise restrictions and a masks mandate, angered some Republicans and helped spark a revolt inside the state celebration. Allen West, the previous Florida congressman, was elevated to the celebration’s high publish final summer time and has since give up the place to problem Mr. Abbott.
However as coronavirus hospitalizations have once more surged within the state, nearing final yr’s peaks, Mr. Abbott has resisted calls for brand new mandates. He additionally has banned native elected officers from imposing masks or vaccine necessities. After leaders in a number of massive cities, together with Dallas, San Antonio and Houston, bucked the order and went forward with masks mandates, the governor took them to court docket. The Texas Supreme Court docket is presently weighing the difficulty.
Rather than mandates, the governor has as an alternative urged Texans — whose charge of vaccination lags the nationwide common — to get vaccinated voluntarily. As intensive care items change into more and more stuffed, he has requested hospitals to voluntarily postpone elective procedures and has expanded using the monoclonal antibody therapy he’s now receiving. The state well being division additionally has requested 5 mortuary trailers from the federal authorities to be deployed as wanted, although none had been requested by cities or counties as of Tuesday.
In a brief video message about his optimistic take a look at, Mr. Abbott pointed to his personal vaccination to elucidate why he didn’t really feel sick. “I’ve obtained the Covid-19 vaccine and that could be one purpose why I’m actually not feeling any signs proper now,” he stated from a balcony within the Governor’s Mansion overlooking the State Capitol.
However his therapy, and the lack of understanding about it, raised questions even amongst some docs. “It’s arduous to piece it collectively from the general public info,” stated Dr. Peter J. Hotez, a professor at Baylor School of Medication in Houston and a vaccine skilled.
The usage of monoclonal antibodies earlier than any signs develop will not be uncommon, although, stated Dr. Aruna Subramanian, an infectious-disease physician at Stanford Medication. “It’s actually meant for people who find themselves not but within the hospital to forestall hospitalization,” she stated. “The sooner you get it, the higher.”
However, she added, the extent of testing and therapy obtained by Mr. Abbott will not be typical. “This needs to be all of the extra purpose for folks to get vaccinated, and put on masks and take precautions,” she stated. “As a result of they’re not going to get the therapy he’s getting.”
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