It’s all Fine in Texas

Two stories tell, well, a story about Texas and the pandemic.

Two stories caught my attention this moring:

Via the Texas Tribune: Gov. Greg Abbott asks Texas hospitals to delay nonessential procedures as COVID-19 patients strain capacity

Gov. Greg Abbott announced new moves Monday to fight the coronavirus pandemic as it rages again in Texas, including asking hospitals to again put off certain elective procedures to free up space for COVID-19 patients.

Still, the governor did not back down on his refusal to institute any new statewide restrictions on businesses or to let local governments and schools mandate masks or vaccines.

Note the second paragraph in that excerpt.

Also, from the piece:

Also, via the AP (which is also noted in the Texas Tribune piece): Texas Gov. Abbott seeks out-of-state help against COVID-19

Gov. Greg Abbott appealed for out-of-state help to fight the third wave of COVID-19 in Texas while two more of the state’s largest school districts announced mask mandates in defiance of the governor.

Abbott’s request Monday came as a county-owned hospital in Houston raised tents to accommodate their COVID-19 overflow. Private hospitals in the county already were requiring their staff to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

So, he is willing to ask for some medical procedures to be put on hold, and to ask for outside help, but isn’t willing to engage in mitigation efforts:

The governor is taking action short of lifting his emergency order banning county and local government entities from requiring the wearing of masks and social distancing to lower the COVID-19 risk. Abbott has said repeatedly that Texans have the information and intelligence to make their own decisions on what steps to take to protect their health and the health of those around them.

Someone needs to instruct Governor Abbott on the nature of collective action problems. Further, he needs to understand that symbolic politics can bite a governor good and hard when they come into conflict with a true public health crisis.

Likewise, he might should consult this graph from the WSJ that I wrote about over the weekend (it shows a clear inverse relationship between the level of vaccination and the level of hospitalizations by state:

That much of this could be prevented by masking and vaccinations makes it all quite tragic.

FILED UNDER: Health, US Politics, , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Kathy says:

    Oh, geez! Just ban all hospitals from accepting COVID patients. Anyone who tests positive will be given a supply of zinc, hydroxychloroquine, and Ivermectin. If they don’t get cured, it’s their fault.

    Problem solved.

  2. Sleeping Dog says:

    Gee, I thought that Texans’ attitude is that they can take care of themselves? Isn’t that why they aren’t part of the interstate power grid?

    Maybe Abbott can get assistance from is pal DeSantis.

  3. Gustopher says:

    Gov. Greg Abbott appealed for out-of-state help to fight the third wave of COVID-19 in Texas

    Having the federal government come in with field hospitals and creating a story of “Biden to the rescue” cannot be good politics.

    If you’re going to sacrifice the lives of your constituents to score political points, then at least make the points stick.

  4. Barry says:

    Steve: ” Further, he needs to understand that symbolic politics can bite a governor good and hard when they come into conflict with a true public health crisis.”

    It’s Texas, full of MAGA’s, with other voters suppressed. He doesn’t have to do anything other than shovel money to the rich and bullsh*t to the MAGA’s.

  5. Franklin says:

    “Abbott has said repeatedly that Texans have the information and intelligence to …”

    Let me stop you right there.

  6. CSK says:

    It may be a naive question, but can’t people in Texas see what’s happening to them?

  7. @Barry: To be clear: I am not suggesting an electoral consequence, but rather the fact that symbolic politics (such as banning mask mandates) can have real-world consequences (like overflowing hospitals).

  8. @CSK: Rationalization is a powerful thing (and I am not being glib nor snarky).

  9. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    I know. I hope they wake up—soon.

  10. Kathy says:


    It may be a naive question, but can’t people in Texas see what’s happening to them?

    This is something that’s puzzled me for a while. Can’t Mexicans, Brazilians, Britons, Russians, etc. see what’s happening to them?

    I’d say they can, but choose not to.

  11. Jay L. Gischer says:

    I looked at the numbers in the last governor’s election in TX, and it’s instructive. Abbot won 56-43 (There was a Libertarian). If he lost 5 points on this, which went straight over to the other side, he would still win. 5 points is a lot, and mostly people stay home rather than switch to the other side on that time scale. 10 percent could stay home and he’s still winning.

    He might have been ok if he had stayed away from anti-masking to start with, but how many points does he lose if he caves now? I assume these are all “stay home” losses.

    So that’s his calculus. And frankly, he is probably better equipped to judge that calculus than I am. Still, I think the narrative is shifting among the anti vaxxers and anti maskers…

    Just to be clear, I think this is wrong on many levels. But whether it is wrong for him politically is questionable.

  12. Moosebreath says:

    “Gov. Greg Abbott appealed for out-of-state help to fight the third wave of COVID-19 in Texas”

    We’ve already provided out-of-state help. It’s called a vaccine.

  13. JDM says:

    Meanwhile, in Washington state, “Covid-19 cheaters desperate for a booster shot are trying to game system”.

    Maybe Washington state Governor Inslee should request that Texas and Florida, in an act of Christian charity, donate and release all of their unwanted vaccine doses to Washington state to assuage our insatiable need for vaccines.

  14. Scott says:

    @Jay L. Gischer: Unfortunately, there is not a lot of political talent on the Democratic side. There may be an occasional flash like Beto O’Rourke but it is not back by any organizational or party talent.

  15. Jen says:

    It makes me absolutely furious that he’s asking for out of state help. The answer should be a resounding “may the odds be ever in your favor.”

    He created this mess, he can clean it up. Good luck, Governor. Perhaps the inimitable Sen. Cruz can help you out.

  16. Michael Cain says:


    Having the federal government come in with field hospitals and creating a story of “Biden to the rescue” cannot be good politics.

    Unlikely unless things get much worse. Abbott’s done this before. Texas, last most states, has a statute allowing the governor to request assistance from other states. Most states have statutes allowing their governors to provide such assistance when requested. Recall some weeks back when Abbott declared a border emergency and asked states to provide assistance, and the governor of SD mobilized part of the SD National Guard, and the governor of IA sent a small delegation of state police. Absent an actual physical invasion, or changes in federal law, the President and the rest of the feds have very little ability to move in until asked by the governor.

  17. Raoul says:

    Why help those who won’t help themselves. Abbott’s actions are endangering neighboring states. Those states have an increased risk of susceptibility because of the governor and need those resources to combat the pandemic, so unless he presses for mitigation I would think helping him would jeopardize and endanger those states.

  18. charon says:

    (CNN)A hospital system in Texas is prepping tents for the overflow of patients after a surge in Covid-19 cases filled its hospitals to the verge of capacity.

    Harris Health System in Houston is reporting 1 in 4 patients at its two hospitals have tested positive for Covid-19.
    Ben Taub Hospital’s intensive care unit is at 95% capacity with 27% of utilization by Covid-19 patients and Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, where the tents are being set up, is at 100% ICU utilization with 63% Covid cases, Harris Health spokesperson Bryan McLeod told CNN in an email.
    “They are still in the process of completing set up, and installing IT equipment, etc. There is no pre-determined time for when they will begin to be used, but they want the tented environment to be ready to go in the event they are needed,” McLeod said.

    Texas is open 100%.

    Texans should have the freedom to go where they want without any limits, restrictions, or requirements.

    Today, I signed a law that prohibits any TX business or gov’t entity from requiring vaccine passports or any vaccine information.

  19. charon says:
  20. Jen says:


    Abbott’s actions are endangering neighboring states.

    And, of course, a number of those neighboring states are ALREADY in the same pickle themselves. Arkansas only has 8 ICU beds left in the entire state (as of this morning, that could well have changed already). Missouri is a mess. Things are very bad in Louisiana. New Mexico is showing as a hot spot in a number of counties, and Mississippi is struggling too.

    In fact, numbers are increasing across the country at the same time a lot of health care workers have decided they’ve had enough and are quitting. I can’t imagine too many hospitals will be on board with sending health care workers to fight this fight in another state given the risk that numbers could creep up at any time in their home states.

    What. A. Mess.

    I’m most angry with the ones, like Abbott and DeSantis, who have been posturing and going after headlines on this. DeSantis in particular seems to be laying the groundwork to run for President. It’s appalling.

  21. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jen: Maybe all that Cruz and Abbot really NEED to do is wait this out in Cancun. We’ve already come to the point where the disease will have to “burn itself out” so why not?

  22. Kari Q says:


    but can’t people in Texas see what’s happening to them?

    They see, but they don’t see what you and I see. They see that a) Biden took office, b) there was a surge of people crossing the border, then c) COVID cases spiked. Clearly, to their minds, a caused b caused c. If we stopped people crossing the border, COVID would go away.

    It’s traditional to blame disease on immigrants, humans have always done it. It doesn’t matter that it makes no sense to us, it’s what they believe and they think we’re the ones who don’t see what is happening.

  23. charon says:

    reddit thread venting nurses P.O’d.

    Apparently traveling to TX to care for @$$hole antivaxxers is unappealing compared to normal nursing of normal patients.

  24. CSK says:

    @Kari Q:
    Well, if immigrants were bringing in the disease, wouldn’t that be all the more reason for getting vaxxed and observing all the other precautions?

    Yeah, yeah, I know.

  25. Kari Q says:


    See, there you go with that learning and science, completely ignoring the fact that all COVID cases in Texas are directly caused by one immigrant family who ate at Whataburger.

  26. Kathy says:

    I wonder how many people from other countries are flying to Texas to get vaccinated.

  27. Gustopher says:


    The US is planning to start vaccinating people who cross the border. I wonder if there are those who would like a vaccination, but have no real desire to be in Texas right now, perhaps because of all the covid. We should just run a few vaccination clinics in Mexico, to save them the effort, and save us the paperwork.

  28. Kathy says:


    Why haven’t all immigrant been vaccinated already? It’s not like there’s a shortage anymore, with all the covidiots who don’t want them.

  29. Jax says:

    @Kathy: That’s what I said a couple days ago, it blows me away we have NOT been vaccinating them!! What in the actual fuck?! Alabama just threw away 65,000 doses and we’re NOT putting them in the arms of people who’d probably take them?!

  30. Gavin says:

    Abbott got a million dollars from Texas energy companies due to his failure to require them to insulate their lines – among other things resulting in Texas having an energy grid barely modernized to the standards of 1946.

    Don’t you remember the halcyon days of Deregulation Promises, when we were informed all companies would of course always do what’s right for the customer, and how dare you question them, plebian?

    Republicans are, as always, incapable of actual governance. Feverishly asserting they’re owning fantasy liberals, though, that’s the game!

    I sincerely expect Abbott to reverse Texas public health laws regarding tuberculosis, pertussis, polio, and diphtheria sometime this week once he discovers there’s science [Not a Christian Scientist!] in them thar Vaccines of the Liberal Devil. Will he announce he’s Pro-Witch? Stay tuned!

  31. Teve says:

    @Gavin: Texas Republican Says Vaccines Are ‘Sorcery,’ Claims ‘Parental Rights’ Are More Important Than Science

    And that was 6 mos before Covid hit. So he wasn’t talking about some ‘experimental’ mRNA vaccine. That dipshit was talking about, like, whooping cough. 😀

  32. Jax says:

    @Teve: Imagine living in the year two thousand and twenty-one AD, twelve or so years of standardized education invested in one human, plus whatever college he managed, and he still came out thinking of vaccines as “sorcery”, and still…..somehow managed to get elected to office. 😐

    There is no God that can help us. We are only as strong as our weakest link, and holy shit, COVID has exposed our weakest links.