One such case is Abbott himself: the second-term governor, who has played at the base of his party and blocked health warrants aimed at curbing the spread of the pandemic ahead of a re-election candidacy. next year and a potential presidential candidacy in 2024, has tested positive for Covid-19, his office said on Tuesday. He now isolates himself at the governor’s mansion and receives the same treatment as President Donald Trump last year.
The governor’s positive test comes amid an increase in Covid-19 cases that has already overflowed Texas hospitals when the school year begins.
Abbott, like other Republican governors contemplating the 2024 presidential candidacies, including Ron DeSantis of Florida and Kristi Noem of South Dakota, has long opposed pandemic protocols, such as mask warrants and the closure of companies. Earlier this year, he signed an executive order banning local governments, including school districts, from wearing masks.
But increasingly, Texas schools and districts are ignoring Abbott’s order.
On Tuesday night, several school districts voted to ask for masks. One of them, the Paris Independent School District, which includes some 3,900 students from Northeast Texas, chose to do so through a loophole designed to circumvent Abbott’s order: the dress code was changed. of the district for students and employees to need masks.
Already, at least four Texas school districts have closed their facilities amid coronavirus outbreaks. Schools in Dallas, Houston, Austin and El Paso are some of those that have asked for masks, challenging Abbott. Local mask warrants have sparked a series of legal battles in state courts.
In federal court, the Disability Rights Texas group, which represents a group of young students with disabilities and underlying medical conditions, on Wednesday sued Abbott and the Texas Education Agency for a ban on the mask’s warrant. Students are under the age of 12 and therefore not eligible for vaccination, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit says that if “school districts are not able to implement the COVID-19 protocol as they see fit, parents of medically vulnerable students will have to decide whether to keep their children at home or risk placing them in a which poses a serious risk to their safety and health, “meaning” the Governor’s Executive Order and the ASD Public Health Guide illegally prevent school districts from complying with the ADA and section 504 to provide students with disabilities access to public school education “.
Growing resistance to Abbott’s ban on masked mandates is unlikely to politically harm the governor on the basis of his party.
Just a day before Abbott tested positive, he attended a multimedia, maskless rally at the Republican Club of Heritage Ranch, north of Dallas.
But the problem has become a hotbed between Abbott and local officials across Texas, who say they are trying to save lives in a state with an average of more than 15,000 hospitalizations in Covid-19 a day.
“The governor is looking at the polls. He’s not even talking to his own medical experts,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who sought a powerful mask warrant in recent days, but the court Texas Supreme Court blocked the imposition of fines on companies that rule it out, it told CNN this week. “He’s looking at polls about what Republican primary voters want to hear and he’s working from there.”
“We’re on a strong upward trajectory because Texas leadership refuses to lead and blame it on the lack of personal responsibility of others,” Jenkins said.
Former El Paso MP Beto O’Rourke, a 2018 Texas Senate candidate and hopeful of the 2020 Democratic presidency, has used his social media sources to follow school board meetings in the whole state.
“More school boards will meet tonight, which are detailed below. Introduce yourself and urge your administrators to ask for masks to protect children,” he tweeted Wednesday, along with a list of 12 districts that will meet later. in the evening.
The fight for local mask mandates has also put Abbott and other Republican governors on a path of collision with the administration of President Joe Biden.
Biden said Wednesday that he was directing the U.S. Secretary of Education to use federal authorities (and, if necessary, legal action) against governors “who try to block and intimidate local school officials and educators” who try to protect students. of the virus.
Biden said that if a governor wanted to cut a school official’s salary for having to wear masks – as DeSantis threatened to do last week – the federal government will pay those salaries with dollars from the plan. American rescue.
“Like I said before, if you don’t fight Covid-19, at least get out of the way of everyone else who tries,” Biden said, adding that he wouldn’t “sit” while governors try to block and intimidate educators who they protect our children. ”