Texas Gov Abbott Set To Declare State’s ‘Coronavacation’ Over

Texas has cured the coronavirus! Hallelujah! Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Obviously) said he plans to reopen businesses with an executive order, but don't you worry, he's gonna make sure it's “safe" for Texans to accelerate the spread of an infectious disease.

ABBOTT: We can and we must do this. We can do both, expand and restore the livelihoods that Texans want to have by helping them return to work. One thing about Texans, they enjoy working and they want to get back into the workforce.

That's “one thing" about Texans? I thought it was saying “itty bitty" and “boy, hidy!" My understanding is that everyone wanted to get back in the workforce because it's either that or sleeping under a bridge. They just don't want to go to work during a pandemic and end up buried under a bridge.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick suggested last month that older Texans would gladly serve as soylent green for the economy. But not all older Texans, such as Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, were on board with Patrick's deranged plans. Price and Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver issued stay-at-home orders for their respective cities well before Abbott got around to doing so for the entire state. That was less than two weeks ago and Abbott is already ready to pull the plug.

Ask not what President Trump can do for you, Texas. Ask what Texas can do for President Trump. Like maybe dying. Would that suffice?

Abbott's mad dream involves ramping up the state's COVID-19 testing. He announced last week that Walgreens locations would soon offer a test that Texans can take from a drive-thru window. They'll have results within 15 minutes. (Walgreens should consider partnering with Starbucks so you can leave with a “safe to work" latte or a “go quarantine yourself" americano.)

There's just one flaw in Abbott's plan: Texas reportedly has the second-worst rate of testing per capita in the nation. The state conducts a paltry 332 tests for every 100,000 people. Only Kansas is worse with 327 tests per 100,000 people. Texas should probably at least wait until Kansas reopens without regard for public safety, but Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly has a brain her in her head.

From the Houston Chronicle:

In cities across Texas — from Houston to Dallas, San Antonio to Nacogdoches — testing continues to be fraught with missteps, delays and shortages, resulting in what many predict will ultimately be a significant undercount. Not fully knowing who has or had the disease both skews public health data and also hampers treatment and prevention strategies, potentially leading to a higher death count, health care experts say.

Twenty-six states are testing at least double the rate as Texas. New York is testing 1,877 per 100,000 people, and Louisiana, which is next door and significantly smaller, tests 1,622 per 100,000 people. New Mexico is also outperforming Texas, but Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Department of State Health Services, is confident of the state's half-assed approach.

VAN DEUSEN: We've consistently seen about 10 percent of tests coming back positive, which indicates there is enough testing for public health surveillance. If we saw 40 or 50 percent or more of test coming back positive, we'd be concerned that there could be a large number of cases out there going unreported, but that has not been the case.

This is why I wish I'd completed my post-graduate studies in stupidity because this makes no sense to me. Washington state averaged 10 percent of positive tests, and it was the epicenter of the outbreak. Abbott insists that he's "seeing more testing achieved in the state of Texas," which is demonstrably untrue so, hey, everyone back to work!

Not only does Texas suck at testing, which is key to any responsible “reopening" of the economy, it can't even shelter in place correctly. Abbott (rightly) declared golf courses “non-essential businesses" when issuing his stay-at-home order, but Mansfield's city attorney "determined golf course operators may elect to continue minimum basic operations as a non-essential business."

This means that the grounds crew has to show up for work and keep the courses “playable" for golfers. That's more people on the roads, more people potentially interacting, and a greater spread of disease. It's one thing if only bored rich people were endangering themselves, but working people have to risk infection so that the courses are well-maintained. That's horrific.

Abbott extended the state's disaster declaration through May 13, so it's hard to see how he could reasonably consider cutting the ribbon for Texas's grand re-opening any sooner than that. However, reasonable consideration might not be among the governor's core competencies.

[Houston Chronicle / Fort-Worth Star Telegram]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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