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Texas Governor Greg Abbott Tests Positive for Coronavirus After Banning Mask & Vaccine Mandates

StoryAugust 18, 2021
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Texas Governor Greg Abbott has tested positive for the coronavirus, just one day after he attended a packed indoor Republican event in Dallas, where he and most attendees were unmasked. Abbott, who said he was not showing symptoms of COVID-19, imposed a statewide ban on vaccine and mask mandates last month, though a judge later blocked the ban on mask mandates. Abbott has also tried to blame immigrants for the spread of COVID-19 in Texas and issued an executive order last month instructing state troopers to stop any vehicle suspected of transporting migrants “who pose a risk of carrying COVID-19.” Abbott’s rhetoric is “simply shifting blame” from his own policies to migrants, says Manoj Govindaiah, the director of policy and government affairs at Texas-based RAICES, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services. “Public health officials roundly agree that migrants are not necessarily bringing in COVID in any higher numbers than anyone else,” says Govindaiah.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to another issue. Let’s turn to Texas, where RAICES is based, where Republican Governor Greg Abbott has tested positive for coronavirus, just a day after he attended a packed, indoor, mostly unmasked Republican fundraiser in Dallas of hundreds. Abbott’s office says he’s fully vaccinated. Abbott has imposed a statewide ban on vaccine and mask mandates and tried to blame migrants for the spread of COVID-19 in Texas.

So, we continue with Manoj Govindaiah, director of policy and government affairs at RAICES, which tweeted last night, “Turns out it wasn’t an immigrant or asylum seeker who was spreading COVID-19 all over Texas after all…”

Manoj, talk about the significance of Governor Abbott — it’s terrible that he’s now come down with COVID; he’s getting a very expensive treatment, as Trump did, the monoclonal antibodies — but what he has said about migrants and COVID.

MANOJ GOVINDAIAH: I mean, it’s horrible that he has tested positive, and I genuinely wish him a full recovery. But, you know, his rhetoric is simply shifting blame for the increase in COVID infections from the inefficiency and wrongheadedness of his own policies and putting it on the backs of migrants. You know, public health officials roundly agree that migrants are not necessarily bringing in COVID in any higher numbers than anyone else. We have continued to allow commercial flights internationally. People continue traveling overseas. U.S. citizens and permanent residents continue traveling abroad and coming back. The only difference is they’re doing it on an airplane versus coming across a land border.

Abbott has taken all types of measures to try to — justifying these very harsh, unfair, unjust measures against migrants, claiming that they’re necessary to protect us from COVID-19, while he’s simultaneously banning masks in schools, preventing — banning mask mandates, I should say — preventing local officials from taking actions that could protect their populations. And now we’re clearly seeing the result. You know, he attended a large Republican fundraiser. I’m not sure if that’s where he contracted it, but at some point he contracted it. I highly doubt he’s come in contact with any of the migrants who —

AMY GOODMAN: We have 10 seconds.

MANOJ GOVINDAIAH: — have recently arrived in the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much.

MANOJ GOVINDAIAH: It’s very concerning, hearing this rhetoric from him.

AMY GOODMAN: Manoj Govindaiah, director of policy and government affairs at RAICES in Texas.

That does it for our broadcast. Democracy Now! produced with Renée Feltz, Mike Burke, Deena Guzder, Messiah Rhodes, Nermeen Shaikh, María Taracena, Tami Woronoff, Charina Nadura, Sam Alcoff, Tey-Marie Astudillo, John Hamilton, Robby Karran, Hany Massoud, Adriano Contreras. Our general manager, Julie Crosby. Special thanks to Becca Staley. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks for joining us.

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