One million people in Texas have contracted COVID-19. One. Million. People.
They are running out of hospital beds. They are running out of room in their morgues. They are running out of room in the refrigeration trucks. They are shipping bodies around the state because the funeral homes are swamped. And, in El Paso, with all this, a group of restaurateurs is suing a local judge for "exceeding his authority" in ordering a county-wide shutdown. The attorney general of the state of Texas has joined that lawsuit. From the El Paso Times:
[County Judge Ricardo] Samaniego on Oct. 29 ordered nonessential businesses, including restaurant dining rooms, to shutdown for two weeks starting midnight Oct. 30 through Nov. 11. Those businesses include:
Tattoo parlors; Hair salons; Nail salons; Gyms; Massage businesses; In-person dining
Businesses deemed essential that can remain open include:
Grocery stores; Retail-to-go services; Funeral services; Healthcare offices and facilities; Pharmacies; Government operations; Schools providing meal services; Childcare centers
Which has irritated upper echelons.
The lawsuit and injunction request filed by the group of restaurant operators and the Attorney General's Office argued that the order is illegal because it goes against Gov. Greg Abbott's Oct. 7 order tied to reopening Texas businesses. Abbott issued a statement Tuesday saying that Samaniego's order is illegal and Samaniego is not doing his job of enforcing existing protocols designed to "contain COVID-19 while allowing businesses to safely open."
If there is a state official in American history who has done more damage to the country at large than Greg Abbott, I'd like to see someone present the case for that person. The fact is that Abbott's "existing protocols" are...not...working. When your refrigeration trucks, which were dispatched because your morgues were running out of room, are running out of room, your existing protocols are not working.
State officials around the country are failing as badly as the president* did, and that is a fairly high bar. Wisconsin is in a horrible spiral, and the Republicans in the state legislature are fighting Governor Tony Evers, who took to statewide television on Tuesday night to appeal to the citizens of his state. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Evers on Tuesday evening delivered a statewide address and issued an executive order to make his case to the public: please stay home. It's the first time the governor has used a prime-time platform to ask the public to begin to take the pandemic seriously, nine months into the outbreak. "Wisconsin, this is serious. This crisis is urgent," Evers said in a speech from the Wisconsin State Capitol. "It's not safe to go out, it’s not safe to have others over — it's just not safe. And it might not be safe for a while yet."
Of course, these have to be suggestions—very strong suggestions—and not mandates because freedom, that's why.
A spokeswoman did not immediately answer why Evers is advising restrictions instead of mandating them, but Evers said in his speech that a May state Supreme Court ruling limited his ability to issue such mandates. "We estimated then that our efforts would save between 300 and 1,400 lives," Evers said about the order that was invalidated. "That order was struck down by the Wisconsin Supreme Court — a decision that hamstrung our ability to respond to this virus by using the tools supported by science and public health experts."
Every measure Evers has put forth to combat the virus has been challenged in court by conservatives, including a popular mask mandate. Last week, a state appeals court invalidated his most recent order to limit capacity in bars and restaurants and restrict public gatherings. White House officials have urged Wisconsin leaders in recent weeks to implement new mitigation measures and come together to present a unified message to get skeptics on board but Republican lawmakers have largely ignored the calls to do more.
Yes, the Republicans in Wisconsin are blowing off Camp Runamuck as regards public health recommendations. This is one step above reading goat entrails.
And the Dakotas are completely freaking hopeless. From the Mitchell Republic:
Speaking with ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week," Noem responded to comments made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., attributing the state's case increases to regionality and more testing. Noem's comments came after Stephanopoulos asked Cuomo what his message would be to Republicans who have not acknowledged President-elect Joe Biden. "It is a regional increase that we're seeing. We are testing more," Noem said, before calling out that New York still has the nation's second-worst death rate on a per capita basis. New York has 173 deaths per 100,000 residents, while South Dakota has 54 deaths per 100,000 residents. "I appreciated that President (Donald) Trump gave us the flexibility to do the right thing in our state and will continue to do that," she said. "He let me do my job."
Noem and her North Dakota running buddy, Governor Doug Burgum, have done their jobs so very well that Tim Walz, the governor of neighboring Minnesota, is begging them to, well, do their jobs. From the Grand Forks Herald:
During a series of news conferences on Tuesday, Nov. 10, announcing Minnesota's own newly increased coronavirus restrictions, Walz said he does not "blame" neighboring states for Minnesota's recent spike, but criticized the hands-off approach taken by North Dakota and South Dakota to battling the pandemic. Asked by reporters if he "implores" Republican Govs. Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Doug Burgum of North Dakota to put in place more COVID-19 restrictions like limiting gatherings and a mask mandate, Walz answered yes.
"I want to be clear: I’m not blaming other governors or blaming others states," Walz said. "I am saying, they have made choices that have increased spread to a certain degree. When people go over there, they are going to get infected and bring it back home."
Walz took particular aim at Noem, whose approach to governing in the pandemic has foiled his from the start. She has made a national name of herself in cable news appearances and campaign visits across the country touting personal liberty and responsibility over government mandates, never ordering South Dakotans to shelter in place or wear face masks. "This one’s a little bit personal because the governor of South Dakota has taken to travelling to other states and criticizing others now at a time when that state’s hospital capacity is overwhelmed," Walz said Tuesday. "But I’m not blaming them. We’ve made our own choices."
But he's not blaming them, mind you. The rest of us can, though.
And, finally, there's Florida, where Governor Ron DiSantis is a fool who hires other fools. From the Miami Herald:
In his own words, Kyle Lamb of Columbus, Ohio, has few qualifications for the job at the state’s Office of Policy and Budget, which pays $40,000 per year. “Fact is, I’m not an ‘expert.’ I’m not a doctor, epidemiologist, virologist or scientist,” Lamb wrote on a website for a subscribers-only podcast he hosts about the coronavirus. “I also don’t need to be. Experts don’t have all the answers, and we’ve learned that the hard way.”
Plucked from the obscurity of the blogosphere, Lamb, 40, broadcasts his lack of scientific training in his theories about the pandemic. In frequent posts on Twitter and sports message boards, Lamb has said that masks don’t prevent the coronavirus from spreading; that lockdowns are ineffective; that hydroxychloroquine, a drug touted by President Donald Trump, can treat the virus; that COVID-19, which he said might be part of a Chinese “biowar,” is not more deadly than the flu; and that the virus isn’t dangerous for children to contract.
The president* is only the index patient.
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