Opinion

Republicans Sue, Censure Gov. Abbott Over Ongoing Restrictive Executive Orders

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Posted: Jul 11, 2020 12:01 AM
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Republicans Sue, Censure Gov. Abbott Over Ongoing Restrictive Executive Orders

Source: Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool

Despite the mainstream media narrative, Texas leads the nation in coronavirus recoveries, and its coronavirus death rate as a share of the population is 0.01 percent.

Of a population of roughly 29 million people, there have been 2.6 million tests for the coronavirus. Among them, 230,346 positive cases have been reported, or .79 percent of the population. Roughly 8.85 percent of those who have been tested have tested positive for the virus. And only those who are presenting symptoms are tested, so the number is slightly skewed.

There have been an estimated 118,326 recoveries, and 2,918 reported coronavirus-related deaths as of July 9, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services coronavirus database.

Former legislators, Republicans, and conservatives have filed multiple lawsuits against Republican Gov. Greg Abbott for multiple actions he’s taken that they argue violate the Texas Constitution, U.S. Constitution, and privacy laws. 

With a successful recovery rate and a significantly low death rate of one-tenth of one percent, critics argue there is no reason for the governor to not reopen the state to get people fully back to work. Instead, the governor just extended his emergency order for another 30 days as of July 10.

All the while, he has said his decisions have been made based on the data and science, and the data supports reopening—not continued closures.

According to the state database, the number of coronavirus-related deaths shows a downward trend—and recoveries far outweigh deaths. Infection rates per county population are minuscule—roughly one percent and less. Death rates are fractions of one percent.

Consider the data reported by the state: in Dallas County, the number of total coronavirus cases is 29,160, since the state and county began tracking the data. Of them, there have been 16,192 recoveries and 426 deaths. As of July 8, there are 11,529 active cases. Of the county’s 2.6 million people, the coronavirus case number/infection rate is 1.1 percent. The death rate is .000037. (Divide 426 by 2.6 million.)

In Harris County, the reported number of total coronavirus cases is 40,012. Of them, there have been 12,856 recoveries and 411 deaths. As of July 8, there are 26,048 active cases. Of the county’s 4 million people, the case number/infection rate is 1.0 percent. The death rate is .01 percent. (Again, divide the number of cases and deaths by population.)

In Tarrant County, the reported number of total coronavirus cases is 16,180. Of them, there have been 7,018 recoveries and 254 coronavirus-related deaths. As of July 8, there are 8,319 active cases. Of the county’s 2 million people, the case number/infection rate is .80 percent. The death rate as a share of the population is 0.01 percent.

In Travis County, the reported number of total coronavirus cases is 13,161. Of them, there have been 9,837 recoveries and 159 coronavirus-related deaths. As of July 8, there are 2,420 active cases. Of the county’s 1.2 million people, the case number/infection rate is 1.0 percent. The death rate as a share of the population is 0.01 percent.

In Bexar County, the reported number of total coronavirus cases is 16,725. Of them, there have been 6,191 recoveries and 146 coronavirus-related deaths. As of July 8, there are 9,552 active cases. Of the county’s 2 million people, the case number/infection rate is .83 percent. The death rate as a share of the population is 0.01 percent.

In El Paso County, the reported number of total coronavirus cases is 8,385. Of them, there have been 5,155 recoveries and 145 coronavirus-related deaths. As of July 8, there are 9,552 active cases. Of the county’s roughly 840,000 people, the case number/infection rate is .99 percent. The death rate as a share of the population is 0.01 percent.

Thanks to increased federal funding, deployment of the National Guard, and exceptional medical facilities and staff, Texas is now averaging more than 50,000 COVID-19 tests per day. 

With increased testing, increased number of cases is to be expected. However, Texas has the 28th-lowest COVID case rate in the U.S. 

In Texas, the COVID-19 positivity rate has also been flat for 10 days—even over the July 4th holiday weekend.

Of the staffed hospital beds available, 20 percent are open and available specifically for coronavirus patients, and 60.8 percent of Texas’ ventilators are available. 

According to the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) calculations:

- 17 percent of beds and 61 percent of ventilators are available in Dallas County;

- 14 percent of beds and 53 percent of ventilators are available in Harris County;

- 21 percent of beds and 62 percent of ventilators are available in Travis County;

- 14 percent of beds and 52 percent of ventilators are available in Bexar County;

- 17 percent of beds and 61 percent of ventilators are available in Tarrant County.

And these are staffed beds, not licensed beds, meaning there are far more hospital beds available if hospitals were fully staffing their floors. Significant numbers of staff have been let go because of Abbott’s executive shut down orders.

Despite media claims to the contrary, the data indicates that there is no hospital crisis—for coronavirus patients—in Texas. 

But there appears to be a healthcare crisis for non-coronavirus patients. More than 500 doctors sent a letter to President Donald Trump arguing that the state shutdowns are creating a “mass casualty event.” Their cry has apparently fallen on deaf ears at the national and state level.

Texas’ .01 percent death rate is the lowest COVID-19 fatality rate out of the most affected states, and it is tied for the 14th-lowest COVID-19 fatality rate in the U.S., the TPPF notes.

“While many seem to suggest that Texas is in bad shape, they aren’t telling the whole story,” David Balat, director of the Right on Healthcare initiative at the TPPF, told me. “The fact is Texas is one of the safest places to be during the pandemic. We should all be cautious, but we are not in the desperate crisis and overburdening hospital beds like many in the media and officials claim.”

Of the state’s most populated counties, the case number/infection rate is one percent or less. Of Texas’ lesser-populated counties, the case number/infection rate is far less than one percent, which is the norm across the country, according to research conducted by the Heritage Foundation. 

More than half of all U.S. counties report zero COVID-19 deaths. 

States and counties that fail to reopen could cause the economic output to fall by $2 trillion, the Heritage Foundation projects.

Consider these statistics: 

* 99.0 percent of Travis County residents don’t have the coronavirus;

* 99.2 percent of Harris County residents don’t have the virus;

* 99.1 percent of Bexar County residents don’t have the virus;

* 98.9 percent of Dallas County residents don’t have the virus; 

* 99.2 percent of Tarrant County residents don’t have the virus.

Based on this data, Texas residents are asking why the governor hasn’t reopened the state. Gov. Abbott has said the roughly 3 million jobs lost were directly related to businesses shut down as a result of his executive orders, but many of those businesses aren’t reopening and people won’t have jobs to go back to. 

JoAnn Fleming, founder of Grassroots America We The People, in a recent email to activists said, “Under the cover of unconstitutional ‘Emergency Powers’ laws on the books, COVID-19 has been used to silence the voice of The People, expand government authority, commit taxpayers to untold debt, destroy businesses/jobs, empower socialist redistribution of wealth, put a government boot on churches, ration health care for non-COVID patients, and torch civil liberties.”

The Texas House Freedom Caucus released a letter it sent to Abbott, arguing its case for the need for a special legislative session.

“This is not hard or difficult to understand,” Fleming said. “Gov. Abbott should immediately call a special session of the legislature to allow for public hearings and debate about the appropriate, constitutional response to COVID-19.”

"Forget calling the Governor’s Office,” she adds. “He did not heed the thousands of calls during the 2019 legislative session, nor those in support of our unity project – The Lone Star Agenda, nor calls about the shutdown, [or] contact tracing contract. He and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have ignored the last several Texas Conservative Grassroots Coalition letters as we attempted to lodge our grievances."

More than 1,800 Texans have now sued Gov. Abbott over the state's contact tracing program, which they argue violates constitutional rights and privacy laws. Roughly 400 others have also sued Abbott for issuing what they argue are unconstitutional executive orders.

Jared Woodfill, the attorney who has filed lawsuits on behalf of the plaintiffs and is a former Harris County Republican chairman, told me in an email, "Governor Abbott continues to act like a king, refusing to convene the Legislature to address his unconstitutional orders. Abbott is unilaterally destroying our economy and trampling on our constitutional rights. Why won’t he convene the Legislature and allow our elected representatives to express their constituents' voice?” 

“He seems to forget we live in a Republic, not a monarchy,” Woodfill adds. “It is time to unmask his unconstitutional orders! It is time for freedom and liberty to be restored in Texas.” 

Woodfill’s firm has filed a suit at the Texas Supreme Court, the District Courts of Travis and Harris Counties, with the City of Galveston, and another is expected to be filed in federal court soon. 

Within days of the latest executive order Abbott issued requiring face-covering statewide, several county Republican parties passed censure resolutions against Abbott: Ector County, Harrison County, Montgomery, and Llano County, citing abuses of executive authority, among other violations. 

The censures will be considered, and possibly sustained, by the delegates of the 2020 Republican Party State Convention. Several other counties are expected to pass similar resolutions, according to the Texas Scorecard.

The question Texans keep asking is why won’t Abbott fully reopen a state whose own data reports a .01 percent death rate and 1 percent case/infection rate or less?