By Michelle Alejandra Booth
Your co-worker’s cousin, your cousin, then you – all with COVID. Whateight8 months ago started as a “New York problem” and a third degree of separation knowing someone who knows someone with COVID is now something with no-degree of separation.
El Paso is now the epicenter of COVID-19, the “next New York.” Headlines about our extra shipment of morgue trucks and the most recent images of inmates helping transport body bags have put the national spotlight on our Sun City. But unlike New York, we have a governor who not only isn’t being proactive about the rising COVID cases but is instead interfering in efforts to slow the COVID spread.
A back and forth between County Judge Ricardo Samaniego and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has shown a disregard for the ability of El Paso leadership to decide what is best for their community.
In a statement Paxton said: “The public cannot have two sets of rules to live by. A tyrant who thinks he can ignore state law cannot stop that.”
The irony is that just last week, in the middle of a pandemic, Texas went to the Supreme Court to contest the validity of the Affordable Care Act.
In a push against ACA, Texas has made the argument that “states are individual sovereigns that cannot be commandeered by the federal government. Our challenge to ObamaCare was never about health care or insurance – it was about the rule of law and a fight against a federal government that continues to expand.”
In 2016 Abbott said “we will continue our work to pull the plug on this unworkable and unpopular law.”
Abbott and Paxton are saying that they have a right to tell us what to do, but no one should tell them what to do.
In July, after Texas had a rise in COVID-19 cases, Abbott walked back his argument against mandating masks after blocking such efforts by cities.
In a statement in July, Abbott said, “We are now at a point where the virus is spreading so fast, there is little margin for error.” He acknowledged wearing masks is a proven method of slowing down the virus, saying that if Texans comply, “more extreme measures may be avoided.”
Now, El Paso is in dire straits and it’s not unreasonable to take “extreme measures.”
Michelle Alejandra Booth was born and raised in El Paso and works in K-12 public policy.
Cover photo: Medical personnel, many from out of town, staff the auxiliary medical unit in the Texas Tech parking lot. The unit was built to hold patients as hospitals like nearby University Medical Center reached capacity due to the surge in COVID-19 cases. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)