Coronavirus infections are surging once again throughout Texas, our own Laredo officials, in your Saturday, Aug. 7 edition reporting 414 new cases within the past week, the last time more positive cases announced in a single report going back to January 28 when 528 were announced. Eight new deaths from the past two days also noted, and ICU beds at zero for the fourth straight day, one Laredo child transported to an out-of-town medical facility because Laredo hospitals have no pediatric ICU beds, and 78.6% of those infected were non-vaccinated and 288 of the active cases were below the age of 19.
And what does Texas Governor Greg Abbott do in the face of these potentially deadly facts? He ignores them, deliberately setting aside the science that has proven what can actually keep us safe and has instead done what I consider to be unforgivable, because this time his mandates are placing our children, especially the youngest ones who are not vaccinated, in grave danger.
As our children return to school, thousands of them under the age of 12 and thus unvaccinated. He is forcing them to return to school districts whose voices he has silenced, having forbidden the mask mandate, even more dangerous now that social distancing will be out of the question with anywhere from 22 to 30 or more students per classroom. And if a school district chooses to do the right thing and require the mask, as Houston ISD and Dallas ISD are contemplating, he will withdraw state funds, literally forcing a district into closure.
Adding even more danger to the upcoming school environment, according to TEA, following the Governor’s orders, school districts will no longer be required to contact trace if a child in a classroom is infected, nor will they be required to inform the parents of other children in that same classroom of the infection. .
All these new “guidelines” are a recipe for disaster and fly in the face of science, of what we have learned about keeping the virus at bay and most important of what we are still learning about the variant, that it is much more contagious, more virulent and attacking children at a significantly higher rate than the original COVID.
Contrast what we know, what science has proven to be the responsible steps to take, with Abbott’s utter disregard for the safety of our children, and we have a recipe for disaster. This is not the first time that his actions fly in the face of safety, his mandates intended to appeal to someone other than his constituents. Last spring, he opened up our state; he lifted the limits that had been placed on places of business as well as the mask mandate, and all the headway that we had made disappeared, Texas making the national news as the state with the highest number of infections per capita.
But when that second surge occurred, we, as adults, still had some control, especially over the safety of our children. This time, that power has been stripped away from us, and that, in my opinion, is horrifying.
Several days ago, I received a call from a grandmother very worried about her child with underlying conditions being forced to return to school. Her question: if someone knowingly places a child in danger, would that not constitute child abuse? My answer? Yes, it does, and I simply do not understand why more of us, thousands of us, are not up in arms, protesting this latest gross abuse of power by the governor of our state.
And….in case someone wants to throw personal responsibility in my face, claiming that this is what we should rely on, that simply will not fly, not when someone’s irresponsible act, choosing to skip the vaccine, choosing to stay unmasked, will endanger our children. Schools are required to inform a parent when someone else’s child in the same classroom has lice. And that’s just one on the list of mandates that we all choose to follow for the safety of our community. So no, personal choice in this case when our children are endangered simply will not fly!
Sylvia Bruni, County Chair-Webb County Democratic Party