Republicans in Texas have filed a number of lawsuits while sanctioning GOP Gov. Greg Abbott after he reimposed restrictions on businesses and other sectors of the economy after coronavirus cases reignited across the state.
The suits come as critics of Abbott’s actions note that despite major increases in the number of coronavirus positives across the state, the vast majority of them involve patients who are asymptomatic or suffering mild conditions. They also note that the coronavirus death rate in Texas is remarkably low.
A suit filed last week in Travis County District Court by Houston GOP activist Steven Hotze, former Republican state Rep. Rick Green, former chair of the Republican Party of Texas Cathie Adams and two Houston business owners argue that Abbott’s orders, as well as the law that gave him the authority to issue them, violate the state constitution.
The suit, filed by Jared Woodfill, an attorney in Houston and chair of the Harris County Republican Party who has previously challenged Abbott’s orders, sought a temporary restraining order as well as a permanent injunction.
“Today a mask, tomorrow a hazmat suit — where does it stop? Everyday GA-29 is in effect, the government tramples on the liberties of Texans,” he said in challenging Abbott’s face mask mandate.
Abbott’s order took effect a week ago. He also extended his previous emergency order shutting or limiting businesses another 30 days as of July 10.
“We are now at a point where the virus is spreading so fast, there is little margin for error. If we want to avoid lockdowns, if we want to protect those we care about, we need all Texans to join this effort,” the governor said in a video announcement, the Star-Telegram reported.
The suit claims that despite “approximately 180,000 deaths in Texas, caused by multiple diseases and accidents,” deaths from coronavirus have “been a trivial cause of disease and death in Texas.”
In a column for RedState, Bethany Blankley notes that the coronavirus death rate in Texas is .01, and that out of a population of some 29 million people, 2.6 million have tested positive for the virus.
“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,” she continued.
“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,” she added.
Under Abbott’s mask order, persons can be fined up to $250 for every violation after they’ve been warned once. Police are not empowered to arrest or detain people who don’t wear masks, but business owners can remove violators from their premises.
Hotze and co-plaintiffs have asked the Texas Supreme Court to strike down the statute empowering the governor to issue his orders. According to the Star-Telegram, “Chapter 418 of the Texas Government Code allows the governor to declare a state of disaster by executive order or proclamation, and authorizes a wide breadth of responses, such as reallocating state resources and waiving state laws that hinder agencies’ abilities to respond to the pandemic.”
The suit argues that only the state’s Legislature has the authority to make laws and delegate authorities.
“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 Texas Public Policy Foundation, told Blankley. “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.”
Last month, a senior Texas ER executive said that the spike in ICU admissions and other hospitalizations was largely due to “really sick people with non-covid issues” finally seeking medical attention after being too frightened to venture out during the pandemic.
“From multiple sources at different hospitals — they have plenty of capacity and no shortage of acute care beds. No real data on breakdown of patients who have Covid but are not in the hospital because of Covid,” the executive said.
“Recognition that because all patients are tested for Covid you have some percentage of patients listed as Covid patients who are non Covid symptomatic and that the hospitalization rate is somewhat driven by hospitals taking their normal patients with other issues,” the executive added in an email sent to former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson, which he shared online.
Wondering what’s really happening in Texas? Here’s the email, from a senior executive at a Texas ER chain that sees thousands of patients a month. He went on the record – a brave move. I’m going to let him speak for himself. (Two tweets of screenshots. Worth reading to the end.) pic.twitter.com/4xuBdTIFIc
— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) June 30, 2020
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