Yesterday, Governor Greg Abbott finally followed what Democratic leaders at local levels have already been implementing for weeks: measures to limit community spread of the most dangerous global pandemic this century.
Donald Trump’s well-documented failures to prepare and respond to the COVID-19 crisis have included trying to pass the buck to state governors. As usual, Governor Abbott has been taking cues from Trump and trying to pass that buck to local governments. When your fellow GOP colleagues admit to hating cities and counties, perhaps it makes sense that you would prefer local leaders to handle a difficult situation.
However, the buck must stop somewhere, and at some point we need real leaders to step up and face this crisis head-on. So, who is actually stepping up and leading?
Democratic County Leaders Lead, While Abbott and other Republicans Reluctantly Follow
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has been deploying systems to dispel misinformation and working with her team for weeks in preparation of mitigating economic and public health challenges. But she cannot protect the people from Abbott and Trump’s failure to deliver more testing kits to her region in a timely manner.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler protected public health by making the difficult decision to declare a local disaster, cancelling the South by Southwest Festival—a huge part of the city’s economy. He took action at the same time Trump was relying on “wishful thinking” to handle the crisis.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins didn’t wait around for Abbott’s 49th-place response record on this emergency. Jenkins’s team has been in constant communication with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention well in advance of community spread, making it one of the most prepared communities in the state. He has continually called for Abbott to follow his team’s lead and take the type of action they are implementing in Dallas County.
Meanwhile in Tarrant County, the last major metropolitan county where Republicans are still in charge, its County Judge delivered dangerously inaccurate information to residents, telling local news outlets that COVID-19 is “not a deadly disease.”
The contrast in leadership is stark and, frankly, scary. Would you want to live in a place where the elected officials charged with maintaining public safety and health are simply crossing their fingers and closing their eyes to a problem? Or would you feel better with local leaders who work hard every day to make sure public information is accurate, supply chains work and healthcare remains accessible?
Telling the Truth is Not Partisan
This is no time for partisanship—but Texans should pay attention to who is doing their best to provide accurate information and trying to steer us toward health safety and economic security. Greg Abbott has started following local Democratic leadership from the cities and counties he tries so hard to hinder and smear. Greg Abbott has been locally controlled—and Texas is better off because of it. Let’s hope he stops taking cues from Trump and keeps taking cues from these courageous Democratic leaders.