Abbott Sees Texas on Covid Win Verge
with New Drugs Despite All-Time Spike
November 19, 2020
Governor Greg Abbott recycled a prediction that bombed in the spring when he claimed on Thursday that Texas is "closer to turning the corner of this pandemic" before a sky-piercing record spike hours later.
The Department of State Health Services recorded 12,293 new COVID-19 infections late this afternoon - eclipsing the previous mark of 10,823 that had been established on Tuesday.
Two dozen major Texas counties are on red alert at Harvard University with sharp and steady daily increases that would prompt lockdowns if the experts were calling the shots. All of the other large counties are currently designated as orange with the virus surging at all-time levels everywhere in the state.
But the governor is betting on modern medicine with plans that he announced today to shuffle significant supplies of the new drug bamlanivimab to hospitals in Texas that need it the most as an investigational monoclonal antibody therapy that aims to decrease the need for hospitalizations and emergency room trips.
"Every day, the Lone Star State is closer to turning the corner of this pandemic thanks to medical advancements like bamlanivimab," Abbott said after the briefing. "This therapy drug will help prevent hospitalizations and reduce the strain on our healthcare system and workers. However, as encouraging as these advancements are, there is still no substitute for personal responsibility. The State urges all Texans to continue to wear a mask, social distance, and wash your hands, especially as we head into the holiday season."
Abbott broke the news on the distribution of the new drug by Eli Lilly and Company in a meeting with local officials in Lubbock where hospitals have been overwhelmed with a record surge of covid patients in one of the nation's hottest spots this fall.
But the governor's newfound enthusiasm seems like an Olympic leap of faith in a state that's been crawling with the coronavirus since Abbott allowed the bars to reopen early last month. While everyone on both sides of the aisle is putting for medical breakthroughs, the truth is that the virus has shown no signs of a downturn in Texas where it's out of control and getting harder to dodge.
The problem with bamlanivimab is that it's only designed to treat covid patients who are at severe risk of disease but haven't required hospital treatment in the early stages of infection.
Democrats responded to Abbott's comments on the new therapy by stepping up a push for tighter restrictions as Texas boils in the fall wave. Abbott hasn't modified the emergency orders throughout the current outbreak.
State Rep. Chris Turner of Grand Prairie - the Texas House Democratic Caucus chairman - implored the governor to give local governments the authority to manage responses for the needs of individual areas.
Abbott's appeared to be parroting President Donald Trump's default message on covid in the final weeks of the White House where he insisted that the country had rounded the corner and that the disease would simply disappear if he won again.
The governor's cheery forecast today was slightly more guarded and vague than it had been in May when he declared during a trip to Amarillo that the area had turned the corner after a massive initial outbreak. After a relatively light summer dosing, the Amarillo area and all of the other metros in West Texas have had the highest surges in new infections in the fall.