|Trump vows industry protection in Texas oil well speech. Midland Reporter-Telegram photo
Trump Turns Texas Oil Patch that's Struggling
into Staging Ground for Suburb Protection Vow
By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor
July 29, 2020
The Texas coronavirus curve took a turn in the wrong direction on Wednesday despite a timely disappearing act in the oil mecca of Midland where President Donald Trump warned that left-wing radicals have gone to war against the great suburban dream.
Trump traveled to the Midland-Odessa area for a fundraiser and a speech at an oil well that he used for a prop to declare that America had finally become energy independent without acknowledging the pandemic or the drastic reduction in demand that's a direct result of it.
But Trump also used his first appearance in the Permian Basin as another opportunity to court housewives in suburbia with a vow to end federally-subsidized low-income housing near their neighborhoods.
“They want to uproot and demolish every American value," Trump said. "They want to wipe away every trace of religion from national life. They want to indoctrinate our children, defund our police, abolish the suburbs, incite riots and leave every city at the mercy of the radical left."
The president's day got off the ground with the banning of U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Tyler from Air Force One as a Trump ally who'd planned to fly with him to Texas before testing positive for COVID-19. Gohmert has been on the same page with Trump in their refusal to wear masks to help prevent the virus spread. Trump appeared to be ambivalent about the face-covering mandate that Governor Greg Abbott has in effect with his face uncovered during the speech that he made outside under a tent in Midland.
The coronavirus was just as oblivious to the guest of honor, however, when Midland County reported 80 new infections after Trump had departed. After reporting a record spike in Ector County on Tuesday, the state had the cumulative case count in Midland vastly deflated on Wednesday when the president arrived there. The Department of State Health Services pegged the total tally in Midland County at 1,364 after four days in a row with goose eggs. Midland County health officials are reporting a cumulative tally of 2,069 since the initial outbreak in March.
The DSHS reported 9,042 new COVID-19 cases today statewide - an increase of 701 from the daily count in Texas on Tuesday. But the state skirted another five-figure mark in the new infection tally with a critical assist from Midland County where health officials didn't report a single new case for the fourth day in a row after posting a daily average of more than 25 during the first 25 days in July.
Midland has the novel status of being the only major Texas county where the cumulative number of new coronavirus infections has actually gone down in the past week based on the state agency running total. The state erased 188 cases from the Midland County ledger in one fell swoop last week.
But neighboring Ector County hasn't been as healthy with a record-crushing 258 new infections on Tuesday when the Odessa area was gearing for a visit from a president who's claimed to be the father of the oil industry on which the Permian Basin economy revolves.
Trump wowed local Republicans at a fundraiser at the Marriott Hotel in Odessa where the coronavirus has been burning out of control with Ector having the second biggest increase in the case count in July of all of the state's major counties in Texas.
The virus surged to an all-time high in Ector on the eve of the president's day trip with 258 new infections in a development that vaulted the county from 11th to fifth in Texas in the number of cases per capita among counties with 100,000 residents since the initial outbreak in March.
But Trump continued to ignore the pandemic that's been a disaster for his re-election campaign during the jaunt to the Midland-Odessa area where he focused instead on the way he's liberated America from an addiction to foreign oil.
“It took a long time to be independent,” Trump said during a photo op at an oil rig in Midland. “And as long as I’m your President, we will never let anyone put American energy out of business, which is what they’d like to do.”
Trump, who's taken credit for an uptick in oil prices this summer after a record plunge in the spring, expressed his passion for Texas with a promise to protect the state from bully crude producers from other countries.
“We will never again be reliant on hostile foreign suppliers. We will defend your jobs, and we will defend the Lone Star State. I love this state. And we will defend America’s newfound energy independence.”
Trump has argued that he was able to put an end to the U.S. dependence on foreign oil with a call during the spring to allies in Russia and Saudi Arabia when the two were at a standoff in negotiations on production regulations. The United States had consumed more oil last year than it exported before Trump's intervention.
GOP leaders and lawmakers in Texas, however, might not be quite as elated over the Trump-fueled withdrawal of the U.S. from the foreign oil market when they're debating dramatic spending cuts and tax increases next year in the face of a record budget shortage that's due in part to the maneuvering by the Russians and Saudis.
But Trump apparently didn't say if he'd done something to tame the coronavirus in West Texas where Ector County reported a mere 16 new virus infections on Wednesday - an amount that is 16 times smaller that the record spike the previous day.
The coronavirus was busy setting new records in other Texas locations with the daily case count hitting highs in Webb County on the border and suburban Collin County on the northern edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Dallas County had posted a record number of coronavirus cases the previous day.