Texas Governor Abbott, who banned masks and vaccine mandates, checks optimistic for Covid

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has fought local officials across the state over mask mandates, has tested positive for Covid-19, his office said Tuesday.

Abbott is fully vaccinated, “is in good health and currently has no symptoms,” said a statement from his office.

Abbott is receiving treatment with Regeneron monoclonal antibodies and plans to isolate himself in the governor’s mansion, his office said. His wife, Cecilia Abbott, tested negative. The otherwise healthy governor was paralyzed below the waist after an oak tree fell on him while jogging in 1984 and left him in a wheelchair. His age, 63, puts him in a higher risk category if he has a severe case of contracting the virus. However, he did tell people he was given a third or booster dose of the vaccine, two sources told NBC News.

“Governor Abbott is in constant communication with his staff, officials and government officials to ensure that the state government continues to operate smoothly and efficiently,” his office said. The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for further comments.

The announcement of Abbott’s illness comes a day after he campaigned at the Republican Club of Heritage Ranch north of Dallas, where he is seen surrounded by large crowds of unmasked participants.

It also comes just days after the governor called for 2,500 medical workers outside the state to fight the coronavirus. He also called for state hospitals to postpone all elective procedures to make way for treating more Covid patients as the Delta variant floods the state’s health infrastructure.

Abbott on Friday unveiled a plan to open nine monoclonal antibody infusion centers across the state as Covid patients clog hospitals. Nearly 45% of the 6,959 ICU beds reported in Texas are currently occupied by coronavirus patients, compared with 26% nationwide, according to the Department of Health.

Texas reported a seven-day average of more than 15,000 new Covid cases on Tuesday, up over 6% from a week, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

A staunch opponent of mask and vaccine mandates, Abbott issued an executive order in July banning local governments and school districts from requesting either masks or vaccines and fining a $ 1,000 fine. School districts in San Antonio and Dallas resisted Abbott by introducing mask mandates after appeals courts issued injunctions last week that initially prevented Abbott from enforcing his ban.

But the Texas Supreme Court sided with Abbott on Sunday and prevented the mask mandates from going into effect temporarily. Local city and school officials say they plan to continue fighting Abbott’s mask ban in court.

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