Governor Abbott and Covid. Texas USA

Photo by Ruben Reyes on

The Governor is addressing a large group of Texans assembled in a convention hall in Austin.

Gov – What Mr Biden is doing with his vaccine mandates clearly violates our personal freedom…

Applause from the audience.

Gov – … but not only that, it is also slowing our economic recovery because his mandate leads to worker layoffs, responsible and hard working Americans who refuse to be controlled by the government…

More applause from the audience.

Gov – … I have thus issued an executive order this last Monday that forbids Texas companies to compel its employees to get vaccinated, so they are free to defy the president’s mandate and set their own compassionate policies, which must uphold, first and foremost, the freedom of all Texans to choose whether to get vaccinated or not, based on their conscience, religious beliefs or other personal reasons.

More applause.

Gov – … We, as a proud people, will not be constrained by dictatorial orders from Washington.

More applause and now shouts of ‘Abbott for president!!’ ‘Long live the state of Texas!!’ ‘Down with Socialism!!’ ‘Abolish all taxes!!’

Gov – The Biden mandate, which applies to businesses with 100 employees or more, is clearly federal overreach and thus unacceptable.

A lady in the audience raises her hand to speak.

Gov – (signaling to her) Please, the lady has a question. Go ahead Ms.

Lady – I am an executive with the Greater Houston Partnership representing over 900 businesses, including Exxon and Chevron, and we welcome president Biden’s mandate because it makes it easier to enforce workplace safety and helps prevent workers going to other companies with laxer rules.

Gov – That may be convenient to you but what about freedom?

Lady – Why should a coworker bear the burden of possible infection from someone who refuses to be vaccinated?

Gov – People who do not get vaccinated use masks… they practice social distancing… for they are prudent and responsible people…

Lady – No, governor, some may do but others do not, so it is not uniform and thus the lack of vaccination represents a threat to the welfare of others, a threat to their freedom to be at lower risk of contagion.

Gov – There is always a risk, isn’t it, but that is the price of freedom…

Applause from the audience. The lady sits down. Now another woman raises her hand asking to speak.

Gov – (signaling to her) The lady over there, please.

Lady 2 – I am a nurse at Houston Methodist Hospital, where we have taken an oath to do no harm, and that means doing everything possible to prevent the spread of the disease and that is why we fired those employees who refused to get vaccinated. We cannot afford to add risk to those who come to us in search of assistance. When we care for a patient, we may need to be very close to them, and we will not permit anything but the highest standards in exercising such care.

Gov – If health care workers are properly suited, with enough barriers against the transmission of the infection, they should be able to deliver the best care and still assert their freedom to not get vaccinated. Or they could get assigned to other duties.

Scattered applause from the audience.

Now a man in an Army uniform stands up. He doesn’t bother to raise his hand.

Man – Governor… I am an officer with the US Army. I served two tours of duty in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban, who gave shelter to Al Qaeda and allowed for the attacks on our nation on 9/11. While fighting the Taliban, if my commander ordered me to go out on patrol in the service of my country – to preserve our liberties – I did not turn around and say to him, ‘What about my freedom?’ No, I just did it. And I did it because I had enrolled in the armed forces to preserve the freedoms of this country… and preserving the freedoms of this country calls for sacrifices. Well, our nation has been at war with Covid, and there ought to be no room for people to say, ‘I don’t want to join in fighting the germ that is killing my fellow Americans.’ Fighting Covid calls for actions that we may not personally agree with, but given they are in the interests of the greater good then they should be followed.’

Gov – Officer, we all appreciate your service… your courage…

Man – Sir, as of yesterday, the average daily deaths from Covid in the state of Texas was 235.6, with a 52% vaccination rate. In the state of Florida, the average daily deaths came to 239.7, with a 58% vaccination rate. But in California, where mandates have been enforced, the average daily deaths was only 98.7, with a 60% vaccination rate. Those are figures taken from the virus tracker site at the NY Times so all of you are welcome to check them. Some of these dead folks may have been older, or immunocompromised, but they are fellow Americans… and they also have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of freedom. So, sir, for you to insist on defying our commander in chief’s mandate, which was meant to protect all Americans, is to deny that the protection of our liberties require everyone’s sacrifice. And that all of those who so loudly complain about preserving freedom, forget what it costs. You, sir, may have your reasons to push your view, but I hold you do so at the expense of American lives and that it is completely unnecessary because we have vaccines. We have the weapons to effectively combat the enemy. Thank you.

The room is silent.

Gov – I have heard you, officer… and I see how you were an excellent soldier. And yet, it is my strong belief that, as in war, the price we have paid is worth the freedom we preserve.

Other Man – (stands up in the back of the room) Do you realize, Governor, what would’ve happened to our economy and the world’s, if we hadn’t had vaccines, the chaos we would’ve been in?

Gov – Of course I do. And I and all of us here, thank all the scientists who have worked so hard to bring us the shots. But Texans should always have their freedom, first and foremost. Thank you, all, and good night.

“Long live Texas!’ ‘Abbott for President!’ cry out two persons but there is tepid applause as the audience stands and starts to file out.

Another person shouts, ‘There’s a reason why Tesla is moving out of California.’

A couple of people laugh but no one else says anything.

Woman – I’m alive because of the vaccines.

The lights dim as people keep filing out.

Oscar Valdes.

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