Saturday, August 07, 2021

West Texas Legislative Summit Beyond Covid-19

Texas Congressmen turned out in droves for this years West Texas Legislative Summit with its Beyond COVID-19 theme.  Like everyone I'd hoped for a fading pandemic.  The Delta variant scuttled that vision.  Shannon Medical Center has seen its COVID patient census rise into the fifties.  

Shannon CEO Shane Plymell kicked off the legislative summit.  On July 23rd he interviewed Dr. Chris Barnett on SATV regarding the rapidly spreading Covid variant.  

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) admitted President Trump lost the election. 

White men and the suburbs turned on Donald Trump, Crenshaw said, pointing to the gains in the House and the less-than-expected losses in the Senate.

“My district is very suburban. Trump won by 1 point, I won by 13 points,” Crenshaw said. “Suburbanites don’t like mean tweets.”

It wasn't mean tweets.   Many Americans wanted a President who cared enough to mount an effective public health response to a pandemic.  Trump had a 7 million vote deficit, a referendum on his botching the pandemic.  

Texas gutted public health after the new millennium, removing access to primary care as key public health strategy.  Nationally public health has been so diminished citizens don't view it as their responsibility.   

Healthcare workers view the public's indifference, even antagonism, to public health strategies as bizarre.  The president of the Austin-based Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals offered:

“It stuns me why we had to make this a political issue.  That’s the sad thing about this — it’s all political.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott took public health steps last year to combat the virus.  Not now. 

“Going forward, in Texas, there will not be any government-imposed shutdowns or mask mandates,” Abbott said. “Everyone already knows what to do.”

The numbers have prompted even the state health department to ring the alarm in a way that Abbott has not, tweeting Wednesday that Texas is “facing a new wave” and the variant “has erased much progress to end the pandemic.”

Everyone does not know what to do and Governor Abbott knows it.

Some of the most powerful conservatives in the United States have, since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, chosen to sow disinformation along with mockery and distrust of proven methods of combating the disease, from masks to vaccines to social distancing. Their actions have afflicted the nation as a whole with more disease and death and economic crisis than good leadership aligned with science might have, and, in spite of hundreds of thousands of well-documented deaths and a new surge, they continue. Their malice has become so normal that its real nature is rarely addressed. Call it biological warfare by propaganda.

We are beyond COVID-19 like we are beyond the Texas electrical grid failure.  In both cases elected leaders failed the people they were supposed to serve.  Trump paid the price with election defeat, something he is incapable of facing.

It remains to be seen how deadly the Delta variant will be.  The City of San Angelo announced five COVID deaths the last two days.   Four of the five were unvaccinated while one had been fully vaccinated.

Cases are widespread in our community.  It's time we took care of one another.  Just like the winter storm help is not coming from our leaders.

Update 8-8-21:  Medical experts weighed in on Texas recent COVID moves:

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is out with new COVID-19 health guidance for schools that's giving some medical experts cause for concern

The new guidelines state that schools don't have to inform parents of positive cases; schools do not have to contact trace; and parents can choose to send a student to school if he or she has been in close contact with a positive case, among other updates. 

“How can a family assess their own risk if they don’t know if their kid was exposed? The context here is that (it’s) indoors, close proximity, poor ventilation, and mask-free with unvaccinated people. It’s objectively insane." --Dr. Dara Kass, associate clinical professor of emergency medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City

"It's meant to send a message:  We don't care about public health expertise or guidance, we are all about liberty and freedom unconstrained by any responsibility to others."--Gregg Gonsalves, associate professor of epidemiology at Yale University 

The Delta variant invaded India and the UK with a rapid rise then a relatively quick fall off.   This occurred over 72 days in India.

Update 8-11-21:  Shannon CEO Shane Plymel and Dr. Doug Schultz said 67 patients with COVID were in the hospital and 12 in the ICU.  80% of those patients did not get the COVID vaccine.  The surge is steeper than the last wave. 

Update 8-14-21:  There are no pediatric ICU beds available in North Texas.  San Angelo had 3 COVID deaths and 67 hospitalizations yesterday.  Republican leaders fiddle while COVID burns through their supporters.  Citizens want leaders who care about their lives.  Trump lost the election by 7 million votes for botching the pandemic response.

Update 8-16-21:  Physicians wish we were "beyond COVID-19."  "This time around we have a vaccine that can prevent a majority of Covid hospital cases, yet our ICUs in certain states are fuller than ever. Fewer people are wearing masks and I am worried for a particularly brutal flu season combined with continued Covid Delta spread."  This was a race we lost.

An unvaccinated male in his 20's died from COVID according to local health officials.  As many as 73 patients were hospitalized with COVID over the weekend.  

Texas ordered mortuary trailers from FEMA for an expected surge in COVID-19 deaths.  

Update 1-2-22:  America's sad state of affairs in public health is reflected by:

"Hundreds of state and local health officials across the country have retired, resigned or been forced out in partisan rancor over the pandemic."

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