“We need the state to step in and lead or get out of the way and let us lead,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo told reporters Tuesday.
Public health experts and elected officials acknowledge they are up against a stronger sense of “COVID fatigue” than ever — a malaise that appears to be reflected in the state response.
In recent days, Texas has reported daily new case tallies on par with where the state was during its summer spike. A record 10,826 new cases were reported Tuesday, surpassing the previous high of 10,791 in mid-July.
Exhibit A in the state-local tensions is hard-hit El Paso County. Attorney General Ken Paxton has gone to court to stop the shutdown order that County Judge Ricardo Samaniego issued late last month, saying it oversteps Abbott’s statewide rules. A state appeals court blocked the order for a second time Friday.
Abbott blasted the order shortly after it was issued, saying Samaniego “failed to do his job” enforcing existing rules to slow the spread of the virus “and is now illegally shutting down entire businesses.”
In an interview, Samaniego said the criticism from Abbott felt politically motivated and failed to address the biggest issue El Paso faces — that people are getting sick, being hospitalized and dying at staggering rates. Samaniego said he did everything within his power to limit the spread of the virus. He, like other local officials, wants more authority to take precautions in his county.
“It was about saving lives, not about whether I was right or wrong or he was right or wrong,” he said.