Texas Doctors Say 'Governor Abbott Has Failed Us' Amid COVID Surge in Schools

Some doctors in Texas, concerned about the state's ban on mask and vaccine mandates, urged holding state leaders accountable for COVID deaths as cases surge.

"Governor [Greg] Abbott has failed us. A Republican state legislature has failed us," said David Portugal, a cardiologist in Sugarland, Texas, during a Committee to Protect Health Care webinar calling for state leaders' attention, Houston Public Media reported on Friday. "These leaders should be held accountable and be asked to explain how they can justify taking actions that are killing their fellow Texans."

Portugal said that Abbott and Republican lawmakers are standing in the way of protecting children in schools against COVID.

"Governor Abbott and Republican legislatures are preventing local schools and communities from implementing these most cost-effective safeguards that can protect children, protect our neighbors, protect our loved ones, and these are simply masks and vaccinations," he said, according to NewsWest9.

As of Friday, total child COVID cases in Texas schools reached 51,904, according to the Texas Department of Health latest data.

About 8.5 percent of the state's 1,247 public school districts have mask mandates, including five of the state's largest school districts that make up over 10 percent of Texas' 5.4 million students.

Portugal and other doctors, including members of the Committee to Protect Health Care, called on Abbott to reverse the ban on mask and vaccine mandates amid the rise of COVID cases in schools and the state's burdened health care system.

“‘It is a human issue. Texas physicians and public health officials are trying to take the lead and protect its patients but Governor Abbott and the Republican legislature is getting in the way,’ Dr. Portugal said.”https://t.co/D1W2pJm3m0

— Committee to Protect Health Care (@cmteetoprotect) September 3, 2021

"Hospital staff and resources are stretched to the breaking point," said Elena Jimenez-Gutierrez, an internal medicine physician in San Antonio, according to Houston Public Media. "Doctors and other health care workers see every day how too many Texans are needlessly getting sick, including many children when we know this disease can be prevented."

There are currently a total of 322 available staffed ICU beds statewide, according to Texas Department of Health data, and 7,390 available staffed hospital beds.

According to Houston Public Media, the governor's office has been trying to help hospitals by bringing in more doctors and nurses from out of Texas. More monoclonal antibody treatment centers have been authorized, but doctors said that it could take as long as 10 days to receive the treatment.

"Among Texas children who are eligible, the seven-day moving average of doses administered has gone from just over 10,500 in July to now over 15,700," said Renae Eze, the governor's press secretary, according to the outlet.

Newsweek contacted Eze, the Committee to Protect Healthcare, and the Texas Health Department for comments but didn't immediately receive a response.

Erin Amjadi, a family physician, said that she and other doctors are "pleading with Governor Abbott and Legislators in Austin to support strategies that can help get more people vaccinated and wearing masks."

"This vulnerable and unable-to-get-vaccinated population is depending on us to protect them, and the current Texas administration is doing everything but that," Amjadi said, according to KCEN-TV.

Overall Texas has 13,757 COVID inpatients as of Saturday, according to the Texas Department of Health. This includes 3,817 in ICU beds and 292 children in hospitals.

Texas doctors disappointed in state leaders
Some Texas doctors voiced their concerns about the ban on mask mandates and said state officials should be held accountable for COVID deaths. Above, a woman with suspected COVID is given oxygen before transport to a hospital on August 20 in Houston. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images