Texas Governor Greg Abbott tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday, though he has no symptoms, the governor’s office announced.
Abbott, a staunch opponent of mask and vaccine mandates, has taken his opposition to such requirements to the state Supreme Court. He will now be isolated in the Governor’s House while receiving medical treatment.
“The governor has tested daily and today was the first positive test result,” the statement said. “Governor Abbott is in constant contact with his staff, heads of agencies and the government.”
Vaccinations in Texas are lagging behind many other states, and coronavirus deaths are rising, albeit much more slowly than in previous waves, as a majority of the state’s oldest and most vulnerable residents are now vaccinated. The state has averaged more than 14,700 new daily cases since Monday, up 53 percent from two weeks earlier, according to a NewsMadura database.
Mr Abbott has faced scathing criticism as the number of coronavirus cases in Texas has soared and available beds in intensive care units in Austin and other cities have declined. But he maintained his ban on mask mandates, which prohibits local officials from imposing restrictions in their communities.
Anxiety and frustration over the course of the pandemic in Texas, the country’s second most populous state, come as schools prepare to reopen, raising concerns about further spread of the virus.
Last month, in response to new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issuing new guidelines recommending that fully vaccinated people in high-risk areas should not wear masks indoors, Abbott went doubly in the opposite direction. He issued an executive order banning local governments and government agencies from mandating vaccines, and confirmed previous decisions to ban local officials from making masks mandatory.
The governor also confirmed that schools could not issue mask mandates for students, a move some public health experts warned could lead to another surge in cases.
Late Friday, after Governor Abbott’s ban suffered at least three legal setbacks, state attorney general Ken Paxton said he was taking the matter to the state’s Supreme Court. The setbacks were in areas with Democratic leaders, rampant coronavirus cases and rising hospital admissions.
The state Supreme Court then sided with the state on Sunday, granting an emergency deferral of the appeals court ruling that would have allowed schools to mandate face coverings.