U.S.|Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas tested positive for the coronavirus.
- Aug. 17, 2021, 5:11 p.m. ET
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday,though he has no symptoms, the governor’s office announced.
An ardent opponent of mask and vaccine mandates, Mr. Abbott has taken his opposition to such requirements all the way to the state Supreme Court. He will now be isolated in the Governor’s Mansion while receiving medical treatment.
“The Governor has been testing daily, and today was the first positive test result,” the statement said. “Governor Abbott is in constant communication with his staff, agency heads, and government.”
Vaccinations in Texas lag behind those of many other states, and coronavirus deaths are rising, though far more slowly than in prior waves, given that 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 as of Monday, an increase of 53 percent from two weeks earlier, according to a New York Times database.
Mr. Abbott has faced withering criticism as coronavirus cases have increased sharply in Texas and available intensive-care beds have dwindled in Austin and other cities. But he maintained his ban on mask mandates, which prohibits local officials from imposing restrictions in their communities.
Fear and frustration over the course of the pandemic in Texas, the nation’s second most populous state, come as schools are preparing to reopen, raising worries about further spread of the virus.
Last month, responding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issuing new guidance recommending that fully vaccinated people did not need to wear a mask indoors in high-risk areas, Mr. Abbott doubled down in the opposite direction. He issued an executive order that prohibited local governments and state agencies from mandating vaccines, and reaffirmed previous decisions to prohibit local officials from mandating masks.
The governor also affirmed that schools could not enact mask mandates for students, a move that some public health experts warned could lead to another surge in cases.
Late on Friday, after Governor Abbott’s ban suffered at least three legal setbacks, the state attorney general, Ken Paxton, said he was taking the issue to the State Supreme Court. The setbacks were in areas with Democratic leaders, rampant coronavirus cases and rising hospitalizations.
The State Supreme Court then sided with the state on Sunday, granting a request for an emergency stay of the appellate court ruling that would have allowed schools to make face coverings mandatory.