Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) is lambasting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), along with the state’s Republican lawmakers, as he deemed the Texas Republican Party a “death cult” due to its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
During Tuesday’s interview on MSNBC, O’Rourke expressed concern about the dire coronavirus situation in Texas. He discussed the hurdles Hidalgo county officials and judges are faced with as they attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus in the Rio Grande Valley.
O’Rourke accused Abbott of “choosing to allow people to die as the coronavirus runs rampant in the county.”
“This governor, our governor Greg Abbott, is choosing to allow people to die when he could choose to allow county judges to save their lives,” said O’Rourke.
He later added, “This is one of the most craven, callous failures of leadership that I’ve ever witnessed in my life.”
O’Rourke went on to call out Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) for his previous remarks insisting “there are more important things than living.”
He also noted that most of the minimum wage, frontline jobs in Texas are held by African-American workers, Latinos, and Mexican-American which would put those residents at higher risk of contracting the virus.
O’Rourke criticized Republican leaders’ presumed lack of regard for those residents.
“This is a death cult. The Texas GOP,” O’Rourke said. “Only they want you to do the dying, and that is exactly what’s happening in Texas right now.”
See O’Rourke’s remarks below:
O’Rourke’s remarks come amid what is being described as a “tsunami” of coronavirus cases in Hidalgo County as local and state officials clash over the handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
As COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise, Hidalgo County Health officials reported a single day high record of 49 deaths due to complications related to the novel coronavirus. Another 339 people tested positive today bringing the total number of positive cases to 13,126. pic.twitter.com/SKn5nd2s2t— Hidalgo County (@HidalgoCounty) July 22, 2020
On Sunday, a Health Authority Order was issued by a Hildalgo County Judge Richard Cortez.
Citing the Texas Health and Safety Code Section 81.083, Cortez outlined the severity of the coronavirus spread throughout the county as he made it clear that residents who failed to comply could face criminal prosecution.
HEALTH AUTHORITY ORDER: If you or someone in your house have tested positive for COVID-19, you are hereby ordered to comply with the following requirements. Failure to comply may result in criminal prosecution. pic.twitter.com/p44Fjtjr9q— Hidalgo County (@HidalgoCounty) July 19, 2020
On Monday, Cortez issued a second emergency order for county residents to shelter at home and curfew.
As Emergency Management Director, County Judge Richard F. Cortez signed new county order for all residents & visitors in Hidalgo County. It includes shelter at home, curfew, essential travel limitations and facial coverings requirements.— Hidalgo County (@HidalgoCounty) July 21, 2020
FULL ORDER HERE: https://t.co/ieZ73rR8pB pic.twitter.com/2O4eEiHHTk
However, despite the dire situation the county is facing, the order is unenforceable due to the governor’s statewide order that does not allow local governments to issue their own stay-at-home orders, according to the Texas Tribune. Abbott’s spokesman John Wittman released a statement in response to the order.
“This order has no enforcement mechanism, which makes it simply a recommendation for those to stay home if they can, which Governor Abbott supports,” Wittman said. “However, this order does not force businesses to shut down in the Rio Grande Valley.”
With more than 357,000 known coronavirus cases in Texas, the state is currently facing one of the biggest spikes in coronavirus outbreaks in the United States.