Look, we really want to think that Gov. Greg Abbott is on the right track on some things — like the Texas economy — but he seems determined to continually do and say really dumb things. The latest? Abbott said Texas is nearing herd immunity when it comes to warding off the coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s the thing about Greg Abbott that we appreciate — he has shown some leadership when it comes to the pandemic. The keyword here is some. This is not one of those moments.
“More than 70% of our seniors have received a vaccine shot,” Abbott said Sunday on Fox News. “More than 50% of those who are 60 to 65 have received a vaccine shot. I don’t know what herd immunity is but when you add that to acquired immunity, it looks like that could be very close to herd immunity,”
OK, let’s be clear: Texas is not near herd immunity. What that means, is that enough people have been infected or vaccinated to ensure that there will be a limited transmission of COVID-19. There were some who argued that we should have just let it happen naturally, but most scientists and public health officials agreed that number was somewhere around 70% of the population either having the virus or being vaccinated against it.
Where do we stand now?
Texas has had 2.4 million people contract the virus since last year, while about 5.7 million have now been fully vaccinated. Any way you spin it, Texas has not reached herd immunity and it’s unclear if we will ever reach it because there are so many unknowns with COVID-19.
Here’s what some experts said about our governor’s suggestion.
“There is no way on God’s green earth that Texas is anywhere even close to herd immunity,” University of Minnesota epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm told the New York Times. Osterholm is one of the nation’s leading experts on communicable diseases.
Interestingly, Abbott made the comment to Fox News’s Chris Wallace, who masterfully bludgeoned both Abbott and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg over the head in the same show on not being truthful about facts. Wallace did toss Abbott a softball in the form of “do you think you’ve reached herd immunity?” Abbott, of course, said yes.
Unless you’re Ted Nugent, who doesn’t believe the numbers are real, COVID-19 has proven to be a lethal killer and has sickened millions. That no one should question. In his rush to push the pandemic aside, Abbott continues to shirk his duty to protect those who need to be protected — which is every Texan.
The simple answer should have been: “Well, Chris we think we can get there in the coming weeks because we’re starting to make really good progress with vaccinations. We’re not exactly where I want to us be but I have great confidence in the remarkable health care systems here in the great state of Texas.”
Is it really that hard to be truthful about the reality of COVID-19? For a lot of people yes.
Once again, pesky facts are the problem here and if we didn’t have a vaccine we’d be nowhere close to herd immunity. The reality is that if 70% of Texans contracted the virus we’d be looking at a very bleak set of numbers — far greater than the more than 48,000 Texans who have already lost their lives to the coronavirus.