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San Antonio mayor says Abbott shows 'callous disregard for life' by tying cities' hands on COVID 

click to enlarge Mayor Ron Nirenberg, shown here in a file photo, and County Judge Nelson Wolff recently asked Gov. Greg Abbott for more leeway to implement local COVID-19 regulations. - SANFORD NOWLIN
  • Sanford Nowlin
  • Mayor Ron Nirenberg, shown here in a file photo, and County Judge Nelson Wolff recently asked Gov. Greg Abbott for more leeway to implement local COVID-19 regulations.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg harshly condemned Gov. Greg Abbott for issuing an executive that further strips local governments of tools they say are needed to combat the state's rapid resurgence of COVID-19.

Abbott's order, issued Thursday, bars governmental entities from requiring anyone to obtain a "COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization.” It also strips local governments of their ability to cut business capacity if COVID-19 hospitalizations exceeded 15% of a region's total hospital beds for seven days in a row.

“It is tragically ironic that Gov. Abbott continues his emergency order but has taken away the tools for us to mitigate that very emergency," Nirenberg said in an emailed statement. “The governor has shown a callous disregard for life and safety in defiance of clear medical guidance and is risking the safety of our children and the recovery of our economy."

The Republican governor's order came days after San Antonio and Bexar County sent his office a letter seeking guidance on the legality of requiring city workers to become fully vaccinated. In a statement, Abbott said his executive order signifies that the state's path forward "relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates.”

That order also reiterates an earlier mandate of his that governmental entities, including public schools, can't require face masks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week strongly recommended that everyone, vaccinated or not, wear masks in indoor public spaces.

Nirenberg also noted that Abbott's office has yet to respond to a request by the city and county for aid for local hospitals as they grapple with a sharp rise in COVID-19 patients. As of Wednesday, 695 people were in Bexar County hospitals being treated for the virus, a 400% increase since mid-June.

“A week ago, we requested assistance to help the seriously overwhelmed hospitals and medical system, and we haven’t heard a response,” Nirenberg said.

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