To the Texas GOP, “Freedom of Choice” During a Pandemic Means the Freedom to Die for Profit

In Texas, we now have the dubious distinction of having joined the six other states with over 100,000 COVID-19 cases. In Texas, like in many other GOP controlled states, our Governor and Lt. Governor took their cues on how to respond to COVID-19, not from health experts but from the political whims of Donald Trump, who proved to have a questionable grasp on how the disease worked when he suggested injecting disinfectant and using UV light to cure patients of COVID-19.

Today in Texas, thousands of new cases are being reported daily. Hospitals in Houston and across the state are at near capacity. Adult COVID-19 patients are being transferred to Texas children’s hospitals to meet the exploding healthcare crisis in Harris County, the state’s most populous region. On June 26, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) was forced to backpedal on his promise that Texas was going to remain “wide open for business.” And he shut-down bars and reduced seating at restaurants, just five weeks after he allowed them to reopen.

I am lucky. I’m able to keep working from home, but both of my parents have lost their regular income and are struggling to get by in the new COVID-19 reality. Before COVID-19 my parents lived below the poverty line. My 62 year-old diabetic mom, who doesn’t have more than an ninth grade education, worked as a Spanish language interpreter at a hospital.  When COVID-19 began spreading, she quit her job. For her going to work literally became a life or death choice. My dad ran a small fair trade business selling jewelry from Mexico, last year he personally made $18,000. Now, both my parents get their food from local pantries and food banks.

Yet, my life did change dramatically post COVID-19, because two weeks before Texas shut down on March 19, I was crisscrossing the state running as a progressive in in the Democratic primary for the Senate, talking to voters about the economic pain they were already living before COVID-19  (in a 12-way race I missed making it into the run off by 1.5%)

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