SAN ANTONIO — Reflecting the political friction which defined a large part of the official response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg blasted Texas's latest executive order limiting local governments' ability to implement mandates to combat the recent surge in infections.
In his announcement Thursday afternoon, Governor Greg Abbott asserted that wearing masks and deciding to get vaccinated is a personal right and responsibility which cannot be mandated by city or county leaders. It also bars local governments from implementing mandates even in places where hospitals are particularly overwhelmed by coronavirus patients.
Nirenberg responded a few hours later, saying it was "tragically ironic that Gov. Abbott continues his emergency order but has taken away the tools for us to mitigate that very emergency."
“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," Nirenberg's statement continued. "A week ago, we requested assistance to help the seriously overwhelmed hospitals and medical system, and we haven’t heard a response.”
The mayor also tweeted Thursday evening another plea to San Antonio's unvaccinated population.
It was a common sight during Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff's daily COVID-19 response briefings for the local leaders to criticize Abbott's handling of the pandemic.
On Wednesday, Nirenberg, flanked by local health authorities, said he and Wolff would be sending another letter to Abbott requesting the ability to enforce face-mask use among government employees, as well as allowing schools to mandate mask use with the new semester on the horizon.
The latest coronavirus figures released by Metro Health Thursday show the recent trends continue to worsen. The seven-day moving average of new cases jumped to 724 (up from 539 on Tuesday) while more than 2,300 new cases were reported in the past 48 hours.
Nearly 700 COVID-19 patients were in local hospitals Thursday, with 195 of those in intensive care.