TEXAS — As the delta COVID-19 variant rages throughout the country, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is in lockstep with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other Republican governors in opposition to mask and vaccine mandates.
Cruz said he is introducing legislation that would block vaccine passports, mask mandates and vaccine mandates nationwide. He made the announcement Monday on Fox News.
"There should be no mandates — zero — concerning COVID. That means no mask mandates, regardless of your vaccination status, that means no vaccine mandates, that means no vaccine passports,” Cruz said.
Cruz said such mandates violate freedom of choice.
“They (Democrats) do not respect your liberty. They do not respect your right to make your choices about your health care, about your children, about your lives,” he said.
By executive order, Gov. Abbott has banned agencies that receive state dollars from enacting mask and vaccine mandates. That includes school districts, although large districts including Austin ISD and Dallas ISD have instituted mask policies in defiance of Abbott. Houston ISD, the state’s largest district, is set to vote on a mask mandate later this week.
At the same time, Abbott is asking for out-of-state help as the virus surges in the state and more than 9,000 Texans remain hospitalized with the disease.
Abbott has directed the Texas Department of State Health Services to use staffing agencies to find additional medical staff from beyond the state’s borders as the delta wave began to overwhelm its present staffing resources. He also has sent a letter to the Texas Hospital Association to request that hospitals postpone all elective medical procedures voluntarily.
Abbott also directed the state health department and the Texas Division of Emergency Management to open additional COVID-19 antibody infusion centers to treat patients not needing hospital care and expand COVID-19 vaccine availability to the state’s underserved communities. He also announced that about $267 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food benefits. That was on top of the $3.9 billion in benefits previously allocated since April 2020.
The rolling two-week daily average of new COVID-19 cases has increased by 165% to 8,533, according to Johns Hopkins University research data. About 45% of the state’s population has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Texas Department of State Health Services on Monday reported 2,386 new cases of COVID-19, eight additional fatalities attributed to the virus and 9,462 current hospitalizations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.