EL PASO, Texas -- Former El Paso congressman and prominent Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke called on Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to resign, saying his handling of the coronavirus pandemic to date has been "pathetic."
O'Rourke made his comments in a Monday night twitter post following an Abbott interview with a Beaumont TV station in which the governor rejected calls by local leaders across the state for the power to institute "stay at home" orders as hospital capacities near a crisis level. (You can watch Abbott's remarks in the video player at the top of this article.)
Hospitalizations across Texas have more than doubled in the last two weeks, rising to a record 8,698 people in hospitals on Monday. Hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley are at capacity - and the mayors of Austin, San Antonio and Houston say they are just days away from also reaching that point.
Abbott, who had pushed Texas’ aggressive reopening of the state economy, maintained empowering cities to go into lockdown mode would only "force Texans into poverty."
The governor, who issued a mandatory statewide mask order last week after strongly refusing the idea previously, said if local leaders would simply enforce the mask mandate - the virus could be slowed without the need for shutdowns.
"They ask for more and more, but do absolutely nothing," Abbott complained of some mayors and county judges. "They just now need to step up and begin to enforce the orders that are already in place."
A seemingly miffed O'Rourke responded tersely in a late-night tweet:
"Abbott opens Texas too soon, issues mask order too late, denies local leaders authority to contain the virus — causing uncontrolled covid spread, many hospitalized & soon dead because of his negligence — and then blames local officials? Pathetic. Resign."
Abbott opens Texas too soon, issues mask order too late, denies local leaders authority to contain the virus — causing uncontrolled covid spread, many hospitalized & soon dead because of his negligence — and then blames local officials? Pathetic. Resign. https://t.co/UjKxKxfdQm— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) July 7, 2020