Texas newspaper shreds Greg Abbott's 'outrageous' refusal to fight COVID-19 as deaths mount and economy sputters
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during an anti-abortion rally at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, in this file photo taken July 8, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Stone/Files

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's stubborn refusal to fight back against the coronavirus isn't just endangering lives in his state, he's also hurting the economy.

The Republican governor's refusal to enact pandemic safety measures has cost the state billions of dollars, according to one Texas economist who said Abbott must change course to save lives and the economy, argued the Houston Chronicle editorial board.

"We've got to listen to the doctors and the virologists," said economist Ray Perryman, CEO of the Perryman Group in Waco. "Despite these concerns, there has been massive resistance by policymakers to sensible and basic protective measures, such as appropriate masking requirements and measures to encourage higher vaccination rates."

Perryman estimates that Texas is losing $186,000 a year for each person out of work due to the pandemic, with possible losses up to nearly $13.4 billion per year -- yet Abbott continues pandering to his party's recalcitrant right wing.

"Last year, after the shutdown-induced precipitous economic drop in the first few weeks of the pandemic, Texas opened up more than some states but still had capacity restrictions and a mask mandate," the editorial board wrote. "In 2020, Abbott mostly acted responsibly, charting a middle course. Now, as the Republican primary next Spring inches closer, each week seemingly brings another outrageous decision to refuse simple strategies that will get us through."

The board wasn't asking for the return of broad shutdowns and restrictions, but rather some common-sense measures to limit transmission of the highly contagious and potentially deadly delta variant.

"Being responsible about Texas' COVID response doesn't mean a state-mandated shutdown, which is indeed harmful to the economy," the board wrote. "At this point, we've learned a lot about this virus. We know which simple protocols can stop the spread. We just have to use them."