Despite Gov. Greg Abbott’s issuing an executive order earlier this week to reopen Texas, other elected officials are cautioning against a rush to abandon measures that have “proved to be successful in dealing with COVID.”
During a visit to the Fair Park Vaccination Site in Dallas Friday afternoon, U.S. Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Marc Veasey (TX-33 ), and Colin Allred (TX-32) discussed the challenges of getting the COVID-19 vaccination to citizens and their opposition to ending statewide COVID-19 restrictions.
The lawmakers were adamant that any efforts to lessen restrictions are premature and could be devastating. They toured the area to observe the process as hundreds of cars lined up to enter the Fair Grounds.
There were traffic jams in all directions, but uneventful as the lines moved fairly quickly.
With the heavy presence of members of the Military, Coast Guard, police and fire departments, County and City officials, and FEMA staffers on site, there was a visual of what appeared to be a smooth operation, but workers said a lot of coordination went into providing a process that was not foreboding and overwhelming.
According to Rep. Johnson, who has toured the megasite previously, the initial set-up was not as organized. With folks having to park and walk long distances only to have some turned away because they were out of vaccines for the day, well, it was somewhat frustrating.
While many concerns have been expressed about hiccups in the system, Marva Sneed found the process was seamless for her on Friday.
“It went so quickly,” she said. “Even though I had heard several stories about issues, didn’t have any problem. I was in and out in no time and I feel fine.”
And that was good news for workers, and elected officials; along with the announcement that at least 1 million doses of the vaccine are scheduled to arrive in Texas next week.
“We realize there are numerous concerns,” said Rep. Allred, adding that just as it is important to keep wearing masks and follow proven protocols, steps have to be taken to make the process easy for citizens. “This is our federal support at work. We have active duty military here helping out with the public health officials.”
Citing her background as a nurse and referencing her age, Rep. Johnson said it is important to “follow the science” instead of “politicians who are making poor decisions for political reasons.”
“I’m old and this is a hot spot,” said Rep. Johnson, who blasted efforts to relax restrictions. “It doesn’t make sense to stop using a mask in the middle of this pandemic! I really do not want people to subject themselves to a virus that is still killing people just because the governor said you can take off the mask.”
Clergy And Other Lawmakers Express Concern
Even members of the clergy are using their “influencer” status to encourage their congregants to get the virus and to also continue wearing a mask.
In a promo for Parkland Hospital, Rev. Dr. Tommy Brown, of New Mount Zion Baptist Church said, “As the pastor of a church, I have to serve so many people and be in so many different locations. I thought it best to protect myself and my family by getting vaccinated.”
Rep. Veasey, who will be participating in a town hall meeting on Sunday, March 7, 2021, said the government is planning to help people affected by the Coronavirus regarding healthcare, job loss, unemployment and the pending stimulus package.
“The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the existing health care disparities that face low-income communities,” he said in recent statement.
Rep. Veasey’s message is similar to that of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price who has been working to ensure fair and equitable distribution of services and vaccines; while also educating his constituents on information as quickly as it becomes available.
“Since the introduction of the Pfizer vaccine, I have been inundated with questions from people in this community and frankly across the country,” Price said. “The doubt and skepticism around this issue concerns me.”
In addition to encouraging citizens to register and take the vaccine at their earliest opportunity, Price said he will focus on dispelling and dismissing some of the misinformation and conspiracy theories surrounding the issue.
While coming short of criticizing the governor, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, on pretty much the same line as other elected officials, issued a statement, “The people of Dallas should continue to mask up and take precautions to slow COVID-19’s spread and mutations. We are getting closer to achieving herd immunity, and now is not the time to let down our guard. Vaccines, masks, and social distancing are the best tools we have for fighting this virus, which has claimed far too many lives in the last year.”
The mayor went even further during a news conference on Thursday at the City’s newest vaccination site, The Potter’s House, in Southwest Dallas County. He said he would be issuing an emergency regulation requiring face coverings inside all city buildings.
Although there are exceptions, the mayor’s regulation, passed on March 4, 2021 and will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 10, 2021 — the same time as the Governor’s executive order (GA-34) to reopen Texas.