Abbott is responsible


for this latest surge


Re: June 23 article, "Abbott calls coronavirus increase ’unacceptable’ but says Texas won’t shut down."


Our esteemed Gov. Abbott feigns surprise at the huge increase in the spread of COVID-19 in Texas. Not only was this fully predictable — anyone who was paying attention fully expected it — but it is also in a very large part his responsibility.


I wrote a letter to his office and one that was printed in this space in early May with an accurate prediction.


I submit that he knew exactly what would happen, and caused it anyway. If not, then he is both ignorant and arrogant, which is a bad combination in a leader. Sadly, the same can be said about nearly his entire party.


In his honor, I propose we dub this event the "Abbott Surge."


Keith Kreitman, Austin


McConnell is banking


on conservative judges


Re: June 24 commentary, "The question for a higher court than Gorsuch to decide."


Mitch McConnell’s rush to pack the courts with conservative justices, no matter how marginally qualified, reinforces Ross Douthat’s argument about the court’s decision-making process.


Sen. McConnell knows first-hand just how little Congress really does and he is depending on conservative judges to make decisions that Congress is unable or unwilling to make. The president has assumed more and more power as Congress does little to keep him in check. The Supreme Court will assume more and more power because Congress won’t pass any meaningful legislation for our country.


I am sure the founding fathers would not be happy with the current state of affairs.


Judy Daniels, Austin


Abbott must enforce


the wearing of masks


It becomes clearer each day that COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. Case numbers are rising in Texas and other states that have loosened restrictions and reopened businesses, which will result in more deaths.


The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects that we will have close to 180,000 COVID-19 deaths by the end of September.


There are many things we, as responsible citizens, can do to help slow the spread of this terrible disease. In addition to social distancing, one other thing would make a critical difference and save many lives: wearing a mask in public. For some people, doing so may be annoying or an "infringement upon their rights," but it is the ethical, responsible, compassionate thing to do.


How many people must die before Gov. Abbott mandates and enforces the wearing of masks in Texas? I call upon you, governor, to do the right thing.


Mary Schwindt, Cedar Park


A tempest in a teapot?


History says differently.


Sen. John Cornyn seems to have no principles except his own power. He downplays egregious violations of law and principle that would have him demanding the resignations of everyone involved if they occurred under a Democratic president.


On Monday, Cornyn scoffed that outrage over Attorney General William Barr’s politically motivated weekend firing of the Attorney General for the Southern District of New York, Geoff Berman, was another "tempest in a teapot."


History disagrees. In 1973, President Nixon demanded a similar illegal firing. Known as the Saturday Night Massacre, multiple government officials did the right thing by resigning rather than carry out the order. In time, this led to Nixon’s impeachment and resignation.


What’s changed? It’s not the Constitution that senators swear to defend that has changed, it’s the Republicans who take that oath. For Cornyn and his Senate colleagues, a conscience is no longer a job requirement. It’s a liability.


Deborah Beck, Austin


Contact tracing necessary


to stop spread of the virus


Gov. Abbott claims that COVID-19 positive tests are going up because young adults are socializing and not wearing masks.


But Gov. Abbott purposefully excluded two ways he caused increasing COVID-19 cases across the state. He reopened the state before we had reached safe thresholds in Texas and took no steps during the lockdown to stop transmission of the virus.


Stopping transmission requires three essential steps: testing, tracing and treatment. We have focused on increasing testing and making sure there are enough ventilators to treat patients. However, we are missing comprehensive contact tracing. In Massachusetts, where the Contact Tracing Collaborative was launched by a partnership of four groups including Partners in Health and the Massachusetts Department of Health, the rate of new infections dropped to under 400 new cases per day since June 12. In Texas, this number has peaked at over 4,000 new cases.


Gov. Abbott must launch a network of contact tracers to stop transmission of SARS-CoV-2 immediately.


Annum Sadana, Houston