Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who banned mask mandates in schools and businesses and aggressively reopened even as COVID-19 was spreading unchecked across the state, has now tested positive for the virus himself.
A statement put out by Abbott’s office Tuesday afternoon announced that the governor has a breakthrough infection of COVID. The Republican governor has repeatedly downplayed the seriousness of the virus and gone so far as to sue municipalities and school districts that have defied him on mask mandates and other restrictions related to the pandemic.
Abbott was one of the first Texas officials to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, in December, according to local station KXAN. The governor is now in quarantine and asymptomatic, according to the release.
“Governor Greg Abbott today tested positive for the COVID-19 virus,” the statement reads. “The Governor has been testing daily, and today was the first positive test result. Governor Abbott is in constant communication with his staff, agency heads, and government officials to ensure that state government continues to operate smoothly and efficiently.
The statement added that the governor is receiving Regeneron's monoclonal antibody treatment.
Abbott’s wife, Cecilia Abbott, tested negative for the virus on Tuesday.
Less than a day before the governor tested positive, he spoke at an indoor event for supporters, with video of the gathering showing hundreds of attendees packed into a banquet room, not one seen wearing a mask.
And it’s not just Abbott who’s downplayed the virus—many Texas Republicans have scoffed at mask mandates, including Sen. Ted Cruz, who has vehemently opposed pandemic mandates of any kind, including both mask and vaccines.
Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates was crushed in courts last week when a pair of Texas judges effectively blocked them from going into effect in San Antonio and Dallas.
Texas has been hit exceptionally hard by the virus—it’s the state with the second-most infections in the country, only beat by California. As of Tuesday afternoon, COVID-19 had killed 54,400 people in the state, according to CNN.
The Delta variant is surging across the United States: On Monday there was a seven-day average of 115,000 new cases nationwide, the highest average number of cases since January, when vaccines were not yet widely available, according to the Washington Post.