Wednesday, June 10, 2020

What's Wrong With Texas?

They be some COVID-19 cowboys in Texas.  Texans were early adopters of the Great Reopening of America, once again proving that big hats do not equal big brains.  If I were modeling these styles, I would look equally as sheepish as this man does.

Here's a hint: Texas is doomed.

Thee Optimist has spent some time in Texas.  

No, he wasn't impressed.  They don't like Thee Optimist's kind in Texas.  But that's okay, he doesn't have to live there. 

He is interested in Texas these days, however, and is watching the state closely.  You might want to do the same.    

See, because Texas is a conservative state, generally speaking, and it reopened its economy - after closing it because of the COVID-19 crisis - earlier than most other states.

The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, is a big-jawed Republican moron, and a wheelchair-bound (I almost said "walking") series of contradictions that I don't like to think about.  

Maybe we'll talk about Abbott another time.  But right now, the important thing to know is Abbott began Phase 1 of Texas's reopening on April 28.

This was after two weeks of declining new cases, as outlined in President Chump's Plan to Destroy America, or whatever it was called.  

So how is Texas doing now?

Chart of decrease in COVID-19 cases heading into the reopening of Texas, followed by the inexorable growth of new cases since the reopening.  Chart courtesy

Not Good

The above chart illustrates how the situation is playing out.  

(By the way, if you're interested in following the progress of COVID-19 as it kills off hundreds of thousands of Americans, you can always click here.)

What the chart shows is that for a large, very populous state, Texas had a relatively mild coronavirus outbreak during the spring.  On April 9, it reached a peak of 1,361 new cases.

Eighteen days later, after steadily declining days of new cases, there were 535 new cases on April 27, the day before Phase 1 of the reopening began.

535 is still quite a few new cases.  But to be fair, Texas followed the federal guidelines to the letter.  They had more than two weeks of steadily declining new cases.  

Since April 28, the number of new cases has been on a relentless upward march.  The most recent peak was 2,080 cases on June 5 (uh, scratch that) 2,437 new cases on June 10 (scratch that one, too) an astonishing 4,413 new cases on June 16, more than three times the original April 9 peak.  

At least 14 days have seen more new cases than the April 9 peak.  And seemingly every day, the state reaches a new record in COVID-19 hospitalizations.  

* * *

“Pretty much all the numbers are moving in the wrong direction at this point.” 

- Dr. David Persse, Health Department Director, City of Houston.

* * *

Since May 18, when Phase 2 began (and barbershops, salons, bars and gyms were allowed to reopen) the surge has been most pronounced. 

Texas is the canary in the coal mine.  It now has one of the fastest growing COVID-19 outbreaks in the United States, with no let up in sight.  At this point, it is safe to say that Texas's outbreak is spiraling out of control.

In the coal miner days, they used to bring canaries below the surface.  This was because the birds were more vulnerable to toxic gases like carbon monoxide than the miners themselves.  If a canary dropped dead, the miners knew it was time to get out of the mine.

What Does All of This Mean?

People often say to me, "Patches, don't you think this whole coronavirus thing has been overblown?"

That all depends.  

Was the Korean War overblown?  Was the Vietnam War overblown?  

That black obsidian Vietnam War memorial, with the names of 58,000 dead Americans etched into it, which at times leaves visitors weeping abjectly... is that thing overblown?

See, because here's a funny fact about the coronavirus.  It has killed more Americans in less than three months (since March 15, let's say), than every war since 1950, combined.

Yes.  Korea + Vietnam + all the little Central American dirty wars of the 1980s + the Gulf War + the Iraq War + the War in Afghanistan, combined, have killed just under 100,000 Americans.  

13 years of fighting in Vietnam (1962 - 1975) killed about half as many Americans as COVID-19 has since March.  I'm not kidding.

Your government has botched the coronavirus response unspeakably.  The USA has the worst COVID-19 response in the world, by a lot.  Brazil will probably pass us eventually, but for now, we're even worse than basket case Brazil.

Now, the American federal government, and state governments, intend to compound the error by moving on as though the disease is no longer happening.

It is happening.  

The disease is still spreading, and it is killing people.  What is going on in Texas is early warning about what will happen when all the states return to business as usual.

And seemingly, everyone is just going to allow this without a squeak of protest.



  1. Glad to see Thee Optimist is posting again. You said one line that I haven't seen anywhere else but I have strongly felt for the past three months: "Your government has botched the coronavirus response unspeakably." I believe that will be the primary judgment of history when people look back at this period of time.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. We are the worst in the world in terms of coronavirus response. I am beginning to think we are the Soviet Union circa 1989.