Governor Abbott to Texans: Go get your flu shot as early as possible this year

Governor Abbott has his hands full trying to encourage Texans to help mitigate the coronavirus outbreak. Now he has a new directive for Texans- go get a flu shot as soon as possible. The coronavirus pandemic and the regular flu season are about to meet head-on.

As of now, key indications of the coronavirus outbreak in Texas are trending in the right direction, according to Governor Abbott. Thursday he spoke to reporters after a closed-door roundtable discussion about the flu season with top health and medical officials and state lawmakers at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Both positivity rates in coronavirus testing and hospitalizations are down and that is good news. He wants to get out in front of the flu season, which is fast approaching. The governor is warning against complacency about the flu while the coronavirus is still with us. Hospitalizations for flu patients will strain resources like PPE supplies as well as hospital beds. If possible, Abbott recommends Texans get a flu shot in September in order to make sure hospitals do not reach capacity with both flu and COVID-19 patients. Symptoms of the flu and the coronavirus are often similar.

“We know that the flu season is coming up. And if flu season this coming year were as severe as it was last year on top of the pandemic of COVID-19, that could pose substantial challenges for your hospitals, as well as for your PPE supplies,” Abbott said.

“For a doctor, the symptoms of flu and COVID19 are very similar,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt with the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

Medical experts say the continued use of face masks, good hand hygiene and social distancing practices for COVID-19 could also help curb the spread of the flu. Many North Texans can get the flu vaccine for free.

“Our health department offers the vaccine, and we do the best we can to go into neighborhoods and offer flu drives,” Abbott said.

Addressing the timing of school openings as the state deals with the current coronavirus outbreak and anticipates flu season, the governor expressed more concern over what students do outside of school than how they manage during school hours. Specifically, he warned against kids gathering together after school.

“As students depart school for the day, they must maintain the very safest practices as they go home and do not gather in these different types of locations that will lead to a spread of COVID-19,” he said.

Abbott is confident schools will be ready for the fall semester but said districts do need to be ready to move from in-person to online learning if there is a localized COVID-19 outbreak.

“School districts get to make their own decision and they get to take in the advice of local public health authorities as well as state and national health authorities. And then in addition to that, they can provide either an in-classroom setting, a remote learning setting or a combination of the two instilling the safest practice possible,” he said.

As Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt said Texas must sustain the downward trend in the coronavirus outbreak, Governor Abbott pointed to the “almost uniformly” adopted practices of wearing face masks and social distancing. He warned against holding family gatherings which “keep surfacing as a spreading event for COVID-19.”

Governor Abbott did go out on a limb as he sounded overly-optimistic about the arrival of therapeutic drugs and even a vaccine for the coronavirus. It sounds more like wishful thinking than reality, as I don’t think anyone expects a vaccine to be available for the coronavirus as early as November.

“Pretty soon, maybe as soon as September, there will be therapeutic drugs that people will be able to take who test positive for COVID-19 and then we keep seeing these news stories about the acceleration of vaccines potentially becoming available maybe as early as November. And when vaccines start becoming available, it will mean that we will be able to build up the sense of herd immunity,” Abbott said.

A widow’s despair over her husband’s death due to the coronavirus went viral this week. She blames President Trump and Governor Abbott for his death. She wrote her husband’s obituary and included her criticism of Trump and Abbott in it. And she blames people who don’t wear face masks. She said her husband did everything that was recommended to prevent catching the virus. “Shame on all of you, and may Karma find you all!”

Stacey Nagy wrote a 6-paragraph eulogy in Texas’ Jefferson Jimplecute to her 79-year-old husband David who passed away on July 22. The obituary has now gone viral.

“David’s death was needless,” Nagy wrote. “They blame his death and the deaths of all other innocent people on Trump, Abbott and all of the other politicians who did not take this pandemic seriously and were concerned with their popularity more than votes.”

Nagy wrote that others are also to blame for the rampant spread of COVID-19–those who believe it is “their right” to not wear masks.

“Also to blame are the many ignorant, self centered and selfish people who refused to follow the advice of the medical professionals, believing their ‘right’ not to wear a mask was more important than killing innocent people,” Nagy wrote.

I feel for her and won’t jump on her for expressing her grief as she does. However, I will point out that by her own admission, her husband was 79 years old when he died and he had underlying conditions – including diabetes, heart problems, and early signs of dementia. She told BuzzFeed News her husband didn’t like it when she talked about politics. The obituary was published in the local newspaper and also on Facebook.

Her husband suffered a fall and had to be hospitalized. Then he was placed in a nursing home for further recovery. The coronavirus lockdown went into effect while he was in the nursing home. That is where he died. We know that nursing homes are particularly hard-hit with deaths from the coronavirus. As I said, I feel for her in her grief but it looks like they did all they could do to prevent the virus. To blame the president and governor is a stretch. It looks as though the original Facebook post has been taken down. She found lots of support on social media.