A Working-Class Perspective on the COVID Crisis in Texas

Lufkin, Texas, a part of Angelina County, where over 2,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported

By: Ian Cox, Red Phoenix Correspondent Texas

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last year Texas has seen a total of 3.22 million confirmed cases with a death toll of over 53,000 as of the beginning of August 2021. Texas Governor Gregg Abbott has made the news a lot in the past several months as a stern opponent of mask and vaccines mandates, instead opting to make Texas’s pandemic response a personal responsibility stating that it is “past the time of government mandates.” All of this comes as Texas has seen many severe spikes in the last several weeks amounting to over 20,000 cases a day as the Delta variant of the virus makes its way through the general population. 

Abbott’s rejection of any type of government response is his way of saying that the bourgeois state is washing its hands of the pandemic and putting the burden of surviving the crisis on the working-class. Grocery Store worker James Hancock (25) of San Marcos, Texas said that if “Abbott were stronger on mask and vaccines mandates maybe we wouldn’t have seen such a high amount of death.” James went on to add that “the vaccine rollout was passable in some aspects but was severely lacking overall. For example, minority communities have not had the same access to the vaccine as other communities and Abbot hasn’t done enough to counteract misinformation about the vaccines.” In fact his total rejection of a full vaccine rollout plays into the growth of disinformation and distrust in the vaccine, which is an issue that has greatly affected the population of Texas. 

“We contacted COVID during the massive freeze that we had at the start of 2021.. This left us without electricity, warm water, and other daily necessities that we needed to take care of ourselves while we were sick.”

Sister and brother K.O. Ray (24) and Jordan Ray (21) of Lufkin, Texas, a bakery and warehouse worker respectively, both contracted the COVID-19 virus in early 2021 during the historic freeze in Texas which was another crisis that Abbot was quick to shift onto the backs of the working and exploited peoples. K.O. Ray said that “they tell you COVID is like the flu, that is a lie. It is way worse. Trying to take a deep breath was excruciating and made it feel like ten pounds of weight had been added to my chest. My body ached and simply walking around my house was an exhaustingly painful task. I could never catch my breath.” Jordan Ray said that “I luckily didn’t have it as bad as my sister but we caught it at the worst possible time. We contacted COVID during the massive freeze that we had at the start of 2021.. This left us without electricity, warm water, and other daily necessities that we needed to take care of ourselves while we were sick.” Both K.O. and Jordan both stated that they were lucky enough to have insurance when they got sick and wouldn’t have been able to care for themselves properly otherwise. They both agreed that the pandemic showed the need for not only Texas but the whole US to reconstruct its healthcare system. Jordan continued by saying that “in Texas, and in the US our healthcare system is built to make money, not to take care of people. If we wouldn’t have been lucky enough to have insurance at that moment there is no telling what would have happened. We need a healthcare system that puts human life above all else.” 

All three workers interviewed agreed that Governor Abbott isn’t doing enough. The people of Texas need “rent freezes, more government aid, and a vaccine mandate so we can curb the spread of the virus” said James Hancock. 

Something has to change, and the voices of the working-class, those most affected by this crisis, need to not only be heard but they need to be the leading force in the response to the pandemic. Anything less is a crime. 

Governor Abbott and many other leading figures in Texas like Senator Ted Cruz are proving themselves to be incompetent leaders who do not care for or represent the interests of the working-class here in Texas. Especially with their push to return to normal as fast as possible, regardless of the human cost. With the lack of sustainable government response by the state of Texas and the spread of the Delta variant growing more people will continue to contract and die from COVID-19 especially as most school children will be returning to school this month with the absence of mask and vaccines mandates. The bourgeois state in Texas, as with the rest of the US, and the world for that matter is daily proving itself more incapable of bringing us all of this pandemic safely. Something has to change, and the voices of the working-class, those most affected by this crisis, need to not only be heard but they need to be the leading force in the response to the pandemic. Anything less is a crime. 



Categories: Interview, U.S. News

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