Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has tested positive for covid-19, the Governor’s Office announced on Tuesday afternoon less than a day after attending a campaign event filled with unmasked attendees. The governor, who banned mask mandates in the state even as the Delta variant of the deadly virus spreads, is vaccinated, his office said, and is currently not experiencing symptoms.
“Governor Abbott is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, in good health, and currently experiencing no symptoms,” the Governor’s Office said in a statement. “Everyone that the Governor has been in close contact with today has been notified. Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott tested negative.”
On Monday night, Abbott attended a campaign event at the Republican Club at Heritage Ranch in McKinney, Texas, according to the campaign’s Twitter account. Multiple photos and videos show no person in attendance wearing a mask.
Fortunately for those in attendance, covid-19 vaccinations make those who experience breakthrough infections, like the sort Abbott is apparently experiencing, less likely to spread the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The Washington Post reports that, according to a spokesperson, Abbott is receiving monoclonal antibody treatment made by Regeneron, which is used to treat people with “mild or moderate coronavirus disease,” according to the company.
NBC News, citing two unnamed sources, reports that Abbott has received a third booster shot of the covid-19 vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration has not yet authorized a third shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines, although the Biden administration is reportedly planning to recommend booster shots, provided the FDA approves.
Breakthrough infections of covid-19 are rare, and the vast majority of people hospitalized or killed by covid-19 are unvaccinated. But the breakthrough infection is not what makes Abbott’s case of covid-19 news—it’s his politics and his politicization of the deadly pandemic.
According to Johns Hopkins University, nearly 4.4 million people globally have died of covid-19 since the pandemic began. That includes 623,155 deaths in the U.S. alone, and 54,474 of those were in Texas, as of 6 p.m. ET Tuesday.
Abbott is among Republican governors who have opposed mandatory health safety measures related to covid-19. On July 19, Abbott signed an executive order banning mask mandates and vaccine requirements in the state. After the state’s two largest counties, Dallas and Bexar, challenged the order, the Texas Supreme Court upheld it.
“The new Executive Order emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates,” Abbott said in a statement issued after signing the EO. “Texans have mastered the safe practices that help to prevent and avoid the spread of COVID-19. They have the individual right and responsibility to decide for themselves and their children whether they will wear masks, open their businesses, and engage in leisure activities.”
The governor also noted that the vaccine is the best way to prevent the spread of covid-19, but vowed that “they will always remain voluntary–never forced–in the State of Texas.”
On the day the order was signed, Texas was in the middle of a surge of covid-19 cases, with more than 15,000 new cases recorded on July 29, according to the New York Times. Today, the surge in cases continues in the state, which is experiencing its worst infection rate since early February.