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Timeline of Irresponsibility

The many times Texas' leadership has failed us.

Published onMar 18, 2021
Timeline of Irresponsibility

January 2020

January 21, 2020: First novel coronavirus case detected in the United States of America.1

March 2020

March 4, 2020: First coronavirus case in Texas.2

March 11, 2020: World Health Organization declares COVID-19 pandemic.

March 13, 2020: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declares state of disaster (enabling federal funds to flow to the state) and halts elective surgeries (including abortions).

March 16, 2020: First COVID-19 death in Texas.

March 19, 2020: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issues first coronavirus-related executive order shutting down government and businesses and banning gatherings.3

March 23, 2020: Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick offers to sacrifice Texas seniors to coronavirus in order to reopen the Texas economy.4

April 2020

April 14, 2020: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, under indictment for nearly six years, issues letter to Texas House of Representatives Elections Committee Chair Rep. Stephanie Klick stating his 鈥渦nofficial opinion鈥 that 鈥渇ear of contracting COVID-19 unaccompanied by a qualifying sickness or physical condition does not constitute a disability under the Election Code for purposes of receiving a ballot by mail.鈥5

April 15, 2020: U.S. District Court Judge Tim Sulak rules in favor of allowing all Texans to vote by mail during coronavirus pandemic.

April 17, 2020: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issues executive order announcing establishment of the 45-member Governor鈥檚 Strike Force to Open Texas and the beginning of the first phased reopening of Texas businesses.

April 23, 2020: U.S. President Donald J. Trump suggests people infected with coronavirus get an "injection" of disinfectant as a deterrent to the virus during his daily briefing.6

Cover image of The Governor鈥檚 Report to Open Texas
Image 1

Cover image of The Governor鈥檚 Report to Open Texas

April 27, 2020: Governor鈥檚 Strike Force to Open Texas releases The Governor鈥檚 Report to Open Texas: Texans Helping Texans with health and safety guidelines for individuals, employers, employees, the business sector and low-COVID countries along with celebratory biographies of the business leaders on the strike force and self-congratulatory reprisals of Gov. Abbott鈥檚 (non-)response so far.7

May 2020

May 1, 2020: Texas begins Phase I of reopening.8 Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issues letter to county judges and election officers threatening prosecution for encouraging Texans to vote by mail.9

Image 2

Excerpt from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton鈥檚 letter to county election officials.

May 5, 2020: Audio leaked of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott acknowledging reopening will increase transmission of COVID-19.10

Leaked Audio (Full): Gov. Abbott Knows Reopening Will Cause an Increase in Infection Rate for Texans

May 18, 2020: Texas begins Phase II of reopening.

鈥淥ur goal is to find ways to coexist with COVID-19 as safely as possible.鈥

鈥 Texas Gov. Greg Abbott11

May 19, 2020: U.S. District Judge Fred Biery rules that all state voters regardless of age qualify for a mail-in ballot during the coronavirus pandemic.12

May 27, 2020: Texas Supreme Court opines in official ruling that most Texans won鈥檛 get coronavirus.13

Image 3

Excerpt from Texas Supreme Court opinion.

June 2020

June 3, 2020: Texas begins Phase III of reopening.14

June 25, 2020: Elective surgeries (including abortions) suspended in Texas metros due to coronavirus overloading hospitals.

June 26, 2020: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott reverses reopening state after tremendous increase in coronavirus cases and deaths.

July 2020

July 2, 2020: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott finally issues statewide mask order for counties with over 20 cases of COVID-19.15

August 2020

August 17, 2020: 10,000th Texan dies of COVID-19.

September 2020

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott quietly disbands his Strike Force to Open Texas.16

September 17, 2020: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott begins reopening Texas businesses again.17

October 2020

October 14, 2020: Texas bars allowed to reopen.18

November 2020

November 3, 2020: President Trump fails to win reelection as president but refuses to concede. Texas voter turnout best in nearly three decades.19 Thus explaining Republican attempts to pass voter-suppression legislation in 2021.

November 16, 2020: Texas surpasses 1 million coronavirus cases.

January 2021

January 6, 2021: Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol after a pro-Trump rally, which Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton attended.20

February 2021

February 11, 2021: Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announces plan to penalize environmentally sensitive investors.21

February 13-17, 2021: Winter Storm Uri strikes Texas causing cascading failures of energy and public health infrastructure (gas, electric, water). Death toll: at least 111 people.22 A tally by the Houston Chronicle finds almost double the number of deaths.23

Cost of Texas鈥 2021 Deep Freeze Justifies Weatherization. https://www.dallasfed.org:443/research/economics/2021/0415. Accessed 16 Apr. 2021.

February 17, 2021: Gov. Greg Abbott falsely blames renewable energy for power outages in Texas.24 U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, flies to Cancun, Mexico to escape freezing weather, leaving his constituents (and pet dog) behind.25 Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in Salt Lake City, Utah.26 Republican Texas state Rep. Gary Gates abandons constituents via private jet to Orlando, Florida.27

鈥淭exans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business.鈥

鈥 Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry28

February 18, 2021: At least 3.4 million Texans without power.29

February 19, 2021: 13.5 million Texans experience water disruption.30 Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton still in Salt Lake City, Utah.31

March 2021

March 2, 2021: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lifts statewide mask mandate and 鈥渞eopens Texas 100 percent.鈥32

March 9, 2021: Texas Public Utility Commission Chairman Arthur D鈥橝ndrea, who was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott, tells investors on a Bank of America Securities-hosted call to expect little improvement to the Texas energy grid and that he would attempt to protect their windfall profits from Winter Storm Uri.33 The call was closed to the public and news media and later leaked to Texas Monthly.34

March 10, 2021: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton threatens to sue the city of Austin and Travis County if they don鈥檛 lift requirements for mask-wearing inside local businesses.35

Image of excerpt from letter from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to Austin and Travis County leaders.
Image 4

Excerpt of letter from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to Austin and Travis County leaders.


March 11, 2021: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sues to block聽Austin and Travis County pandemic orders聽requiring employees and customers to wear a face covering in local businesses.36

March 12, 2021: State District Judge Lora Livingston declines Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton鈥檚 request to block Austin mask mandates until a full hearing.37

March 25, 2021: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton refuses to release emails and text messages he sent during the rally in Washington, D.C. that resulted in the January 6th Capitol insurrection.38 U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, refuses to wear mask during press conference.39

Image of an excerpt from Houston Chronicle editorial, March 30, 2021

March 26, 2021: State District Judge Lora Livingston rules against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and in favor of allowing Austin鈥檚 mask mandate to continue.40

March 29, 2021: President Joe Biden urges states to reinstate and/or continue mask mandates.41

April 2021

April 1, 2021: Republicans in the Texas Senate pass voter-suppression legislation.42 Senate Bill 7 would:

  • Limit early voting to the hours of 6 AM to 9 PM (thus making it more difficult for shift workers and others on non-9-to-5 schedules to vote);

  • Ban drive-thru voting;

  • Prohibit local elections officials from encouraging qualified (read: disabled and elderly) voters to apply for mail-in ballots (thus ensuring no one ever learns of the opportunity ever again);

  • Strengthen the authority of partisan poll watchers to challenge voters, including allowing them to video voters receiving assistance in filling out their ballots.43

49,359 鈥 Total Texas deaths from COVID-19 as of 1:41 PM CT on April 15, 2021.44


Additional Resources:




William O. Pate II is the founding editor and publisher of San Antonio Review. He lives in Austin.

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