SINTON – When the executive order requiring residents to wear face coverings in San Patricio County was set to expire last Monday, several concerned citizens decided to speak out against extending the mandated mask order. While things never really got out of hand, they did get a bit ... strange.
Michael Gresham was the first to head to the podium during the public comment portion of commissioners court and used his time to read a letter sent from Sen. Bob Hall to Gov. Greg Abbott on Aug. 26.
In it, Hall said it well past time for Texas to stop following and start leading in the battle against the Chinese COVID-19 virus. He also said that Texas’ policies were implemented out of fear, and were doing more damage to our economy and people’s health and well-being than the virus.
Gresham read, “We need to immediately return to the Texas model and society as it existed on March 1, 2020 – Businesses open without government restrictions. Schools open with teachers and students in their classrooms without masks. Churches open without government restrictions. Gov. Abbott, you have the power to end this carnage.”
SPC Department of Public Health Medical Director Dr. James Mobley followed with his weekly COVID-19 report and said that even though positive cases in the county, as well as throughout Texas, were falling, he was wondering if there would be would see another spike after Labor Day.
“At this time, lots of my colleagues say there will be,” Mobley said. “What I do know is at the present time my recommendation is that we continue all current precautions we have through the month of September while we analyze and see what happens.”
He said if there was no spike they would reevaluate their position and revise any orders as need be.
Portland resident Martie Quintanilla said that places like Montgomery County weren’t enforcing the face covering mandate and “ ... in San Patricio County, our mask mandates are harsher than Gov. Abbott’s.”
One thing to take note of is that according to the Montgomery County Public Health District, in Montgomery County as of Sept. 3, they had 1,260 active COVID-19 cases, a total of 9,046 positive cases and 130 deaths. According to the SPC Health Department, San Patricio County at the same time frame had 168 active cases, 1,326 total COVID-19 cases and 60 deaths.
“I think we’ve just reached the point where this is in the realm of, it definitely needs to be reconsidered,” Quintanilla said. “Respectfully we are asking you not to reissue the mask and face covering mandate.”
Another Portland resident, Kristi Jordan, said she wanted Judge Krebs to not make a choice out of fear from what other people would think of Krebs when deciding to extend the face covering order. She added that masks were designed to be worn for doctors and nurses, not healthy people.
“God gave us the right to breathe,” Jordan said. “Not you, not Governor Abbott, not President Trump, not any elected official. That is our unalienable right – to breathe oxygen.”
She also said that doctors need to be pushing people to get healthy to boost their immune systems.
“We’re living in fear over this virus but we can do things to protect ourselves,” Jordan said. “We can stop eating Big Macs every day. We can eat rice. Get sunshine and fresh air. And we can help our immune systems do what God gave our immune systems the ability to do.
“Healthy humans are not designed to wear masks.”
Also from Portland, Laura Fleig, asked commissioners why doctors are having trouble prescribing hydroxychloroquine when it’s proven to work according to some Texas doctors.
Commissioners Pct. 4 Howard Gillespie looked around the court confused before saying, “We’re not medical doctors. We can do a lot of things, but we can’t do anything about that.”
Judge Krebs added, “That’s for the medical professionals to decide what they’re going do. We don’t have anything to do with that.”
Fleig was right about several Texas doctors such as Dr. Brian Proctor, Dr. Robin Armstrong and Dr. Richard Bartlett who are all from Texas and touted the drugs benefits during a virtual town hall hosted by aforementioned Sen. Hall.
Perhaps the most outspoken of them all was Dr. Stella Immanuel. When a video of her touting hydroxychloroquine went viral – and was retweeted by President Trump himself – Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pulled it for sharing false information.
The Texas Medical Board said in a statement that there are drugs and therapies to treat COVID-19 but there is no absolute cure and the medical community is still “ ... learning, researching and gaining understanding of the virus.”
With questions still lingering about the virus, it’s easy for wires to get crossed.
Commissioner Pct. 2 Gary Moore entered a motion for the mask order be suspended until Gov. Abbott gave further instruction.
The motion failed.
It was then that Taft resident Josh Rieder stepped on a courtroom chair, then jumped over to make his way to the podium – a move not witnessed by any of the commissioners before.
“When rational people finally decide that enough is enough, the reaction normally is going to be just be a lot of hooting and hollering,” Rieder said. “Making decisions out of fear, false pseudoscience, using shame and guilt to try and make people feel that they’re doing something for the greater good is wrong.
“It’s not even bad politics, it’s just deceit.
“This is wrong and people know that and they’re waiting for you to do the right thing. And you should.
“Or you’ll be retired, very soon. Very soon. Thank you.”
The face covering order known as DK-06 passed and will be in effect until 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 30.
Paul Gonzales is a reporter at The News of San Patricio and can be reached at 361-364-1270, or by email at email@example.com.