Texas governor Greg Abbott, who has banned local mask requirements and spent weeks meeting maskless crowds, has tested positive for Covid-19.
Abbott, a Republican, is double-jabbed and is not experiencing symptoms, his office said. He is receiving a monoclonal antibody treatment and isolating in the governor’s mansion.
A spokesperson for Abbott said: “Governor Abbott is in constant communication with his staff, agency heads and government officials to ensure that state government continues to operate smoothly and efficiently.”
As the Delta variant spreads across the US, Texas has emerged as a coronavirus hotspot. There are reportedly only 314 available intensive care unit beds statewide, and paediatric ICUs are running out of space.
More than 11,500 patients were admitted to hospital with the virus as of Monday, the highest levels since January.
Abbott has railed against mask requirements and pushed back against schools and public health authorities mandating Covid-19 vaccines.
Less than 24 hours before testing positive for the virus, he tweeted a photo of himself waving to a room packed with older people – with almost no masks in sight.
Another standing room only event in Collin County tonight.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) August 17, 2021
Thank y’all for the enthusiastic reception.
Let's keep this energy up and send a message that Texas values are NOT up for grabs in 2022. pic.twitter.com/wlPZyrHpx3
Earlier this month the US was averaging 100,000 new Covid-19 infections a day – a staggering rise from roughly 11,000 daily infections in late June – returning to a milestone last seen during the winter surge.
Health officials are fearful that cases will continue to soar if more Americans do not embrace the vaccine.
“Our models show that if we don’t (vaccinate people), we could be up to several hundred thousand cases a day, similar to our surge in early January,” Centres for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky said.