Tag: Dallas

Faulty COVID-19 Tests in the Lone Star State

Greetings, everyone! Wishing y’all a terrific Tuesday!

Today, I am heading to Laredo, Texas. It will be my first time in the nation’s largest inland port, and largest border crossing in America. It is where I-35 begins and, once upon a time, it was the capital of the short-lived Republic of the Rio Grande. Why am I heading to Laredo? I have written about this recently:  it was the case of two young Hispanic women who were the victims of a law enforcement sting operation. They were arrested and faced six months in prison as well as a fine of $2,000 each. Their crime? It was not drug-related, or violation of our immigration laws. Nope, they were arrested back on April 20th because they dared to do nail and eyebrow services in their home. Let me repeat, the Laredo Police Department allocated resources to conduct a sting operation in order to entrap and arrest two young Hispanic women, ages 31 and 20.

I find it alarming that in this time of illegal martial law and house arrest you can be arrested for what you are doing inside your home. Even in El Paso, there is a citizen report number, a snitch number, to tell law enforcement if people are having gatherings in their own homes. I wonder how that worked out on Mother’s Day?

Laredo, a city of 260,000, where citizens, perhaps more so “subjects” were being fined for not wearing masks, fined even for leaving the city. Yes, it seems that Laredo Mayor “Pete” Saenz Jr. has become a feudal lord and issued a decree shutting off, not just down, the city. I have stated before, and will reiterate, the government is not endowed with the enumerated power to “protect our health,” they are supposed to protect our rights and security. When confronted by a virus with a 99.6 percent recovery rate, it is not necessary to instill fear, and advance panic, paranoia, and hysteria.

As of the writing of this missive, Texas, a state of some 29 million residents, has had 35,390 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There have been 18,440 Texans who have recovered and sadly, 1,088 deaths. As of this writing, the city of Laredo has had 444 confirmed cases, 223 have recovered, and there have unfortunately been 17 deaths…in a city of 260,000.

Right now, we have over 2.1million Texans now unemployed and an unemployment rate that is above 10 percent. America is now at an unemployment rate that we have not seen since the Great Depression. The last thing we want is for temporary unemployment to become permanent. But, that is very possible when one considers the very fact that some small businesses will never return.

What is very disturbing is when I read comments from those who chastise those who want to reopen our economic activity. The accusations of being selfish and not caring for others is quite disconcerting, bordering on delusion. We now know the vulnerable demographics for COVID-19. I believe that we can protect the vulnerable, and not create a new vulnerability, reflected in unemployment, the rise of suicides, and domestic abuse cases.

Leaders seek out solutions, not cower in fear, admitting to being afraid, such as Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson did in an op-ed piece Sunday. Who the heck wants to follow a person who admits being fearful? Sir Winston Churchill stated, “Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.”. What happens when elected officials react out of fear?

As reported by the Texas Tribune (financially supported by George Soros):

“When thousands of rapid COVID-19 tests were delivered to the South Texas city of Laredo late last month, it looked as if a visiting dignitary had arrived. With lights flashing and sirens blaring, Webb County sheriff’s deputies escorted a red tractor-trailer carrying the tests to a local emergency room, whose owner had purchased them from a Chinese manufacturer.

Longtime U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, who helped facilitate the arrival of the tests, smiled broadly as he carried boxes of them inside the clinic. Believing the tests would detect an active infection, Laredo leaders hustled to set up a drive-thru testing site to welcome anxious residents the following morning.

But the promise of the 20,000 tests would soon become a bitter example of what can go wrong when local governments and private medical firms try to buy supplies on the open market from unknown manufacturers, as policies from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration shift and anxiety increases over a lack of test kits from official sources.

 As they tried to validate the tests to ensure their accuracy, city health workers in Laredo quickly determined that they were unreliable and unusable. And even if they had passed the city’s testing, it’s unclear how helpful they would have been for the city at that early point in its battle against the coronavirus. They were antibody tests, which seek evidence that someone’s immune response has encountered the virus, not diagnostic tests that detect active infection.

Within a week, investigators from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would seize the 20,000 tests, as Laredo police and federal authorities tried to determine the validity of the tests’ FDA status.

“We’re very disappointed, because we thought we had secured a supply,” Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz said. “It set us back, but we can’t give up. Plan B is acquiring [tests] wherever we can find them.” Laredo’s attempt to secure the testing kits highlights what is happening not only in Texas but across the country, as a stubborn shortage of tests for the new coronavirus has led private-sector and government leaders to take risks that they normally would not.

Laredo health administrators are not the first to complain about unreliable testing kits from China. European nations have complained for weeks about receiving substandard tests from that country.

Disputed purchases include 1.2 million faulty antibody tests in Slovakia, a batch of 300,000 quick tests in the Czech Republic that local authorities said were about one-third defective, and tests sent to Turkey that officials said were just 35% accurate. Spain returned about 9,000 faulty rapid tests that it purchased from an unauthorized Chinese firm last month.”

Half a million dollars were spent on these defective tests. In Houston (Harris County), County Judge Lina Hidalgo spent some $60M dollars for a temporary hospital facility at the NRG stadium, that never saw a patient.

Reactions, rooted in fear, over a virus that has a 99.6 percent recovery rate, most dangerous for those 65 and older, and those with underlying medical conditions such as COPD, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and obesity. Let’s focus on the targeted demographic of the virus, not those who are healthy.

Illegal martial law, house arrest, fines, incarcerations, all of these are reactions, unconstitutional violations of individual rights, freedoms, and liberties. Again, an emergency does not constitute a suspension of our Bill of Rights. If that is the case, beware of more decrees, edits, mandates, and declarations.

Something tells me that in Laredo, the virus of illicit drug trafficking and illegal immigration are more deadly. I cannot tell you how many have warned me about going to Laredo, not because of COVID-19, but other dangers. I fully admit, I have not donned a face mask during this entire episode, and do not plan on doing so.

Why am I going to Laredo? Simple, to remind the people that they are Texans, American citizens, and not subjects., and to remind them that fear makes victims…courage makes victors.

Open Letter to Dallas Mayor, Eric Johnson

The phrase “the Arrogance of officialdom” is said to come from the sage words of Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero. I am quite sure neither the mayor of Dallas, Eric Johnson, nor the Dallas County judge, Clay Jenkins have read Cicero, but they are surely examples of what Cicero was warning us about.

Yesterday I was honored to be a part of a rally in Dealey Plaza, downtown Dallas, advocating for the complete reopening of the Texas economy. I was honored to be a part of the event which featured Shelley Luther, the recently jailed and released salon owner who stood for her right to earn a living wage.

Today, I read the disgusting, cowardly opinion commentary of the Dallas Mayor, Eric Johnson, in the abysmal Dallas Morning News.

“I don’t know Shelley Luther, the owner of Salon à la Mode. I don’t know her life or her character beyond what I have read in court documents and in countless news stories. And because our city attorney has pursued litigation, I have avoided commenting on the details of the case.

But I will say that I have been troubled by the reaction to this spectacle. The intense reaction we have seen is endemic of the larger devolution into partisanship during this COVID-19 response.

I ran for mayor in part because I wanted to leave behind partisanship and focus on solving problems. Partisanship offers a reprieve from nuance by providing for the tantalizing convenience of a simple us-versus-them narrative featuring white hats rather than shades of gray.

In this made-for-TV conflict, state District Judge Eric Moyé is either the honorable hero or a sinister villain for sentencing Luther to jail time for contempt. Some may have made heroes or heavies of Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, Gov. Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton or me.

We’re all characters in this story to varying degrees, but it’s not really about any of us. It’s about all of us, and it’s about fear. We’re all afraid right now. We’re afraid for ourselves and for our loved ones and neighbors.

That’s why I see no value in all the hubbub over a hair salon. We can’t afford to make martyrs out of those who flout the rule of law. And we can’t send the mixed message that public health guidelines are critical unless it’s unprofitable for you to follow them. That is an affront to those who follow the rules and act responsibly in these incredibly challenging times.

We are going to have to continue living in uncertainty, and we will have to learn to make our peace with it, even as we look for treatments and cures and push for increased testing, contact tracing and public health measures.

Bravado, haircut photo ops and partisan antics are not cures in this fight of our lives. Put down your arms. Only love and empathy will see us through.”

I find this a most offensive and condescending letter.

I find this a most offensive and condescending letter, @DallasMayor Johnson. Its arrogance produces a grand stench in my nostrils. #ShelleyLuther Click To Tweet

Mayor Johnson, it is the epitome of cowardice for you to write this letter after the rally held on Saturday. If you had any understanding of what leadership is, you would have been there yourself. Let me educate you a little on civics: laws are passed by a duly elected legislative body of representatives of the people. Edicts, mandates, decrees, and orders are not the way we operate in a Constitutional Republic.

Shelley Luther did not break any law and neither Governor Abbott, Clay Jenkins, nor you have the enumerated right to dictate to us and suspend our unalienable constitutional rights, especially over a virus that has a 99.6 percent recovery rate.

The arrogance of your letter produces a grand stench in my nostrils. The fear, panic, paranoia, and hysteria have all been produced by a lack of leadership resulting in an unnecessary burden upon law-abiding citizens of Texas. You, nor any other elected official, have the enumerated power to determine who or what is “essential.” You are not responsible for protecting our health, your charge is to protect our rights, freedoms, and liberty. While you are at it, fix the doggone roads and reduce crime.

@DallasMayor, you are not responsible for protecting our health, your charge is to protect our rights, freedoms, and liberty. While you are at it, fix the doggone roads and reduce crime. Click To Tweet

Public health guidelines? That is correct, give us guidelines, and we can adjust our lives to accommodate, but idiots such as yourself have taken the state with the 10th largest economy in the world and turned it into a massive jumble with unemployment claims of over 10 percent. There are some 2.1 million Dallasites, and if my research serves me correctly, there have been less than 200 COVID-19 related deaths. Any death is tragic, but consider the number of citizens in Dallas who are now unemployed, businesses that may never recover, and the long-term effect that has upon the quality of life, not to mention the uptick in suicides.

Again, all of this over a virus with a 99.6 percent recovery rate.

Standing up for the indomitable individual entrepreneurial spirit of Texans — Americans — is not bravado. Standing up for our individual unalienable rights, freedoms, and liberty should not be partisan. Since April 19, 1775, and October 2, 1835, Americans and Texans have understood that we are not subjects, we are free people.

Perhaps, Mayor Johnson, you should read Thomas Paine’s 1776 pamphlet “The Crisis.” I will leave you with his immortal words:

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

The spirit of Texas is the spirit of sacrifice, not subjugation to illegal martial law and house arrest. As a young 26-year-old wrote from The Alamo, “Victory or Death.” Mayor Eric Johnson, choose on which side of the line in the sand you will stand. If your letter is any indication, we all know which side you have chosen…that of cowardice.