TMA Urges Governor to Allow Local Mask, Vaccination Decisions

A Message from the TMA President

As physicians across the state toil against the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas Medical Association leaders met with Gov. Greg Abbott’s office [on August 20] to ask for greater flexibility at the local level to respond to and slow the surge and its emotional and physical impacts on you and the health care system. 

As this latest wave has shown, we are seeing many more patients who are younger and sicker requiring hospitalization and intensive care, the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated. This is particularly concerning for kids under the age of 12 who do not yet have access to a vaccine. 

Because all disasters are local – and because so many of you have reached out to us – the TMA Board of Trustees, in an emergency meeting last Sunday, unanimously decided we needed to take action to reach out to the governor. 

On Friday, I led a meeting with the governor’s chief of staff, Luis Saenz, and deputy chief of staff Garland Pate. Joining me in the virtual meeting were TMA President-Elect Gary Floyd, MD; TMA Board of Trustees Chair Richard W. Snyder II, MD; TMA Board of Trustees Vice Chair G. Ray Callas, MD; and TMA Executive Vice President and CEO Michael J. Darrouzet. 

Our request to the governor on behalf of the TMA Board of Trustees: Please allow all institutions – including schools, school districts, hospitals, health care facilities, medical schools, and medical centers, regardless of funding source – to make local, independent decisions regarding vaccinations and the use of masks, preferably in consultation with physicians in those communities, and always using evidence-based data to inform their decisions. 

The lengthy discussion underscored the need for physicians and state leadership to continue educating Texans about the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and to address vaccine hesitancy. 

TMA understands and appreciates all you are doing during this difficult time to address the needs of your communities and your patients. We are taking steps to ensure your viability, resiliency, and knowledge of the current crisis. 

Please continue to share your stories, issues, and concerns. And we will always be keeping you abreast of the association’s advocacy activities in Texas Medicine Today and through the COVID-19 Resource Center.


Sincerely,

E. Linda Villarreal, MD
President
Texas Medical Association

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