Doctors ask Republicans to cancel Houston’s in-person convention

Dr. Diana Fite, President Texas Medical Association
Dr. Diana Fite, President Texas Medical Association

By Allan & Linda Jamail

Tuesday, June 30, 2020 – Houston, TX. — Today Dr. Diana Fite, President of the Texas Medical Association (TMA) in behalf of the 53,000 members has asked the Republican Party of Texas to cancel their in-person convention in Houston. The State Republican Convention is scheduled to begin Thursday July 16 – 18 in at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

President Dr. Diana Fite in an open letter today to the Republican leadership of Texas cited the growing number of corona virus cases and hospitalizations in Harris County as a reason for the Texas Republican Party to cancel its Houston convention.

Fite said, “The County has the highest number of cases and deaths in the state. The daily chart of active cases in Harris County has been nearly a straight line upward for the past two weeks. As an emergency physician in Houston treating patients with COVID-19, I speak from firsthand experience: It would be best for the health of your convention goers and the residents of Houston for the Republican Party not to hold its biennial convention there as planned.”

“This is just not the time to bring thousands of the party members from around the state to an indoor meeting in a county that…reports more than 18,000 active COVID-19 cases. The potential for a combined corona virus/flu outbreak this fall and winter is real, and it is as serious as it sounds,” Fite concluded.

Texas officials announced today nearly 7,000 new cases, breaking the state’s record for the total number of confirmed cases in one day. Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott explaining in a recent interview that he should have slowed efforts to reopen some businesses including bars.

“If I could go back and redo anything, it probably would have been to slow down the opening of bars, now seeing in the aftermath of how quickly the corona virus spread in the bar setting,” Abbott said.

The Texas GOP convention is expected to gather about 6,000 people indoors without a mask requirement. All at the same time Harris County and Houston health officials along with the TMS is encouraging Texans to stay home and practice social distancing and wear a mask if you must get out for essentials like groceries and medicines.

The 170 year old TMA, represents the largest medical center in the world, and warns if the current trend of cases continues to increase the hospital systems capacity across the state will be overwhelmed… their warning urges citizens to first and foremost stay home when possible. If we don’t handle this correctly, the consequences will be severe for us, our patients and large swaths of the Texas health care system,” a TMA spokesperson said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a U.S. Senate committee today the United States cannot count on the availability of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, there is no guarantee and he warned that the daily surge in cases could more than double if Americans fail to take steps to get the virus under control. Currently there are around 40,000 cases, it could reach 100,000 if people do not adhere to social distancing guidelines and wear masks.

Young people, in particular, are at risk, Fauci told the Senate Committee. “What we saw were a lot of young people who maybe felt that because they think they are invulnerable, and we know many young people are not because they’re getting serious disease, that therefore they’re getting infected has nothing at all to do with anyone else, when in fact it does,” he said.

Harris County’s mandatory mask order will remain in effect through the end of the summer, Commissioners Court decided today. The court extended until Aug. 26 the county’s disaster declaration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing County Judge Lina Hidalgo to extend the mask rules until that date as well. The mask order, which Hidalgo issued June 19, mandates that businesses require patrons to cover their faces. The vote to extend the declaration was 3-2, with the two Republican commissioners, Steve Radack and Jack Cagle, voting no.

The Texas Democratic Party (TDP) wisely looked ahead and in early March they passed party rules allowing them to have a virtual internet convention in June instead of the traditional IN-PERSON convention. They experienced over 12,000 conventioneers and raised several million dollars in the nation’s largest state convention to date. TDP officials said we put the health of our members and the communities of the San Antonio area where the convention was scheduled to take place as our top priority.

The TMA made $5,000 contributions to both the Texas Democratic Party and the Texas Republican Party for their respective state conventions, in exchange for advertising. They began pursuing both sponsorships in February, before the pandemic or any stay-home/social distancing measures hit Texas.