It was only a month ago that County Judge Lina Hidalgo appeared before a sparsely attended press conference with her eyes barely visible above her mask to announce that she was returning the County to “Code Red” on its COVID threat system. According to the County’s website, that means there is “a severe and uncontrolled level of COVID-19 in Harris County, meaning outbreaks are present and worsening, and public health capacity is strained or exceeded.” The site recommends that unvaccinated individuals not leave their homes “except for the most essential needs.” The site says that vaccinated individuals should follow all CDC guidelines.
But none of that stopped Hidalgo from holding a campaign rally last Wednesday at a local event venue. For a couple of weeks before the event, the Hidalgo campaign heavily promoted the event. The flyer encouraged attendees to bring their friends. It said nothing about making sure the friends were vaccinated before inviting them.
It also said that “this event will follow parameters dictated by the Harris County COVID threat level with regard to masking and vaccination status.” Since the event was held while the threat level was red, everyone should have been masked and only vaccinated guests should have been allowed to attend.
But video shot at the event showed attendees in close quarters and most without masks. None of those speaking at the event were wearing masks. Also, several people who attended the event told me that no one was checking vaccination status at the door.
Greg Groogan at Channel 26 broke the story. He contacted Hidalgo’s office and her campaign to ask how Hidalgo reconciled holding the event with her Code Red warnings. Neither returned his calls.
Of course, this kind of “do-as-I-say” hypocrisy is nothing new from elected officials during the pandemic. From California Governor Gavin Newsome dining unmasked with lobbyists to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson partying during the London lockdown to Nancy Pelosi arranging for her salon to open during a lockdown to coif her hair, officials have repeatedly shown that they cannot live up to the own rules they have imposed on the public.
Hidalgo first showed that her priority politically exploiting the pandemic when she was willing to blow $11 million of money earmarked for COVID mitigation on Democratic operatives. Her willingness to ignore her own COVID guidance to facilitate an event for her campaign is merely additional confirmation.
It is little wonder the public has largely lost their faith in official pronouncements on just about anything having to do with COVID.