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December 30, 2020      10:36 PM

As coronavirus numbers spike in Texas, DSHS Commissioner Hellerstedt tells county judges that government has maxed out on what it can do

"I think government has reached the limits of what it regulates and controls and licenses,” Dr. Hellerstedt said on a Wednesday conference call, adding it’s all about persuasion now: “Politics is not a four-letter word. It’s how we get things done.”

As county judges – Republicans and Democrats – from Southeast Texas on Wednesday shared frustrations about rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and confusion about vaccine distribution, the head of the Department of State Health Services told them that “government has reached the limits of what it regulates and controls and licenses” in the fight against the outbreak.

Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS Commissioner, told county officials from Fort Bend, Montgomery, Colorado, Wharton, Brazoria, Waller, and Austin Counties on a conference call that no further restrictions would be coming from Gov. Greg Abbott’s administration and that the best thing they can do now is to try to change “hearts and minds” about behavior.

That’s as the state was reporting a record 11,992 people in Texas hospitals with lab confirmed COVID.

According to those familiar with the discussion, Commissioner Hellerstedt told county judges that even as a medical professional – he is a Doctor of Medicine – he could not advise them to use any government restrictions that Gov. Abbott has unilaterally prohibited through his executive orders.

But even as Hellerstedt made the case that the best tool available now is persuasion, a GOP County judge said that would be very difficult because there have been “so many mixed messages from top down” during the pandemic.

By Scott Braddock

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