As this column is being written, Texas is entering its darkest days of the Coronavirus epidemic. Although mitigation measures will hopefully reduce the burden on our medical infrastructure, it is clear that more physical suffering and deaths are approaching. After the storm of disease has abated, the economic damage will continue.
While we cannot cure or completely prevent the COVID-19 infections, we must admire and salute our healthcare workers and first responders who have saved many lives through their heroic dedication. Winston Churchill said, “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, this was their finest hour.” So it will also be, when we recall this great time of challenge and tribulation, that it was the finest hour for our healthcare workers and first responders.
Even as Churchill provided leadership for his country, I am proud to acknowledge the steady, unwavering leadership of our County Judges and County Commissioners during this crisis. When the initial response from our state and federal government was timid and inconsistent, our county leaders stepped forward, setting an example of early suspension of social gatherings and clearly adopting distancing strategies to reduce the spread of the disease. Working closely with local public health authorities, counties initiated the first disaster orders and implemented the best possible response. There is no doubt that this prompt, decisive action saved many lives. The value of local decision-making was surely affirmed in this darkest hour. We will learn from this experience and must improve our future planning and preparation, especially at the federal and state level. However, I will always be proud of the unflinching leadership and dedication of our county leaders in this time of greatest need.