Woman who invited Texas governor to her mother’s funeral says she would be alive if state had mandated masks sooner

Coronavirus

DALLAS, Texas (CNN) — The woman who invited Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to her mother’s burial “to witness first-hand the tragedy” of mourning the respiratory therapist who died of Covid-19 criticized the state’s response to the pandemic.

“My mom could still be alive had there been a mask mandate much earlier on and had Texas stayed closed,” Fiana Tulip told CNN’s Don Lemon Wednesday.

Isabelle Papadimitriou (Photo Credit: Fiana Tulip)

Isabelle Papadimitriou was a respiratory therapist in Dallas, Texas, when the pandemic came to the state and then to her hospital, Tulip said of her mother. The only places Papadimitriou went during that time were work and home, her daughter said said.

“My mother was a frontline worker and she didn’t have the option to Netflix and chill. … She had to go to work,” Tulip said. “Whether these frontline workers want to be heroes or not, they don’t have a choice.”

Tulip believes her mother contracted the virus during Abbott’s executive order restricting local leaders from implementing mask requirements. More than 363,615 people have contracted the virus in the state and 4,439 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Papadimitriou started feeling sick on a Saturday, and died a week later on July 4, Tulip said. Abbott issued a statewide mask mandate on July 2.

But Tulip has funneled her grief into action, encouraging people to take the virus seriously, she said. Although she was sad, shocked and upset the first few days, she quickly began to think about the ways she believes the state has fallen short in coronavirus prevention.

“I looked at the way that Texas’ leaders were handling the virus and it just seemed reckless and careless,” Tulip said. “I couldn’t understand why they opened up so early and as cases continued to spike, they continued to open up.”

In an open letter that accompanied her mother’s obituary published in the Austin American-Statesman, Tulip specifically targeted Abbott, writing that his “inaction and active denial” of the virus’s devastation mean those lost are “just numbers to you.”

She also invited Abbott to her mother’s burial “to witness first-hand the tragedy of my brother and I mourning our incredible mother who gave her life to save others.”

Abbott hasn’t responded publicly to the letter and didn’t respond to CNN’s request for comment about it.

Tulip told Lemon she has not heard from his office.

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