Governor Greg Abbott announced Monday a series of actions the State of Texas is taking to mitigate the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Texas. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will be utilizing staffing agencies to provide medical personnel from out-of-state to Texas health care facilities to assist in COVID-19 operations. The Governor has also sent a letter to the Texas Hospital Association asking hospitals to voluntarily postpone elective medical procedures, for which a delay will not result in loss of life or the deterioration of a patient’s condition, in order to increase hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients.
Abbott’s request Monday came as a county-owned hospital in Houston raised tents to accommodate their Covid overflow. Wilbarger General Hospital CEO Tom Siemers said that WGH even had a request to receive a Covid transfer from Houston. There is currently, as of Tuesday, one patient in Wilbarger County hospitalized at WGH with Covid, and one transfer hospitalized. Siemers expects the number to increase, but he also expressed concern that without the state assistance with staff, the hospital cannot handle many more patients.
Governor Abbott is directing the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and DSHS to open additional COVID-19 antibody infusion centers in communities across the state. These infusion centers will treat COVID-19 patients who do not need hospitalization with therapeutic drugs that can prevent their condition from worsening and requiring hospital care. These centers also help increase bed capacity in hospitals so that resources are available for the most ill patients. The existing infusion center in Lubbock will expand capacity this week, and DSHS will launch five new centers throughout Texas beginning with a facility in San Antonio tomorrow. The State deployed similar measures in early 2021 to communities across Texas. Patients must meet certain criteria and have a referral from a doctor.
The Governor is also directing TDEM and DSHS to increase vaccination availability across the state and encourages all Texans to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Texans can visit covidvaccine.texas.gov to find a provider near them. Texans can also utilize TDEM’s State Mobile Vaccine Program by calling 844-90-TEXAS and selecting Option 3 to schedule a mobile vaccine clinic to vaccinate groups of of friends, families, employees, volunteers, and more. Homebound Texans can also call 844-90-TEXAS and choose Option 1 to request a mobile vaccine team to come to their home.
“The State of Texas is taking action to combat the recent rise in COVID-19 cases and ensure that our hospitals and communities have the resources and support they need to mitigate the virus,” said Governor Abbott. “Texans can help bolster our efforts by getting vaccinated against COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, and it is our best defense against this virus. Texans can visit covidvaccine.texas.gov to find a COVID-19 vaccine provider near them.”