Texas Gov. Abbott deploys thousands of out-of-state medical staff to battle delta Covid surge
Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaking at a press conference at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on May 18, 2020.
Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool | Getty Images
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is asking for 2,500 additional medical personnel from across the country to help alleviate pressure on the state’s health-care system imposed by this summer’s Covid surge.
Texas began requesting external assistance just two weeks ago, when Abbott announced that the Texas Department of State Health Services had coordinated a first wave of over 2,500 out-of-state workers to respond to the delta variant. With this latest call, Texas will have approximately 8,100 outside medical personnel, including nurses and respiratory therapists.
Covid patients are currently taking up more than half of all intensive care beds in Texas as of Thursday, compared with 30% nationwide, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
“The medical personnel and equipment deployed by DSHS will provide crucial support to our health care facilities as they treat hospitalized cases of COVID-19,” Abbott said in a statement.
The Texas Department of State Health Services is also distributing ventilators, hospital beds, heart monitors and oxygen machines, the statement said. More than a quarter of Texas’ nearly 52,000 reported hospital inpatients have the coronavirus, HHS recorded Thursday.
Texas also announced the opening of nine monoclonal antibody infusion centers earlier this month, offering current Covid patients a treatment option to limit severe disease and hospitalization. Abbott supports vaccines and the use of antibodies but opposes mask and vaccine mandates, banning local governments and schools from enacting those requirements and threatening any who disobey with a $1,000 fine.
Though the pace of rising cases has recently slowed in Texas, the state still reported a seven-day average of 16,970 new cases as of Wednesday, an increase of 10% from a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. But health officials have warned that a slowing down in infection rates are not necessarily a reliable barometer of progress against the coronavirus.
“I think it is important to recognize that usually case rates rise and then stabilize, but unfortunately, hospitalization rates rise after that and then stabilize later,” Dr. Barbara Taylor, an assistant dean and infectious disease professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, said in an interview with CNBC. “It usually lags by at least a couple of weeks.”