AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he’s activating the Texas National Guard to potentially help with the state’s response to COVID-19.
However, Gov. Abbott said no National Guard members currently need to be deployed.
“We just want to make sure that we activated them. They know that they’re going to be activated, the general of the National Guard, Gen. Norris, can be in charge of getting them ready,” Abbott said. “We do want to exempt from anybody who may be called up first responders or anybody involved in the health-care profession because they need to be on the front lines making sure that we are providing all the health care that is needed for those who may contract COVID-19.'”
The governor also shared there are now 64 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Texas across 19 counties. He said 1,264 Texas have now been tested for the virus. The state had its first reported death related to COVID-19 in Matagorda County.
Gov. Abbott said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will soon provide 15,000 test kits to the state, so he estimates that 10,000 people will be able to be tested per week in Texas.
This was all discussed before Gov. Abbott held a phone conference with hospital CEOs and doctors across the state.
Part of this discussion included recommendations from the healthcare workers in regard to alternative facilities if hospitals get too full.
“For people who test positive, who need to be in isolation but don’t need critical care, we’re looking at the possibility of using hotels and motels in various regions across the entire state of Texas,” Abbott said.
Abbott said other facilities that could be used include previously closed hospitals and healthcare centers, and well-equipped tents.
But more facilities would mean more staff.
“We need nurses, we need doctors, we need other healthcare providers who can provide the personnel needed for these entities,” Abbott said, adding that they are working on strategies to solve the issue.
On Monday Gov. Abbott hosted a news conference in San Antonio to provide updates on testing capabilities.