Abbott to send 2,500 out-of-state medical staff to help with COVID-19 surge

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Thursday said he would be sending 2,500 additional out-of-state medical personnel to help address the state’s COVID-19 surge fueled by the highly contagious delta variant. 

The governor noted in a press release that with the latest addition to staff at Texas hospitals and nursing homes, there will be 8,100 total outside medical personnel that have been deployed across the Lone Star State over the past month as health care facilities struggle to keep up with a record wave of hospitalizations. 

"The medical personnel and equipment deployed by DSHS [Texas Department of State Health Services] will provide crucial support to our health care facilities as they treat hospitalized cases of COVID-19," Abbott said in a statement Thursday. 

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The Republican governor went on to urge Texans to “do their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and hospitalizations by getting the vaccine.” 

“It's safe, effective, and your best defense against COVID-19,” he added. 

On top of the additional medical staff, Abbott said that DSHS would also be providing various health care facilities across the state more medical equipment, including ventilators, oxygen concentrators, heart monitors, IV pumps, feeding pumps and hospital beds. 

Abbott first announced that he would be bringing in 2,800 out-of-state medical personnel earlier this month, along with several other coronavirus mitigation measures, including a request to hospitals to delay elective medical procedures in order to reserve enough hospital space for COVID-19 patients. 

The governor at the time also issued a request to DSHS and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to open additional COVID-19 antibody infusion centers for those infected with the virus who don’t need to be hospitalized. 

Abbott announced last week that an additional 2,700 medical personnel would be deployed, bringing the total number at the time to roughly 5,500. 

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The governor has said that the additional medical personnel would be fully funded by the state through Sept. 30. 

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, coronavirus patients currently take up more than half of ICU beds across Texas, compared to a rate of 30 percent nationally. 

The surges come as Abbott is engaged in ongoing legal battles with several districts over the implementation of school mask mandates following the governor’s statewide ban on requiring facial coverings in schools. 

The GOP governor this week also issued an executive order prohibiting government entities from issuing coronavirus vaccine mandates, regardless of if it has received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

The FDA this week granted approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, prompting a new wave of businesses and local governments to issue vaccine requirements.