State Watch

GOP Texas governor asks for federal assistance to help with COVID-19 testing, treatment

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced on Friday that the state has requested federal assistance to help with COVID-19 testing and treatment amid a surge in cases.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) asked for federal resources to support testing centers, medical personnel and more monoclonal antibody treatments.

Abbott, who has been a leading opponent of COVID-19 vaccine mandates, said in a statement that Texas is “urging the federal government to step up in this fight and provide the resources necessary to help protect Texans.”

“Testing sites, additional medical staff, and continued shipments of therapeutics from the federal government will help us continue to save lives and mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” he said. “Detecting COVID-19 and preventing COVID-related hospitalizations are critical to our fight against this virus.”

The state is specifically requesting testing sites in Bexar, Cameron, Dallas, Harris, Hidalgo and Tarrant counties based on COVID-19 metrics, including positivity rates and hospitalizations, and asking for more supplies of the sotrovimab monoclonal antibody treatment.

As of Sunday afternoon, Harris County had the fifth-most confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus resource center.

Additionally, Texas requested three teams of medical personnel to help in hospitals in urban areas that do not have staff contracted with the DSHS and asked the federal government to continue supplying the Regeneron and bamlanivimab monoclonal antibody treatments.

The requests comes after the Texas Health and Human Services Commission revealed last week that the state had run out of its supply of sotrovimab, which has proved to be effective in combating the omicron variant. The omicron strain is driving a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases.

The state said infusion centers would not be able to provide the treatment until “federal authorities ship additional courses of sotrovimab to Texas in January.”

Abbott last week said that while President Biden “vows full federal support to help states combat COVID,” in reality, “he’s not.”

“Biden is hoarding the anti-body therapeutic drugs & denying states independent access to that medical treatment. Now, he has stopped providing any of that medicine to Texas,” he added.

Texas is currently seeing a spike in coronavirus cases. At the end of December, the state was reporting more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases per day, up from the roughly 4,000 new daily COVID-19 infections in November, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Biden last month announced new efforts to safeguard Americans and bolster communities and hospitals amid the spread of omicron.

The state of Texas made headlines on Friday after a federal judge blocked mask and vaccine mandates in the state’s Head Start program. Abbott, in a tweet after the ruling, said, “Texas just beat Biden again.”

Abbott issued an executive order in October barring vaccine mandates from being implemented in the state after Biden announced a series of federal mandates for health care workers, large employers and federal contractors. 

Tags Greg Abbott Joe Biden monoclonal antibody treatment Omicron variant

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