Governor Greg Abbott asked for help from another state Monday to combat the third wave of COVID-19 in Texas.
The request came when a county-owned hospital in Houston pitched tents to accommodate its COVID-19 overflow. The county’s private hospitals already required their staff to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the Dallas school district announced Monday that it would require students and staff to wear face masks beginning Tuesday. The Houston school district already announced a mask mandate for its students and staff later this week if its board approves it.
The highly contagious delta variant is fueling the wave.
Abbott has directed the Texas Department of State Health Services to use staffing agencies to find additional medical staff across state lines as the delta wave began to overwhelm its current staffing resources. He also sent a letter to the Texas Hospital Association requesting that hospitals voluntarily postpone all elective medical procedures.
Hospital officials in Houston said last week that area hospitals with beds had insufficient numbers of nurses to care for them.
Abbott also directed the state health department and the Texas Division of Emergency Management to open additional COVID-19 antibody infusion centers to treat patients who do not need hospital care and expand the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine to the underserved communities of the state. It also announced that about $ 267 million in food benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. That is in addition to the $ 3.9 billion in benefits previously allocated since April 2020.
The governor is taking steps to lift his emergency order prohibiting county and local government entities from requiring the use of masks and social distancing to reduce the risk of COVID-19. The Republican has repeatedly said that Texans have the information and intelligence to make their own decisions about what steps to take to protect their health and the health of those around them.
Also Monday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins filed a lawsuit asking a judge to overturn Abbott’s mask mandate ban.
Meanwhile, one of the two Houston County-owned hospitals was pitching tents to accommodate its COVID-19 overflow. Harris Health System and Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in Northeast Houston added nearly 2,000 square feet of medical tents in hopes of taking control of the anticipated increase in patient volume and keeping COVID-free patients and staff safe. 19.
Last week, Houston-area officials said the wave of delta infections put so much pressure on area hospitals that some patients had to be transferred out of the city, with one being sent to North Dakota.
In Dallas, the superintendent of the state’s second-largest public school system announced Monday that the district would require masks and social distancing beginning Tuesday, despite Abbott’s ban.
At a news conference, Dallas Superintendent of Schools Michael Hinojosa said that the school district’s legal advisers assured that Abbott’s order does not limit the district’s rights as an employer and educational institution to establish reasonable and necessary safety rules to your staff and students.
The superintendent of the Houston school district, the largest in the state, announced last week that the district would require masks and social distancing in district schools upon approval by the district board on Thursday. A group of parents south of the Houston Independent School District over the weekend, defying the requirements.
The two-week daily average of new COVID-19 cases has risen 165% to 8,533, according to research data from Johns Hopkins University. About 45% of the state’s population has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.