Abbott says 11 Texans have died from COVID-19, 65 counties affected

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AUSTIN, Texas (KETK) – Governor Greg Abbott said 715 Texans have tested positive for COVID-19.

The number comes from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Johns Hopkins University counts the positive tests as 810, “but it’s my understanding that Johns Hopkins counts in their numbers the people brought back from cruise ships,” Abbott said in a press conference Tuesday.

Abbott said the state has suffered 11 deaths from COVID-19 with 65 counties affected.

To date, he said, more than 11,000 tests have been performed.

Abbott said he is issuing a new executive order to further strengthen efforts to combat the virus.

The order is intended to help officials to better track both hospital bed capacity and COVID-19 test results across the state. It requires all hospitals, excluding psychiatric hospitals, to submit daily reports on hospital bed capacity to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) who will then share this information with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The order also requires every public or private entity utilizing FDA-approved COVID-19 tests to submit daily reports of all results to the local health department and DSHS who will then share this information with the CDC.

“We want to be sure that everyone is doing everything possible to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said.

To that end, he repeated his previous orders for no one to gather in groups larger than 10, limiting the ability of any non-essential person to go into any senior care facility, maintain practice of social distancing, and bars and restaurants remain closed except for delivery and pickup.

One area where Abbott said Texas is faring better than other states is in the amount of PPE, or personal protection equipment, available for first responders and healthcare workers.

He said the newly established Supply Chain Strike Force has already secured more than $83 million of purchase orders for essential supplies.

He also announced that the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) will begin receiving 100,000 masks per day by the end of this week and the Supply Chain Strike Force will begin receiving an additional 100,000 masks per day by the end of next week—meaning the State of Texas will soon be receiving more than one million masks per week.

Abbott said the launch of an online portal run by the Supply Chain Strike Force will streamline the process and validation of leads for more supplies.

The portal, accessible through www.texas.gov, will serve as an intake process for those wanting to provide valid leads on PPE and donations.

The portal also serves as a portal for those wanting to donate supplies, services, or your time—including medical professionals and nurses looking to volunteer.

“The State of Texas is rapidly accelerating the purchasing and delivery of essential personal protection equipment and other supplies to aid in our COVID-19 response,” Abbott said. “The Supply Chain Strike Force is working in concert with the Texas Division of Emergency Management to secure these vital resources and to swiftly distribute them to medical professionals, hospitals, and first responders in communities throughout the state. We thank all those who have already offered donations to meet our supply needs. I urge all Texans who would like to donate essential supplies and all medical professionals who are willing to volunteer their time and expertise to visit www.texas.gov to find out how they can help.”

He showcased the abundance of PPE in the warehouse where his press conference was held, highlighting the crates of equipment stacked behind him.

“The people who are administering the COVID-19 tests to the patients must be wearing this personal protection equipment,” he said. “I am proud to say that we are loaded with a lot of equipment.”

“Altogether, next week, Texas should be getting more than a million masks per week,” he said. 

Medical groups have offered up the masks and medical gear, including the Texas Society of Plastic Surgeons and the Texas Medical Association. Dr. Luis Rios, president of the Texas Society of Plastic Surgeons, delivered 1,000 masks, 1,000 gloves and hundreds of gowns, the governor said.

Texans can donate equipment and volunteer at www.texas.gov.

Asked about President Donald Trump’s vow to reopen the economy and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s latest remarks on Fox News, Abbott said his decisions will remain predicated on the advice of DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt and calls with governors and the White House.

“I will base my decision as governor of the state of Texas on what physicians say,” he said, adding that health and safety should be a top priority. “If the goal is to get the economy going, the best thing we can do to get the economy going is to get COVID-19 behind us.”

Texas must bend the curve of COVID-19 growth. Then, “the economy will come roaring back,” he said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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