AUSTIN, Texas (KETK) – On Sunday, Gov. Abbott gave an update on the coronavirus efforts in Texas.
He started by describing the number of cases in Texas which include 334 persons across 43 counties in the state who have tested positive for COVID-19. He also said six people have died as a result of the virus.
Out of the 334 people that have tested positive, nearly 8,700 people have been tested.
The numbers he described if from the Department of State Health Services that includes individuals who have received their results back and test positive.
Johns Hopkins, one of the sources tracking the cases, says they have 566 people that have tested positive. However, they include ‘presumptive cases’ that have not received results back.
As of Friday, 2325 people were tested, with 8,700 tested by Sunday morning. Of those, less than 10% of people are testing positive.
As more tests are available, Gov. Abbott says he expects more people to test positive. That is why he is increasing the number of tests available and the locations people can get tested.
“This is to be expected,” Gov. Abbott said.
He went on to explain that the state is testing to the full extent of testing capabilities at this time.
“This is a concern voiced by all governors across the US about inadequate supplies of testing,” Abbott said.
On Saturday, Abbott waived regulations to allow for the expansion of nursing staff. He says it is part of the focus on both health care and hospital capacity.
Along with maximizing hospital capacity, he declared two executive orders:
- I am directing all licensed healthcare professionals and all healthcare facilities to postpone all surgeries that are not medically necessary to save the lives of patients
- I am suspending certain regulations to increase capacity of hospital rooms available
With the suspension of all non-essential surgeries, he expects that to open up 50% of hospital bed space for COVID-19 patients.
Gov. Abbott then went on to explain that he will NOT be issuing a statewide shutdown.
His explanation of the decision comes from people complying with the executive order of avoiding groups of 10. Abbott did explain that while he is seeing a positive outlook, he still expects full compliance or people will face penalties with up to 180 days in jail.
When asked about a shelter in place order, Abbott said that of the 254 counties, more than 200 have zero cases. He explained that what may be right in one area, does not work for the whole state.
As a result, he is giving local officials the authority to order stronger mandates than he has issued.
He said he would applaud and support such cities that would issue stricter mandates, and that he is always flexible and remains ready at a moment’s notice to implement stricter standards.
Currently, here are the regulations in place over Texas.
- Do not gather in groups larger than 10
- Do not go into bars or restaurants; use drive-thru windows and deliveries
- Follow directions I have issued today that frees up (hospital) bed space
Earlier this week, Gov. Abbott activated the National Guard that will be deployed this week where they are needed to ensure all healthcare needs are met in communities that need them.
John Hellerstedt emphasized the need for preventative measures and what we are doing today will lessen the impact of COVID-19 on our communities.
Nim Kidd thanked the healthcare workers and first responders for helping combat the virus.
When asked about the peak of the virus, Hellerstedt said it depends entirely on our ability to prevent the spread. He said officials know what the spread is like when there are no preventative measures, and their goal is to slow down the number of cases so the peak comes later and lower. He also said the peak could be weeks to months away.
With many concerned about education, Gov. Abbott said students returning to class depend entirely on how the public is able to slow down the spread.
He encouraged the public to do the following to help reduce the number of cases:
- Don’t leave your home unless it is necessary
Along with freeing up hospital bed space, officials are also looking at using hotels and other locations for keeping patients safe and healthy.
Right now, they are leaving surgical standards for essential procedures for medical professionals to determine.
Overall, he said they are increasing the amount of testing and bed space for sick patients. Gov. Abbott also emphasized that a statewide shutdown would not be necessary at this time. He is giving authority to local governments to implement such standards.