Abbott talks with local officials on virus response

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces the activation of the Texas National Guard in response the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement was made from the Governor's Conference Room in the Texas Department of Emergency Management Command Center. Abbott was joined by Chief Nim Kidd, head of the Texas Division of Emergency Management. (Photo by Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune)

Gov. Greg Abbott held virtual meetings Tuesday with elected officials, emergency managers, hospital executives and state legislators from Cameron and Hidalgo counties to discuss efforts to combat COVID-19 in South Texas.

Abbott’s Chief of Staff Luis Saenz and Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd visited the Rio Grande Valley to discuss hospital capacity and other ongoing needs with officials from both counties.

“Our ongoing collaboration with local officials in the Rio Grande Valley is critical to effectively combating COVID-19 and keeping these communities safe,” Abbott said in a news release Tuesday. “The State of Texas will continue to provide the support and resources that Valley leaders need to protect public health and mitigate the spread of this virus.”

According to the new release, the governor and local leaders discussed the ongoing needs of the Valley and ways in which the state can continue to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Abbott also agreed to support Hidalgo County’s efforts to contract with a hotel to provide more beds for recovering COVID-19 patients.

“By continuing to work together, we will overcome this challenge,” Abbott said.

After Abbott’s virtual meetings, which were closed to the public and media outlets, Saenz met with other elected officials and Kidd continued further discussions with local emergency management and hospital personnel to discuss their ongoing needs, the news release indicated.

State officials also noted that the Texas Department of State Health Services has fulfilled several requests for ventilators, hospital staffing, nursing home staffing, testing teams, epidemiology staff, lab staff, test collection kits and supplies, ambulance strike teams, oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders, morgue trailers, assorted medical supplies and various types of personal protective equipment (PPE).

“Additionally, numerous cases of Remdesivir have been sent to the Rio Grande Valley,” the news release stated about one of the drugs used to treat COVID-19.

TDEM has also distributed more than 3 million surgical masks, 1.4 million pairs of medical gloves, 280,000 face shields and 2.1 million n95 masks to Hidalgo and Cameron counties, officials said.