Texas sends virus team to Amarillo, Lubbock as cases spike

Nurses treat a patient at DHR Health in Edinburg, Texas, in one of several new COVID-19 units, on July 20, 2020. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

AMARILLO, Texas (AP) — Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday he is deploying medical personnel and supplies to the Texas Panhandle and surrounding region as the coronavirus surges again, marking the second time in two weeks the state has sent response teams because of rising caseloads.

Hospitalizations are increasing in Amarillo and Lubbock, mirroring overall numbers across the state.

An additional 100 medical workers will arrive at hospitals in the cities by Sunday, Abbott said. The state is also sending ventilators and oxygen concentrators.

“The additional medical personnel, supplies, and PPE surged to the Panhandle and South Plains will help these communities care for patients and contain the spread of this virus,” Abbott said.

Since Oct. 1, the number of people hospitalized because of COVID-19 has risen 34% in Texas after the state relaxed restrictions in mid-September, citing a decrease in hospitalizations.

It’s the second time the Panhandle has seen a virus spike this year. Abbott sent a “surge response team” there in May as cases erupted around meatpacking plants, and he kept some businesses in the region from reopening at the same speed as most places in Texas.

After positive cases dropped sharply, Abbott described the turnaround as a model for how Texas can extinguish hot spots.

Friday also was the first day of new virus regulations in El Paso, as cases spiked there. Abbott also has sent doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists and PPE to support hospitals there.

The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.