Gov. Greg Abbott will bring out-of-state medical personnel to Texas as COVID-19 cases surge with hospitals near capacity

Gov. Greg Abbott will bring out-of-state medical personnel to Texas as COVID-19 cases surge with hospitals near capacity
In this Tuesday, June 8, 2021, file photo, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas. AP Photo/Eric Gay, File
  • Only 394 ICU beds and 8,280 hospital beds are currently available across Texas.
  • Abbott said last week he would not impose lockdowns or mask mandates, despite surges in COVID-19 cases.
  • State health and emergency services were directed by Abbott to open additional antibody infusion centers.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced in an August 9 press release that he will bring out-of-state medical personnel to Texas health care facilities to assist in COVID-19 operations. Abbott also sent a letter to the Texas Hospital Association asking hospitals to voluntarily limit certain elective medical procedures.

August 9 data from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services shows that there are only 394 ICU beds and 8,280 hospital beds available statewide.

One trauma service area that serves 2.37 million people, including the city of Austin, only has six available ICU beds.

In Houston, Harris County Health System's two hospitals experienced an influx of COVID-19 patients in recent weeks, forcing them to set up overflow tents for additional patients, CNN reported.

Last week, Abbott said that he wouldn't impose any lockdowns or mask mandates, even as Texas reported the second-most new COVID-19 cases in the country. Abbott's decisions are at odds with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, which was revised on July 27 to recommend fully vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor settings.


"The State of Texas is taking action to combat the recent rise in COVID-19 cases and ensure that our hospitals and communities have the resources and support they need to mitigate the virus," Abbott said in the press release. "Texans can help bolster our efforts by getting vaccinated against COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, and it is our best defense against this virus."

Under Senate Bill 968, the state Legislature can compel the Texas Medical Board (TMB) to impose temporarily limit elective medical procedures for which delay will not result in death or deterioration of the patient's condition. However, Abbott said in the press release that the state should "always aim to achieve the least restrictive means of combatting this evolving threat to public health."

Additionally, Abbott encouraged hospitals to refer some COVID-19 patients to infusion sites to free up hospital beds for more serious cases. Infusion centers treat COVID-19 patients who do not need hospitalization with therapeutic drugs that can prevent their condition from worsening, increasing available hospital resources for severly ill patients, according to the press release.

The Texas Department of State Health Services and Texas Division of Emergency Management were instructed by Abbott in a letter to step up vaccination efforts and work with local officials to open additional infusion centers.

"By taking these voluntary measures, it is my hope that hospitals can avoid the need for an order from TMB under Senate Bill 968."


Insider has reached out to Gov. Abbott's office for comment.