Abbott announces additional coronavirus testing, activates Texas Army National Guard

Gov. Greg Abbott announced the state’s health care systems will have the capability of testing 10,000 people a week for the coronavirus by the end of the week and that he also activated the Texas Army National Guard.

Activating the Guard is a precautionary measure, he emphasized, and there is no need to deploy them at this time.

“By activating the Texas National Guard, we are ensuring Texas is prepared as we continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said. “I am grateful to the men and women of the National Guard for their dedication to serving their fellow Texans, and want to assure the public that this is a precautionary measure to make sure the Texas National Guard has the capability to serve at a moment’s notice where they are needed most.”

Healthcare workers and first responders who are members of the Texas Army National Guard are excluded from this activation.

Texas joins more than 20 other states that have also activated their respective state Guards, including Arizona, California, and Florida, according to the National Governors Association.

COVID-19 testing is available through local health authorities and private providers, and the state is working with federal and local officials to replicate these efforts at drive-through testing sites in Houston, San Antonio and Dallas-Fort Worth.

The governor’s office also announced a live virtual Town Hall meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday. He will discuss the statewide response to the current coronavirus outbreak and will be joined by top officials from the Department of State Health Services, the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Texas Education Agency.

Viewers can participate by submitting questions through various social media channels using the hashtag #AskAbbott. Preference will be given to people who submit questions as videos instead of text messages.

“Along with our local and federal partners, we are aggressively working to expand our COVID-19 testing capabilities, protect the most vulnerable populations, and ensure that health care professionals and all Texans have access to the supplies and resources they need,” Abbott said in a statement. “We are all in this together and this televised town hall is an opportunity to provide an update on the status of Texas’ response.”

During a teleconference with hospitals Tuesday, Abbott said there are 64 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 19 counties.

COVID-19 is the official name of the disease caused by the new coronavirus, which originated in China in December. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, coughing and trouble breathing.

Most people who have it develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually the elderly and those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.

This article was first published by The Center Square.

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