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Texas sending more relief medical workers to hospitals, opening additional antibody infusion centers

Gov. Greg Abbott
Gov. Greg Abbott(Credit: Michael Gonzalez for The Texas Tribune)
Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 6:05 PM CDT
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(TEXAS TRIBUNE) - Texas will double the number of state-funded relief medical workers that health officials are sending into hospitals and open more COVID-19 antibody infusion centers next week in an effort to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed by increasing numbers of seriously ill patients, Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday.

Some 2,700 nurses and other medical staff are being deployed this week to hard-hit hospitals in areas like Dallas and Houston, where record numbers of unvaccinated patients suffering from the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 are threatening to overwhelm ICUs and emergency rooms.

That number goes up to 5,500 next week, an attempt to fill a critical nursing shortage that has left hundreds of Texas hospitals without the capacity to care for patients — during a surge many health officials believe is the worst to hit the state since the pandemic began.

After weeks of requests for help by hospitals, Abbott ordered the Texas Department of State Health Services on Aug. 9 to send reinforcements. The relief personnel will be paid for by the state through the end of September.

Abbott also announced new state-run antibody infusion centers would be open in Beaumont and Odessa next week, in addition to several that have opened or reopened recently in areas including San Antonio, Austin and Corpus Christi.

Monoclonal antibody infusions, which have emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, are proven to reduce hospitalization rates and the severity of COVID-19 in people who tested positive for the virus, health care officials said.

“Front-line health care workers across our state are working tirelessly to keep Texans healthy and safe,” Abbott said. “The substantial increase of infusion centers will reduce hospitalizations, and the added medical personnel will help treat COVID-19 patients already in hospitals.”

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