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Government/Politics

Abbott Asks Hospitals To Delay Elective Surgeries As COVID-19 Cases Surge

A medical professional administers a COVID-19 test. Cases and hospitalizations have been surging over the last month.
A medical professional administers a COVID-19 test. Cases and hospitalizations have been surging over the last month.

Texas will bring in medical personnel from out of state to help treat COVID-19 patients in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott's office announced Monday. The governor is also asking hospitals to voluntarily postpone elective medical procedures — ones in which a delay won't cause death or a decline in a patient's condition — to help make more room for COVID patients.

The state actions come as the highly contagious delta variant spurs a rapid rise in cases, particularly among those who are not vaccinated. Only 53.55% of people 12 and older in Texas are fully vaccinated. The number of COVID patients in hospitals is on track to exceed the previous record — which was set in January — within a week, according to projections from UT Austin.

The governor also announced Monday he’s directing the Texas Division of Emergency Management and Department of State Health Services to open more COVID-19 antibody infusion centers across Texas. These centers treat COVID patients to prevent their condition from getting worse and requiring hospitalization.

The infusion center in Lubbock will be expanded this week, according to Abbott’s office, and five more locations will be set up, starting with one in San Antonio on Tuesday.

The governor is also telling state agencies to increase the availability of vaccines. Abbott “encourages all Texans to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” according to the press release.

"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. "Texans can help bolster our efforts by getting vaccinated against COVID-19.”

Abbott and health officials say the vaccine is the best defense against the virus. The vast majority of people hospitalized for COVID-19 are not vaccinated.

The governor has taken a largely hands-off approach to the current surge. Less than two weeks ago, Abbott issued an executive order preventing governmental entities from requiring people to get the vaccines or wear face masks. He said at the time “the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates.” The order also ended a previous order that required hospitals to postpone elective surgeries if COVID hospitalizations reach a certain threshold in a region.

People can find a vaccine provider near them here. They can also request assistance from the State Mobile Vaccine Program. By calling 844-90-TEXAS and choosing Option 3, they can schedule a mobile vaccine clinic to vaccinate a group (friends, families, employees, volunteers, etc.). Homebound residents can also call 844-90-TEXAS and select Option 1 to request a vaccination team come to their home.

Copyright 2021 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.