Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks at a press conference at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, May 18.
Lynda M. Gonzalez Pool | Getty Images
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Thursday the state would hire 2,500 additional medical workers from across the country to ease pressure on the state health system from the spike in Covid this summer.
Texas only began calling for outside help two weeks ago when Abbott announced that the Texas Department of State Health Services had coordinated an initial wave of over 2,500 foreign workers to respond to the Delta variant. With this latest addition, the state will have approximately 8,100 outside medical staff, including nurses and respiratory therapists.
Covid patients currently occupy more than half of all intensive care beds in Texas, compared to 30% nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Health.
“The medical staff and equipment deployed by DSHS will be instrumental in helping our healthcare facilities deal with COVID-19 cases in the hospital,” Abbott said in a statement.
The Texas health department also sells ventilators, hospital beds, heart monitors and oxygen machines, the statement said. More than a quarter of the nearly 52,000 registered hospital inpatients in Texas have Covid, HHS recorded on Thursday.
Texas also announced the opening of nine monoclonal antibody infusion centers earlier this month, offering current Covid patients a treatment option to limit serious illness and hospital stays. Abbott has said it supports vaccines and the use of antibodies, but opposes mask and vaccination regulations, bans local governments and schools from meeting these requirements, and threatens anyone who does not obey a $ 1,000 fine.
Although the pace of rising cases in Texas has slowed recently, the state still reported a seven-day average of 16,970 new cases on Wednesday, a 10% increase from a week, according to a CNBC analysis of data from the Johns Hopkins University. However, health officials have warned that slowing infection rates is not necessarily a reliable barometer of progress against the coronavirus.
“I think it’s important to realize that case numbers usually go up and then stabilize, but unfortunately hospitalization rates go up after that and stabilize later,” Dr. Barbara Taylor, assistant dean and professor of infectious diseases at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, said in an interview with CNBC. “Usually it’s delayed by at least a couple of weeks.”