AUSTIN, Texas - For many in Texas, staying at home has been the new normal since late March. Businesses considered nonessential remain shut down.
Protecting hospital capacity is the goal and on Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott said that plan seems to be working. “As of today there are 1491 Texans hospitalized as a result of their connection with COVID-19,” said Abbott.
Currently, there’s a little more than 21,000 open hospital beds in Texas. An additional 2,200 are intensive care unit beds. 7,686 ventilators are also available. The current situation in Texas has made it possible for the governor to start talking with federal officials on a way to allow some businesses to reopen.
When asked for details, the governor indicated the plan may be phased in. “There still are in the state of Texas about 80 to 90 counties that have zero cases of COVID-19 what we don’t know yet is whether or not those counties would be categorized as more likely than others to be able to open up, it may be based upon the trajectory; is the trend going down in a particular county or area,” said Abbott.
The governor couldn’t say when his return to work strategy would start. He only said that it could be coming soon.
Like everything else, it all hinges on the outbreak. State Health Officer Dr. John Hellerstedt said the numbers may be indicating the outbreak could be slowing. “We are making progress but I would like to see the progress continue before I think we could make any valid prediction about exactly when the peak would occur,” said Hellerstedt.
A big focus continues to be getting medical supplies to hard-hit areas that are still experiencing a spike in cases, places like Harris County that recently received 125,000 masks, according to the governor. He went on to praise small businesses and individuals who have been making face shields and other items.
State Emergency Management Director Nim Kidd showcased equipment from two big companies trying to provide a more reliable supply chain. “And while it looks simple this is a life-saving device right now,” said Kidd.
Kidd held up a face shield made by Reyes Automotive, a parts supplier to the Toyota plant in San Antonio. The governor also spoke about a dedicated assembly line at Prestige Ameritech in Tarrant County. Members of the National Guard are at the site helping to pack boxes. This and other efforts are paying off, according to the governor.
“Over the course of this week, we are assembling and disseminating almost five million masks across the state of Texas,” said Abbott.
The governor said they are also hiring more people to handle the calls coming into the Texas Workforce Commission. He went on to say anyone who was denied benefits before the outbreak should reapply because of the changes made since then.
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