Gov. Abbott says Texas will continue to increase the number of COVID-19 tests, PPE available

Texas Governor Greg Abbott spoke with FOX4 Wednesday evening to discuss the state's continued fight to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The governor said the number of COVID-19 tests available to Texans will continue to increase, as private providers open up drive-thru testing sites.

The state has been able to increase testing by a compounded daily rate of 10 percent per day, and Texas will likely surpass 100,000 tested for the virus on Thursday.

Gov. Abbott added that about 90 percent of the people tested in Texas have been negative for COVID-19.

"We care dearly about the city of Dallas, about Dallas County, about the entire region. And we're goint to do everything we can to make sure that everybody in the Dallas area is taken care of the best possible way," Gov. Abbott said.

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Texas is among seven states where Walgreens is opening drive-thru testing sites.

The company said it'll roll this out at 15 locations across the states, testing up to 3,000 people per day. They will offer thousands of test each day, but where the test sites will be located is still being worked out.

The company says right now, the locations “are planned for select hot spot markets with escalating rates of COVID-19 cases.” Gov. Abbott explained that these tests will be able to provide results in about 15 minutes.

But with Harris County cases ramping up, it’s unclear if any of that testing will come to North Texas. The governor said that during a phone call, Vice President Mike Pence raised the issue about what’s unfolding in Harris County.

And while statewide officials shared some encouraging statistics, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

One spot the governor singled out during his briefing on Wednesday was Harris County. The county, and city of Houston, reported eight deaths Wednesday afternoon. Houston reported a dip in positive case numbers Wednesday, but is concerned by the high percentage of minority deaths.

“For many people of color, they don't have the luxury of working remotely from home,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

Statewide, officials are seeing some positive signs. The rate at which cases are doubling in the state has gone from every three days, in mid-March, to every six days now.

The governor said it’s evidence social distancing is working.

“By you staying home, you're ensuring that you are doing your part to make sure that you are not contracting COVID-19,” Gov. Abbott said.

RELATED: Texas Workforce Commission asks people to stagger unemployment calls

When asked about the number of Texans having problems filing for unemployment, Gov. Abbott said the Texas Workforce Commission had well over 1 million people file for unemployment benefits.

In order to help with the backlog, Abbott said TWC is adding hundreds of employees to help.

Several hundred staffers from members of the Texas House and Senate will also help Texans get their unemployment benefits. The TWC said it expects more calls in a five-week period than all of 2019.

The governor said if you're denied, apply again.

“They are urging workers whose claims were previously denied to reapply because many of them who were denied may now qualify as the state and federal labor departments have expanded programs to start the ease the fallout because of the record job losses,” Gov. Abbott explained.

The governor also gave an update on the supplies that healthcare workers need to continue the fight. He says a North Texas company will bring a continuous supply of personal protection equipment.

“Over the course of this week we are assembling and disseminating almost 5 million masks across the state of Texas,” Abbott said.

Earlier this week, the governor said the state had brought in about 1.6 million masks, nearly 3 million pairs of gloves, plus a large supply of gowns, face shields and coveralls.

Abbott highlighted Prestige Ameritech, a North Richland Hills company that has committed to ramping up production for Texas.

Prestige Ameritech manufactures a range of products, but it's only supplying them for healthcare workers.

“They are adding a shift manned in part by the Texas National Guard ramping up to be able to supply about 2 million face masks per week to be utilized by those who need them in Texas,” Abbott said.

The company is the nation's largest domestic surgical mask manufacturer. They operate out the old Kimberly Clark facility in North Richland Hills. They're no strangers to crisis. They helped out during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009.