Texas Gov. Greg Abbott receiving monoclonal antibody infusions

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday.

In a social media video recorded at the governor’s mansion, Abbott said, "I test myself everyday and [Tuesday] is the first day that I tested positive."

Abbott says he is fully vaccinated and asymptotic. "His immune system was already ready to fight that virus." said emergency room doctor Natasha Kathuria.

Abbott tested positive for COVID-19 one day after he addressed a crowd at a "standing room only" event in Collin County.

"Even [Abbott] got COVID. So, it’s very important that people wear masks and social distance as much as possible. This new Delta variant, it is significantly more contagious than we've ever seen with COVID," said Kathuria.

Abbott’s spokesperson Mark Miner says he is receiving Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment.

"[Regeneron] is the best one that we have based on our data right now… But it has to work in a certain amount of time. It doesn't work when patients are very sick. So, when a patient is already on oxygen and already admitted to the hospital, unfortunately, they no longer meet criteria for that antibody infusion." said Kathuria.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission urges Texans in need of monoclonal antibody treatment to call 1-800-742-5990.

Monday the Travis County Exposition Center reopened as an infusion center, utilizing state resources.

To receive monoclonal antibody treatment through the state, HHSC says a patient must test positive for COVID-19, have experienced symptom onset within the last ten days and be at high risk of severe illness. Risk factors include:

  • 65 years of age and older
  • Have moderate to severe obesity
  • Have certain chronic medical conditions

Kathuria noted it is unusual for an asymptomatic patient to be provided with monoclonal antibody treatment, stating providers typically wait until a patient exhibits mild symptoms before beginning treatment. 

"I think obviously with the governor, he's trying to be as cautious as he can." she said.

According to HHSC, those hospitalized with COVID-19, or requiring oxygen therapy because of COVID-19 or another condition are not eligible for the treatment.

"[Monoclonal antibody treatment is] not as effective as getting the vaccine. That data is unequivocally better, but it is something that we can still use even in our vaccinated patients who are getting breakthrough infections." said Kathuria. 

"I think the governor testing positive really just demonstrates how we’re all at risk, whether we’re vaccinated or not," said Cindy Zolnierek, the CEO of the Texas Nurses Association, who considers it a good reminder that vaccination isn’t the end-all. "When you’re vaccinated, wearing a mask will provide another level of protection and if you’re vaccinated and you’re asymptomatic and you don’t know you’re infected, wearing a mask will prevent you from transmitting the virus to others."

Meanwhile Texas hospitals and staff are being overwhelmed.

"It’s all of the above with staffing, nurses are very tired, some are saying I can’t do this anymore and resigning, I’m hearing that constantly," Zolnierek said. "So there is still a lot that we need the public to do to keep people from needing hospitalization." 

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