Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces the activation of the Texas National Guard in response the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement was made from the Governor’s Conference Room in the Texas Department of Emergency Management Command Center. Abbott was joined by Chief Nim Kidd, head of the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
(Photo by Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune)

Gov. Greg Abbott today announced the activation of the Texas National Guard in response to mounting coronavirus concerns.

The announcement came early Tuesday afternoon as the governor began a video conference with officials from hospitals around the state. Despite the activation, “no National Guard need to be deployed at this time,” Abbott said.

“To make sure that we in the state of Texas are taking every step possible to make sure that we’re going to be capable of responding to what is going on, I am at this moment activating the Texas National Guard to assist in our response to COVID-19,” Abbott said.

Abbott added that those members of the Guard who are first responders or work in the healthcare industry will be exempted from the activation, “because they need to be on the front lines in making sure that we are providing all the health care that is needed for those who may contract COVID-19,” he said.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Texas had risen to 64 across 19 counties, the governor confirmed. The state has also recorded its first coronavirus-related death: a Matagorda County man in his 90s.

Counties with confirmed COVID-19 cases include: Bell, Bexar, Brazoria, Collin, Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Fort Bend, Galveston, Gregg, Harris, Hayes, Lavaca, Matagorda, Montgomery, Smith, Tarrant, Travis and Webb.

A total of 1,264 people had been tested for the virus statewide, though state leaders hope to ramp up testing capabilities to 10,000 people per week by the end of this week, Abbott said.

 

Some 15,000 test kits from FEMA are expected to arrive in the state soon. “Testing will be conducted in part by FEMA, in part by hospitals, in part by public health authorities, in part by these drive-thru facilities that you may see from some private providers…” Abbott said.