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Jul 22

July 22, 2020 TML Coronavirus Update #89

Posted on July 22, 2020 at 1:15 PM by TML Staff

Urgent Updates


What action has the governor taken to respond to virus spikes in the Rio Grande Valley?


The governor issued the following press release yesterday (July 21):


“Governor Greg Abbott today held virtual meetings with mayors, county judges, emergency managers, hospital executives, state legislators, and other local officials from Cameron and Hidalgo Counties to discuss the unified efforts to combat COVID-19 in these communities. The Governor and local leaders discussed the ongoing needs of the Valley and the ways the State of Texas can continue to assist these communities as they fight to protect public health and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The Governor also discussed the assets and resources that have been deployed to the Valley and asked for feedback on other needs. Additionally, the Governor and local leaders discussed the expansion of hospital capacity and staffing needs. Governor Abbott also agreed to support Hidalgo County's efforts to contract with a hotel to provide more beds for recovering COVID-19 patients. 


‘Our ongoing collaboration with local officials in the Rio Grande Valley is critical to effectively combating COVID-19 and keeping these communities safe,’ said Governor Abbott. ‘The State of Texas will continue to provide the support and resources that Valley leaders need to protect public health and mitigate the spread of this virus. By continuing to work together, we will overcome this challenge.’


Governor Abbott's Chief of Staff Luis Saenz and Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief (TDEM) Nim Kidd attended these meetings in person. Following the virtual meeting with Cameron County and Hidalgo County leadership, Saenz continued to visit with local elected officials, and Chief Kidd visited with local emergency management and hospital personnel to discuss their ongoing needs. 


Substantial resources have already been provided to the Rio Grande Valley with more on the way.


On Sunday (July 19), Governor Abbott announced that the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has deployed five U.S. Navy teams to four locations in South and Southwest Texas to help combat the spread of COVID-19. One U.S. Navy Acute Care Team is providing support at the Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen and four U.S. Navy Rural Rapid Response Teams are supporting hospitals in Del Rio, Eagle Pass, and Rio Grande City. The DOD has also deployed a U.S. Army Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force to provide medical and support professionals needed in Rio Grande Valley Hospitals. Previously, the Governor increased hospital capacity in Cameron and Hidalgo Counties by suspending elective surgeries.


The Texas Department of State Health Services has fulfilled several State of Texas Assistance Requests for ventilators, hospital staffing, nursing home staffing, testing teams, epidemiology staff, lab staff, test collection kits and supplies, ambulance strike teams, oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders, morgue trailers, assorted medical supplies and various types of personal protective equipment (PPE). Additionally, numerous cases of Remdesivir have been sent to the Rio Grande Valley.


TDEM has distributed PPE to Cameron and Hidalgo Counties as well. These distributions include over 3 million surgical masks, over 1.4 million pairs of medical gloves, over 280,000 face shields, over 2.1 million n95 masks, and more.” 


Further Updates


Has another lawsuit been filed related to voting rights during the pandemic?


Yes. According to The Texas Tribune, “two civil rights groups and two Texas voters are asking a federal judge to require substantial changes to polling place procedures, including an across-the-board mask mandate and expanded curbside voting.”


In a wide-ranging federal lawsuit filed Thursday in San Antonio, Mi Familia Vota, the Texas NAACP, and the voters claim the state’s current polling place procedures — including rules for early voting, the likelihood of long lines, and the governor’s decision to not require voters to wear masks — place an unconstitutional burden on voters while the virus remains in circulation.


That burden will be particularly high for Black and Latino voters whose communities have been disproportionately affected by the virus, the lawsuit argues.


Where can I find archived issues of the TML Coronavirus Updates?


TML Coronavirus Updates are archived by date here and by subject here.