Due to the ongoing fight against the spread of COVID-19, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott fully activated the Texas National Guard Tuesday and granted hospitals a waiver to allow them to increase the total number of unused beds without submitting an application or paying additional fees.
Abbott said the guard was being activated to ensure they'd be prepared to assist with coronavirus response efforts. The governor added that healthcare workers and first responders who are members of the Texas National Guard are excluded from this activation, "so that they can continue serving the people of Texas in their respective fields.,"
"By activating the Texas National Guard, we are ensuring Texas is prepared as we continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19," said Abbott. "I am grateful to the men and women of the National Guard for their dedication to serving their fellow Texans, and want to assure the public that this is a precautionary measure to make sure the Texas National Guard has the capability to serve at a moment's notice where they are needed most."
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The governor added that the state has been working with Texas National Guard Major General Tracy Norris since January on coronavirus plans
Abbott, who warned Texans to expect an "exponential increase" in COVID-19 cases, made the announcement before a call with hospital leaders from across the state to get an update on care capacities.
The governor also announced a temporary waiver for hospitals to increase unused bed capacity without submitting an application or associated fees to help ensure hospitals across the state have adequate care capacity for patients.
"Our hospitals and medical professionals are on the front lines of providing important care to Texans in need, and the state is working closely with networks and administrators to ensure they have the resources and capabilities to respond to COVID-19," said Abbott. "By working to expand hospital bed capacity, as well as meet staffing and equipment needs, Texas is ensuring our hospitals are able to care for those who contract COVID-19, while maintaining normal health care operations."