Governor Abbott Directs HHSC To Expand COVID-19 Testing To All State Hospitals, State Supported Living Centers

May 21, 2020 | Austin, Texas | Press Release

Governor Greg Abbott today directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to expand COVID-19 testing to all patients, residents, and staff at the 23 state-operated inpatient psychiatric hospitals and living centers throughout Texas.

"By expanding widespread COVID-19 testing to our state hospitals and state supported living centers, we are better equipped to identify and mitigate these potential hot spots and protect our most vulnerable populations," said Governor Abbott. "I thank HHSC for their ongoing partnership to provide more testing at these facilities across the state."

HHSC operates 13 state supported living centers (SSLCs) that provide 24-hour residential care, medical services, and vocational training for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The agency also operates 10 state hospitals that provide acute inpatient psychiatric care for adults, children and adolescents.

“Many patients and residents in our care are medically fragile and rely on our frontline healthcare heroes for the important care they receive. By expanding testing to everyone in our facilities, we will increase our ability to further protect everyone who lives and works in our facilities and prevent the spread of the virus throughout our system,” said HHS Executive Commissioner Phil Wilson.

Today’s announcement expands testing to all patients, residents and staff to further assess the scope and extent of possible infections at facilities statewide. Previously, residents and patients were tested if they displayed symptoms of COVID-19 or had possible exposure to the virus. The new round of testing will cover those who have shown no signs of COVID-19 or have not been tested within the last 30 days.

HHSC is working with the Texas Department of State Health Services to expand testing for the 4,700 patients and residents as well as 18,000 employees at the SSLCs and state hospitals. Testing kits are already making their way to the facilities and several local health departments have offered their assistance. 

As of May 20, a total of 161 patients and residents have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 107 individuals have recovered from the virus and fewer than 10 residents and/or patients have died. The latest aggregate data on COVID-19 cases at state hospitals and SSLCs can be found here.

All facilities continue to follow strict adherence to CDC guidelines in place to protect the health and safety of residents, patients and staff. All staff wear masks and are trained in infection control procedures, proper use of personal protective equipment and social distancing measures. Visitor restrictions to state hospitals and SSLCs remain in place and HHSC continues to screen all employees for fever and respiratory illness prior to entering its facilities. Any person with a fever or unexplained signs of respiratory illness is not allowed entrance to HHSC facilities.

For more information about the care provided at state hospitals and SSLCs, click here.