Governor Abbott Holds Virtual Meeting On COVID-19 With Rio Grande Valley Leaders

July 21, 2020 | Austin, Texas | Press Release

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, 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.