Texas juggles protective supplies, space as doctors ration and virus hotspots linger

Texas Politics

Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, delivers remarks on Aug. 4, 2020 at the largest Texas Division of Emergency Management warehouse, located in San Antonio, where personal protective equipment is taken in and distributed to Texas communities. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

SAN ANTONIO (Nexstar) — Two things in demand but not always available as the state continues to manage the COVID-19 crisis: protective supplies and physical space.

Gov. Greg Abbott addressed both Tuesday in a series of visits to areas in need.

“We have abundant supplies to make sure that we will be able to continue to provide PPE to schools, to hospitals, to nursing homes, to testing sites to any operation in the state of Texas,” Abbott said, visiting the state’s largest supply distribution warehouse— located in San Antonio.

The state has set up 40 warehouses across Texas to ensure PPE is distributed to those who need it, Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd said.

TDEM has distributed millions of masks, gowns, gloves and face shields, state leaders reported Tuesday.

“Even though we’re in a comfortable place, we don’t know how long this is going to take,” Dr. Leighton Ellis of North Austin Pediatrics said, cautiously optimistic about the restoration of the supply chain.

“We definitely have enough hand sanitizer now, thanks to all the distilleries,” she said.

Some schools, and doctors, said they haven’t always received everything right away that they request.

“When we place an order for PPE, we are getting PPE that comes in, but it tends to be in restricted quantities,” Dr. Rodney Young of Texas Tech University’s Health Sciences Center said.

“So you might get, you know, 20-25% of what you ordered, it might take a little bit longer to come in,” he said. “We do still have to be careful about rationing supplies of PPE and using it in the places where the risk is the highest.”

While the state works to keep up the supply chain statewide, medical providers in the Rio Grande Valley face additional challenges. Hospitals are so overrun that the McAllen Convention Center had to open up for its first patients Tuesday. Abbott visited there Tuesday afternoon.

“This is going to be a very effective relief valve as needed for local hospitals, whether it be in Hidalgo County or the surrounding counties to make sure that hospitals will not be overloaded,” he said in McAllen.

A similar facility in Harlingen, in nearby Cameron County, is being set up to alleviate hospital capacity in the area, Abbott said.

“The health care needs of the people in this region are first and foremost among our parties in the State of Texas and this is one of the strategies that we are using to make sure those healthcare needs are being met,” Abbott said.

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