Gov. Abbott activates Texas National Guard due to coronavirus

Austin Martinez

Editor’s note: This story is part of The Daily Texan’s coverage of how coronavirus concerns are affecting UT-Austin. Read the rest of our coverage here.

Gov. Greg Abbott activated the Texas National Guard to assist with the state’s response to COVID-19, the governor announced at a press conference today.

However, the National Guard will not be deployed at this time. Abbott said he has been working with the Texas National Guard on the state’s response to COVID-19 since January.

“The National Guard has been involved in this process from the beginning,” Abbott said. “I want to fully activate the National Guard, but no National Guard need to be deployed at this time. We just want to make sure that we have activated them (and) they know that they're going to be activated.”

Abbott is exempting first responders and health care workers from being called to work for the Texas National Guard.

“(Health care professionals) need to be on the front lines and making sure that we are providing all the health care that is needed for those who may contract COVID-19.”

Texas has 64 confirmed coronavirus cases across 19 counties, Abbott said. He confirmed Texas’ first death related to COVID-19, a 90-year-old man from Matagorda County.

“1,264 Texans have been tested across the state for COVID-19, and that number will continue to increase dramatically in the coming days,” Abbott said. 

Texas will receive 15,000 test kits from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Abbott said. Testing will be conducted by FEMA, hospitals and public health authorities, he said.

Abbott said he estimates Texas will be capable of testing about 10,000 individuals by the end of the week.

“We are having this meeting today to ensure that we remain ahead of the curve as it concerns, putting together everything that must be done … to ensure that your health and safety is going to be fully protected.”

This story has been updated to correct a factual error which incorrectly stated when the National Guard was last activated.