Gov. Greg Abbott announces influx of medical supplies for coronavirus treatment

Laura Morales

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.

Texas will distribute more Personal Protective Equipment across the state, with more expected to be coming in as a result of the supply chain strike force, Gov. Greg Abbott said in a press conference Monday. 

Within the last 24 hours, the state has received 2.5 million masks, with more arriving this week, Abbott said. The state will distribute this equipment to hospitals in direct contact with COVID-19 patients first. As of Monday afternoon, there are 7,319 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Texas.  

“I feel more confident now than I ever have with regards to access to PPE supplies,” Abbott said. “Knowing the information that I have and the visibility of what is coming in, Texas looks to be very well supplied.”

Abbott said the Department of State Health Services has distributed approximately 1.6 million face masks, 200,000 face shields, 2.7 million gloves, 169,000 gowns and 7,000 coveralls. There are 21,000 hospital beds open statewide and 6,000 ventilators available. 

“We are a week or two behind states like California and New York,” Abbott said. “What we are preparing for is increased numbers in the people testing positive and in the hospital.”

Abbott previously issued an executive order to create the supply chain strike force, which collects supplies from manufacturers across the world and distributes those supplies to areas in need. The federal supplies comprise a small amount compared to what the strike force has collected, Abbott said. 

John Hellerstedt, Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner, said distributions to the hospitals and EMS workers that are treating COVID-19 patients are prioritized. 

Nim Kidd, Texas Division of Emergency Management chief, said the Hospital Preparedness Program is overseeing the distribution of the supplies and using the Texas Military Department Armories. He also emphasized the need for every healthcare facility to keep invoices so the state can apply for federal reimbursements. 

“Every human that is spending money in response to COVID-19 needs to keep their invoices,” Kidd said. “As the federal government rolls out how their dollars will be distributed, it will be very important to have those to accurately report.”

In addition to the supply chain update, Abbott said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced Texans should be receiving direct deposits beginning next week. The state will be receiving federal aid funds on April 24. He also urged small businesses to apply to the stimulus bill loans as soon as possible at their local banks.