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COVID numbers on the rise again

By Dawn Burleigh

After a short-lived reprieve, the number of COVID cases are on the rise again as the Delta variant starts to spread as well.

Governor Greg Abbott announced on Wednesday that Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has arranged for the deployment of more than 2,500 medical personnel to help hospitals care for the increasing number of COVID-19 patients across Texas. This operation follows the Governor’s directive earlier this week that DSHS utilize staffing agencies to provide out-of-state medical personnel to Texas health care facilities to mitigate the surge of COVID-19 cases in Texas. This first deployment of personnel will be fully funded by the state through September 30.

“The State of Texas is taking action to ensure that our hospitals are properly staffed and supported in the fight against COVID-19,” Abbott said. “Texans can help bolster the state’s efforts to combat the virus by getting vaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, and it is our best defense against the virus.”

In Orange County, the grand total has risen by over a 1,000 since June 8, 2021. Currently, 388 active cases are being reported with 33 hospitalized with COVID. This is the highest number reported hospitalized for the virus since January 27, 2021 when 29 were reported as hospitalized. At that time there were four on ventilators and this week 10 are reported on ventilators.

New numbers reported are five persons were vaccinated and three are reinfections of the virus. There are zero vaccinated deaths reported at this time.

Abbott also announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is providing approximately $267 million in emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits for the month of August as the state continues its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Emergency SNAP benefits have helped millions of eligible Texas families and individuals put food on the table as they navigate the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” Abbott said. “These supplemental benefits from HHSC will help continue to provide crucial support to Texans in need across the Lone Star State.”

“These emergency SNAP benefits continue to help Texans during the ongoing pandemic by providing food for individuals and their families,” said Texas HHS Access and Eligibility Services Deputy Executive Commissioner Wayne Salter. “We are happy to continue to support that need.”

HHSC received federal approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to extend the maximum, allowable amount of SNAP benefits to recipients based on family size, and all SNAP households are receiving a minimum of $95 in emergency allotments.

The emergency August allotments are in addition to the more than $3.9 billion in benefits previously provided to Texans since April 2020.

Recipients will also continue to receive a 15 percent increase in their total benefits, which will continue monthly until September 2021. This 15 percent increase and the additional emergency allotment amount should appear in recipients’ accounts by August 31.

Abbott is also directing the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and DSHS to open additional COVID-19 antibody infusion centers in communities across the state. These infusion centers will treat COVID-19 patients who do not need hospitalization with therapeutic drugs that can prevent their condition from worsening and requiring hospital care. These centers also help increase bed capacity in hospitals so that resources are available for the most ill patients. The existing infusion center in Lubbock will expand capacity this week, and DSHS will launch five new centers throughout Texas beginning with a facility in San Antonio tomorrow. The State deployed similar measures in early 2021 to communities across Texas. Patients must meet certain criteria and have a referral from a doctor.

Abbott is also directing TDEM and DSHS to increase vaccination availability across the state and encourages all Texans to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Texans can visit covidvaccine.texas.gov to find a provider near them. Texans can also utilize TDEM’s State Mobile Vaccine Program by calling 844-90-TEXAS and selecting Option 3 to schedule a mobile vaccine clinic to vaccinate groups of of friends, families, employees, volunteers, and more. Homebound Texans can also call 844-90-TEXAS and choose Option 1 to request a mobile vaccine team to come to their home.

“The State of Texas is taking action to combat the recent rise in COVID-19 cases and ensure that our hospitals and communities have the resources and support they need to mitigate the virus,” Abbott said. “Texans can help bolster our efforts by getting vaccinated against COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, and it is our best defense against this virus. Texans can visit covidvaccine.texas.gov to find a COVID-19 vaccine provider near them.”