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Texas Officials Are Working To Meet 'High Demand' For Protective Gear From Hospitals

An ambulance parked outside St. David's South Austin Medical Center.
Gabriel C. Pérez
Hospitals across Texas are warning of a shortage of personal protective gear for medical staff during the coronavirus outbreak.

State officials say they are trying to get protective gear to medical staff at hospitals across Texas as quickly as possible, as the coronavirus continues to spread.

During a press briefing Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott said he’s been hearing a “high demand” from hospitals for personal protective equipment – commonly known as PPE. He said hospital administrators say they are afraid of running out of gowns, face shields, gloves and masks.

“They need this type of equipment,” Abbott said. “And I am proud to say we are loaded with a lot of equipment.”

The governor said Texas has already been sending out thousands of face masks across the state, as well as other supplies.

Carrie Kroll, the vice president of advocacy, quality and public health for the Texas Hospital Association, said hospitals are anticipating a crunch on supplies as more COVID-19 cases show up in their facilities.

Pretty much every hospital has submitted some level of a request through the state system for additional supply in hopes that they will have something that comes online as they see this patient surge," Kroll said. "That they will be prepared."

Kroll said Texas hospital administrators are taking the safety of their medical staff seriously.

Doctors in some of those hospitals, however, say it’s going to be difficult to protect staff without the proper resources.

One doctor at a hospital in Central Texas – who asked to remain anonymous – said there are currently strict limits on when medical staff at the hospital could wear PPE.

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“Our administrator is telling us, 'Well, you shouldn’t be wearing anything at all if [the patient] is not having respiratory symptoms,'" they said. “I think that is causing a lot of frustration and also a lot of anxiety.”

The coronavirus is highly contagious and can be spread even when people don’t show symptoms.

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In an effort to deal with more COVID-19 cases in hospitals, Abbott said the state has created what’s called a “supply chain taskforce" to make sure the state has enough gear to protect medical personnel. Abbott said the taskforce placed an order Monday for more than $80 million worth of supplies.

Abbott also said by the end of this week, emergency officials in Texas will receive about 100,000 masks per day. Altogether, he said, Texas should be getting a million masks by the end of next week.

Ashley Lopez covers politics and health care. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @AshLopezRadio.
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