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Gov. Abbott Says 'Heroes' Are Stepping Up To Combat COVID-19 Challenges In Texas

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Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT

Gov. Greg Abbott is touting examples of Texans helping Texans during the coronavirus pandemic.

At a news briefing Wednesday, he said Texas companies have stepped forward to increase production of personal protective equipment. He cited Prestige Ameritech in North Richland Hills, which is working with the Texas National Guard to create 2 million face masks per week. Another company, Reyes Automotive in San Antonio, is expected to start making 5,000 face shields a day for health care workers in Texas.

“Whenever Texas faces challenges, we see heroes surface to help respond to those challenges,” Abbott said. “Just like we saw so many Texans helping others in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, we’re seeing the exact same thing take place today as we see Texans respond to the coronavirus in our state.” 

Abbott said he understands Texans have been struggling to get through to Texas Workforce Commission, which handles the state's unemployment benefits system. On March 26, he said, TWC saw the largest spike in calls it’s ever received – 1.7 million. He said the agency will likely receive more unemployment claims in the five weeks since the surge than in all of 2019.

Abbott said TWC has been hiring additional staff to process claims more quickly and about 250 members of the Texas Legislature are pitching in to help out.

With regard to tests, the Texas Department of State Health Services said 96,258 have been administered in the state, and 9,353 people have tested positive. There have been 177 fatalities related to COVID-19 in the state.

Abbott said it now takes twice as long for the number of positive cases to double than it did two weeks ago.

“What that means is the sacrifices you are making right now to distance yourself from others, they’re paying off,” he said.

He acknowledged other states, such as New York and Washington, have done more testing.

“Has New York tested more?” Abbott said. “Yes. They have had a far more deadly situation than what Texas has had. As a result, they have received more early-on testing equipment from the federal government.”

He said the amount of testing Texas has is adequate to form the data models needed to make decisions, and he believes the state will have plenty of testing capability going forward.

“Testing is helpful, especially to isolate those who have" COVID-19, Abbott said. “But testing is not a solution. The solution is one thing, and that is to follow the stay-at-home orders so you reduce your chances of contracting COVID-19.”

This post has been updated. 

Got a tip? Email Marisa Charpentier at mcharpentier@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @marisacharp.

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