AUSTIN (KXAN) — New video shows the Texas National National Guard deep cleaning and disinfecting an Austin long-term care facility.
Guard forces were seen wiping down walls, surfaces, and door handles at West Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in South Austin, while dressed in personal protective equipment from head-to-toe.
According to the Department of Defense, National Guard forces are helping facilities which have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus outbreak.
On Wednesday, Governor Greg Abbott announced he activated six Facilities Disinfection Teams, mobilized to nursing homes across the state.
“The Texas National Guard plays a crucial role in our ongoing response to COVID-19, and I am grateful for their work to address the unique challenges our nursing homes face during this pandemic,” said Governor Abbott. “The training these Guardsmen have received will equip them with the knowledge and tools they need to provide this crucial assistance to these facilities.”
According to a release by from the Governor’s office, each team is equipped with unique supplies such as advanced personal protective equipment, ionized sprayers, and vital oxide. The teams received training from the Texas Military Department 6th Civil Support Team, who specialize in man-made and natural disaster assessment and rapid response in hazardous environments.
“The Texas National Guard readily accepts this newest mission assignment,” said Major General Tracy Norris. “We take our charge of protecting all Texans, especially our most vulnerable populations, extremely seriously. Our service members have proactively trained for this mission alongside the Health and Human Services Commission and other partner agencies. We stand ready to continue to serve both here at home and abroad in the war fight.”
Of the state’s 1,121 deaths from the virus, 425 have been related to nursing homes. There have been 89 deaths in assisted living facilities statewide, according to state and Texas Health and Human Services data updated Monday.
HHSC still refuses to release the locations where the deaths happened, but KXAN has independently confirmed COVID-19 cases in at least 17 Central Texas senior facilities.
Regency Integrated Health Services, one of the largest nursing home operators in the state with 57 locations, including West Oaks, has confirmed four of its facilities have had a resident or staff member contract the virus. Regency has not confirmed how many residents or staff have tested positive in these facilities.
A spokesperson for Regency confirmed the video was shot inside West Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Two other Regency facilities received visits from the Texas National Guard: Riverside National Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Brenham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
“As rooms were individually cleaned, residents and staff were moved safely to different areas inside the facility. The well-being of our residents and staff are our top priority. We are grateful to the Texas Guard and the State of Texas for their help in ensuring our facilities are safe and our residents are protected,” the spokesperson said.