AUSTIN (KXAN) — Governor Greg Abbott announced Monday that the Texas Department of State Health Services will bring in medical personnel from out-of-state to assist healthcare facilities fight the growing number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The announcement came the same day Texas hit a record low number of ICU beds available.

KXAN has previously reported that Austin healthcare workers have hit a critical point, saying this is the busiest they have seen hospitals during the entire pandemic.

“I can’t even explain to another person who is not in the hospital with us, what it is like to call families of our COVID patients, and listen to their cries,” Anna Vu-Wallace, an internal medicine hospitalist, told KXAN Sunday.

In a release sent Monday, the governor named several additional actions he was requesting of various state agencies to combat COVID-19.

  • The governor also sent a letter to the Texas Hospital Association asking hospitals to voluntarily postpone medical procedures that are not necessary or immediate. KXAN has reached out to TMA to see if they plan to comply with that directive.
  • Gov. Abbott directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management and DSHS to open additional COVID-19 antibody infusion centers to treat patients that have COVID-19 but do not need hospitalization. The Lubbock location, which is already operational, will be expanded, and another site will open in San Antonio Tuesday.
  • The governor also directed agencies to expand vaccine availability.

“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,” Governor Abbott said in that release.

Baylor Scott & White confirmed to KXAN Monday they will begin postponing elective surgeries and procedures.

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Regional Chair of Surgery Dr. M. Haris Nazim says it’s the right move for the moment.

“This thing has really overwhelmed our resources. The ERs are full, I can tell you there are patients that are getting transported hundreds or thousands of miles away just to seek care. It may not be COVID related,” Dr. Nazim said.

In a statement, the Texas Hospital Association responded to Abbott’s decision, saying “this surge is nothing like anything we’ve ever seen. Hospitals are doing everything in their power to figure this out. Staffing is a critical issue and this spike is unsustainable without help. Many hospitals have already idled non-essential service and are offering bonuses and incentive pay just to keep staff.