After surveying hurricane damage, Gov. Abbott announces new COVID-19 resources for Rio Grande Valley


AUSTIN (KXAN) — After surveying damage caused by Hurricane Hanna, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday additional medical resources to help communities in the Rio Grande Valley deal with their ongoing struggles with COVID-19.

During his second news conference of the day in Weslaco, the governor shared that the McAllen Convention Center will open this week as an alternate care center. He said it would have the capacity to treat as many as 250 patients, though that number is flexible depending on the types of needs that local hospitals are experiencing.

Abbott shared that multiple locations are opening in the area to serve as “step down sites,” where patients diagnosed with COVID-19 can go to finish their recoveries. Those include sites in Laredo, Pharr, Harlingen and another to be determined in Starr County.

The governor also announced that additional medical staff members are coming to the region. He said the U.S. Department of Defense will send 85-person teams to several communities, including Corpus Christi and Harlingen. The U.S. Army Reserve will also provide support by deploying teams to the area.

Nim Kidd, the chief for the Texas Division of Emergency Management, said Tuesday that these resources are in addition to the more than 2,000 medical professionals already in the area assisting with the COVID-19 response.

Before delivering these updates, Abbott posted tweets showing aerial photos that he took of flooding and other damage caused by Hurricane Hanna.

Before talking to reports in Weslaco, the governor held another news conference Tuesday at the Anchor Ballroom on the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi campus. Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales joined him and discussed that the hurricane caused no deaths in that area.

In an interview with KVEO in Brownsville, Texas, Gov. Abbott said the state will provide the Rio Grande Valley area with all the resources it will need to respond to both COVID-19 and hurricane damage, including food, beds, socially distant shelter and PPE.

He also said that people still need to limit large gatherings due to COVID-19. The Rio Grande Valley remains a COVID-19 hotpsot.

“It’s so incredibly important, that everyone in the Rio Grande Valley understands that just because this hurricane and flooding has come, it doesn’t mean that COVID has left,” he said.

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