Texas reports COVID-19 case spike in Amarillo with targeted testing strategy

governor greg abbott coronavirus press conference 4-21-20

Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, delivers remarks during a press conference on April 21, 2020, updating the public on the state’s response to COVID-19. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

AMARILLO, Texas (KXAN) — A reported spike in positive COVID-19 cases in the Amarillo area is a result of the state’s targeted testing strategy, according to a release from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

The Amarillo Public Health Department reported 734 new, combined coronavirus cases in Potter and Randall County on Saturday.

The City of Amarillo says the increase in the number of positive cases is due to an increase in testing volume for COVID-19, KAMR-TV in Amarillo reports.

According to KXAN’s coronavirus tracking, Texas had 1,801 new cases on Saturday, which is by far the largest single-day increase during the pandemic. The previous high for a single-day case count was 1,448 on Thursday.

On May 4, Gov. Abbott sent a Surge Response Team (SRT) to Amarillo to begin testing people in high risk areas like meat packing facilities. According to a release from his office, the state is seeing the results of that testing and “will continue to see these results in targeted areas over the next two weeks.”

The SRT is made up of Medical Incident Support Team personnel from the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force and members of the Texas National Guard.

Local leaders along with the United States Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control, the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Texas Department of State Health Services are also responding to the outbreak, the release says.

Plants with widespread outbreaks have temporarily shut down for thorough disinfection, the release says. Gov. Abbott also announced the state is sending an additional allotment of remdesivir to Amarillo, which is a drug used to treat the virus.

“As Texas continues ramping up its testing capabilities, there will be an increase in positive cases as the state targets the most high-risk areas: nursing homes, meat packing plants and jails,” said Gov. Abbott. “That is exactly why I established Surge Response Teams. By immediately deploying resources and supplies to these high risk areas, we will identify the positive cases, isolate the individuals and ensure any outbreak is quickly contained, which is the strategy being deployed in Amarillo.”

The state provided an update on Amarillo’s healthcare capacity, as well.

As of Saturday, there are 516 hospital beds available, 236 surge beds available and 110 ventilators available in the Amarillo region. The state reports it has the ability to move more ventilators into the area if necessary.

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