AUSTIN (KXAN) — The state of Texas is requesting more COVID-19 resources to help fight a surge of COVID-19 cases largely brought on by holiday gatherings and the omicron variant.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday that through the Texas Division of Emergency Management and Texas Department of State Health Services, the state has requested additional testing locations, medical personnel and monoclonal antibody allocations from the federal government.
“Detecting COVID-19 and preventing COVID-related hospitalizations are critical to our fight against this virus,” said Abbott. “While the Biden administration has cut supplies of monoclonal antibody treatments and testing kits when they are needed most, the State of Texas is urging the federal government to step up in this fight and provide the resources necessary to help protect Texans.”
Monoclonal antibody treatments
Five regional infusion centers in Texas have run out of a monoclonal antibody that has shown to be effective against the omicron variant of COVID-19, the Texas Department of State Health Services said Monday.
DSHS said the centers in Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, San Antonio and The Woodlands have depleted their supplies of the monoclonal antibody called sotrovimab, because of a “national shortage from the federal government.”
Sotrovimab won’t be available at those centers until the federal government ships more of it to Texas in January. DSHS has requested additional allocations as a part of their recent request.
Texas requested additional testing sites based on current COVID-19 metrics, according to a release from the governor’s office. The locations for the requested sites are Bexar, Cameron, Dallas, Harris, Hidalgo and Tarrant counties.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confirmed to KXAN that the request for additional testing from the state has been approved, but said the exact locations and openings are “still being determined.”
Pres. Biden recently said the federal government will buy half a billion COVID-19 rapid test kits and distribute them free of charge for people to use at home. It’s not clear when those tests will be in the hands of Americans.
Texas has also requested three teams of medical personnel to help with hospitals in urban areas that does not have DSHS-contracted staff, according to the release.