Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is seeking help from the Biden administration in dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in Texas after the state Department of Health has said they no longer have antibody treatment has proven to be most effective against the Omicron variant.
Abbott released a statement Friday saying the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) are providing resources for federally sponsored test sites in Bexar counties, Cameron, Dallas, Harris, Hidalgo and Tarrant have requested.
The governor said the state’s Department of Health has also requested three teams of medical personnel to assist hospitals in urban areas of the state that do not have DSHS contract staff, as well as additional allocations of monoclonal antibody treatments to combat the variant of Omicron and other variants of the virus.
“Detecting COVID-19 and preventing hospital admissions related to COVID are critical to our fight against this virus.” Abbott said in a prepared statement. “Test sites, additional medical staff, and continued deliveries of therapeutics from the federal government will help us continue to save lives and contain the spread of COVID-19.”
The governor said in a statement on Friday “The Biden government has cut supplies of monoclonal antibody treatments and test kits when they are needed most.
Since March 2021, The governor has affirmed his position that containment efforts such as mask or vaccine mandates are not a matter for the state and instead urged Texans to take personal responsibility and use the tools they know they know to help fight the pandemic function.
Meanwhile, as new cases of COVID-19 increase, infusion centers across the state are set to their supply of sotrovimab has been exhausted, currently a monoclonal antibody therapeutic available under an emergency use authorization to treat people infected with the more highly transmissible variant of Omicron.
According to the state agency, the shortage of the therapeutic is due to a national shortage. The centers are expected to receive new supplies in early January, as previously announced by the federal government.
Earlier this week, the DSHS said other monoclonal antibodies were not effective against the Omicron variant, which now accounts for more than 90% of new cases; on Friday the DSHS said an additional allotment of sotrovimab was asked to help treat the increasing numbers of infected Texans.
The agency also called for the federal government to continue supplying Texas with Regeneron and Bamlanivimab, monoclonal antibody treatments that have been shown to help reduce hospital stays across the state for people suffering from other strains of COVID-19.
President Joe Biden said last week The federal government wanted to buy half a billion COVID-19 rapid test kits and distribute them to people at home for free. But despite the high public demand for tests, it will be a few more weeks before these kits are ready to ship. The administration is still working on details of how the program will work.
COVID cases are mounting in DFW, Texas
Over the past week, the number of new cases of COVID-19 has skyrocketed across the state as hospital admissions in DFW have doubled. The molecular positivity rate the state health department reported Thursday at an all-time high since the beginning of the pandemic almost two years ago.
On Tuesday, the Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas reported that the number of patients had doubled in just four days. The hospital said staff are preparing to open two more COVID-19 wards by the end of this week. Dr. Joseph Chang, chief medical officer at Parkland, said most COVID-19 patients who end up in hospital are unvaccinated.