Department of Defense sends teams to assist hospitals in COVID-19 crisis

State Capital Highlights



COVID-19 turned aggressive to the point last week that the Department of Defense activated U.S. Army and U.S. Navy medical task force teams and assigned them to Texas at Gov. Greg Abbott’s request.

Teams were deployed to support Houston and San Antonio hospitals and medical facilities in hard-hit Rio Grande Valley. The Texas Division of Emergency Management was on the job, too, working with local officials to line up additional hospital capacity in Cameron and Hidalgo counties and to identify other sites to house patients who are recovering from COVID 19.

Some $41 million in federal funds are being put toward assisting cities and counties in the COVID-19 response, Abbott said. Those funds will be used by local government for first responder overtime and hazard pay, equipment and supplies for teleworking technologies, social distancing and personal protective gear, county jail costs associated with medical needs of inmates and as reimbursement for holding inmates awaiting transfer to the state prison system.

Cumulative figures posted July 19 by the Texas Department of State Health Services showed some 325,030 people in Texas diagnosed with the deadly virus, and 3,958 confirmed deaths resulting from the disease.

It’s hot, so be careful

With summer air temperatures reaching 100 degrees and higher, the Texas Department of Public Safety on July 14 reminded the public to take extra heat-related safety precautions.

Children, the sick, elders and pets should not be left alone in vehicles. Drivers should always check all passenger and cargo areas before walking away from their vehicle, the DPS said.

Jobless rate improves

Texas added 243,900 private sector positions in June, resulting in an unemployment rate of 8.6%, the Texas Workforce Commission reported July 17. The state’s unemployment rate in May was 13.0%.

The Amarillo Metropolitan Statistical Area recorded the lowest nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate in June among Texas MSAs with 6%, followed by Abilene at 6.4% and College Station- Bryan at 6.5%.

The national unemployment rate stood at 11.1% in June.

Agency releases data

More information about oil and gas field cleanup programs are publicly available now, the Texas Railroad Commission announced July 15.

Data posted at rrc.texas. gov/data-visualization/ includes bar graphs, an interactive Texas map, a list of counties and other search options.

“These latest additions will help the public and energy industry operators easily see key aspects of the important work we do in protecting the safety of Texans and the environment,” said Texas Railroad Commission Executive Director Wei Wang.

ED STERLING is the Director of Member Services at Texas Press Association.

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