Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is asking the Biden administration for help in dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in Texas after the state Department of Health says it has run out of antibody treatment that has been shown to be the most effective against omicron variants.
Abbott issued a statement Friday stating that the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) requested resources for federally supported test sites in the counties of Bexar, Cameron, Dallas, Harris, Hidalgo and Tarrant.
The governor said the state health department has also asked three teams of medical personnel to provide additional support to hospitals in urban areas of the state that do not have DSHS-contracted personnel, as well as additional allocations of monoclonal antibody treatments to combat the omicron variant and other variants of the virus. .
“Detecting COVID-1[ads1]9 and preventing covid-related hospitalizations is crucial to our fight against this virus,” Abbott said in a prepared statement. “Test sites, additional medical personnel and continued shipments of therapy from the federal government will help us continue to save lives and reduce the spread of COVID-19.”
The governor said in a statement on Friday “The Biden administration has cut supplies of monoclonal antibody treatments and test kits when they are most needed. The state of Texas urges the federal government to step up in this fight and provide the resources needed to protect Texans.”
Since March 2021, the governor has stood by his position that mitigating efforts, such as mask or vaccine mandates, are not a matter for the state, and has instead asked Texans to take personal responsibility and use the tools they know work when fighting pandemics.
Meanwhile, as new cases of COVID-19 increase, infusion centers across the state are said to have exhausted the supply of sotrovimab, a monoclonal antibody-therapeutic agent currently available under an emergency use permit to treat those infected with the more transmissible omicron. variants.
The scarcity of the therapeutic drug stems from a national shortage, according to the state agency. The centers are expected to receive new shipments in early January, as previously announced by the federal government.
Earlier this week, DSHS said that other monoclonal antibodies have not been shown to be effective against the omicron variant, which now accounts for more than 90% of new cases; On Friday, DSHS said an additional allotment of sotrovimab had been requested to help treat the growing number of infected Texans.
The agency also requested that the federal government continue to supply Texas with Regeneron and bamlanivimab, monoclonal antibody treatments that have been shown to help reduce hospital admissions across the state for those suffering from other strains of COVID-19.
President Joe Biden said last week that the federal government would buy half a billion COVID-19 rapid test kits and distribute them free of charge to people who can be used at home. But despite the high public demand for tests, it will still take several weeks before these kits are available to be shipped. The administration is still working on details for how the program will work.
COVID cases are increasing across DFW, Texas
In the last week, the number of new cases of COVID-19 has skyrocketed across the state, while hospital admissions in DFW have doubled. The molecular positivity rate reported by the State Department on Thursday was at a record high since the pandemic began almost two years ago.
On Tuesday, Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas reported that the number of patients 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 physician at Parkland, said most of the covid-19 patients who end up in the hospital are unvaccinated.