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Department of Defense, U.S. Navy deployed to Rio Grande Valley

Infectious Disease Physician Army Maj. Gadiel Alvarado, left, with the Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force, walks down the hall with United Memorial Medical Center’s Mariya Mohiuddin, director of COVID-19 testing and logistics, inside a newly setup wing in the hospital in Houston.

(The Center Square) – Gov. Greg Abbott held a virtual meeting with Rio Grande Valley leaders two days after the U.S. Department of Defense sent five U.S. Navy teams to four locations in South and Southwest Texas to help combat the spread of COVID-19.

As of July 19, one U.S. Navy Acute Care Team began providing support at the Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen and four U.S. Navy Rural Rapid Response Teams began supporting hospitals in Del Rio, Eagle Pas and Rio Grande City. As Texas counties have increasingly found themselves unequipped to deal with the coronavirus, the federal government has increased its financial and medical support.

The governor on Tuesday held virtual meetings with mayors, county judges, emergency managers, hospital executives, state legislators, and other local officials from Cameron and Hidalgo Counties to discuss the efforts to combat COVID-19 in these communities.

Abbott and local leaders discussed the ongoing needs of the Valley and the ways the state of Texas can continue to assist these communities, including expanding hospital capacity and staffing needs. The governor also agreed to support Hidalgo County’s efforts to contract with a hotel to provide more beds for recovering COVID-19 patients.

Abbott Chief of Staff Luis Saenz and Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief (TDEM) Nim Kidd attended the meetings in person.

After the virtual meeting, Saenz continued to meet with local elected officials and Kidd met with local emergency management and hospital personnel.

The U.S. Department of Defense also deployed a U.S. Army Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force to provide medical and support professionals in Rio Grande Valley Hospitals. Previously, the governor increased hospital capacity in Cameron and Hidalgo Counties by suspending elective surgeries.

Numerous cases of Remdesivir also were sent to the Rio Grande Valley, and TDEM distributed PPE to Cameron and Hidalgo counties. These distributions include more than 3 million surgical masks, 1.4 million pairs of medical gloves, 280,000 face shields, 2.1 million N-95 masks and more.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has fulfilled several assistance requests for ventilators, hospital staffing, nursing home staffing, testing teams, epidemiology staff, lab staff, test collection kits and supplies, ambulance strike teams, oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders, morgue trailers, assorted medical supplies and various types of personal protective equipment (PPE), the governor’s office says.

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