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Gov. Abbott asks Texas hospitals to voluntarily postpone elective procedures; urges Texans to get vaccinated

The governor also said they'll bring in out-of-state medical personnel to help Texas hospitals as they struggle with alarming increases in COVID-19 patients.

AUSTIN, Texas — Governor Greg Abbott announced a series of actions Monday that the State of Texas is taking as COVID-19 cases continue to increase at an alarming rate.

He is asking hospitals statewide to voluntarily postpone elective medical procedures for non-life-threatening conditions to make room for COVID patients. 

The governor said State Health Department will bring in out-of-state medical personnel to help Texas hospitals struggling with alarming increases in COVID-19 patients.

LBJ Hospital in Houston said they're in "crisis mode" with their ICU is at 100% capacity. Sixty-three percent of those patients have COVID. The hospital is putting up tents to help with the overflow but said they don't have enough medical staff to operate them.

LBJ, Ben Taub, Houston Methodist and St. Luke's have already postponed elective surgeries. 

In another move to increase hospital capacity, Abbott said he's directing the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to open five more COVID-19 antibody infusion centers around the state. They will treat patients who don't need hospitalization with therapeutic drugs. 

One center will open in San Antonio Tuesday but the governor's office didn't say where the other four will be located.

An existing infusion center in Lubbock will be expanded. 

Patients must meet certain criteria and have a referral from a doctor.

Abbott also urged Texans to get vaccinated.

"The State of Texas is taking action to combat the recent rise in COVID-19 cases and ensure that our hospitals and communities have the resources and support they need to mitigate the virus," said Governor Abbott. "Texans can help bolster our efforts by getting vaccinated against COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, and it is our best defense against this virus. Texans can visit covidvaccine.texas.gov to find a COVID-19 vaccine provider near them."

Abbott isn't budging on his policy that bans mask mandates in Texas. The executive order includes all government entities and public schools, but HISD is voting on a mask mandate this week. And Dallas ISD has issued a temporary one.

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