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Texas governor activates National Guard in response to COVID-19

The announcement comes four days after Gov. Abbott issued a statewide disaster declaration due to the coronavirus.

AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday activated the Texas National Guard to be prepared to assist with response efforts for COVID-19. 

According to the governor's office, this preparative measure will ensure that the state's National Guard can aid in various ways across Texas as necessary. Healthcare employees and first responders who are members of the Texas National Guard are not included in this activation so that they can continue serving in their respective fields.

"By activating the Texas National Guard, we are ensuring Texas is prepared as we continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19," said Gov. Abbott. "I am grateful to the men and women of the National Guard for their dedication to serving their fellow Texans, and want to assure the public that this is a precautionary measure to make sure the Texas National Guard has the capability to serve at a moment's notice where they are needed most."

At the time of the announcement, Gov. Abbott said no members of the Guard currently need to be deployed.

The governor said Texas is up to 64 confirmed cases of coronavirus across 19 counties. He also mentioned the state's first coronavirus-related death, involving a man in his 90s in Matagorda County.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 1,264 Texans have been tested. 

"That number will continue to increase dramatically," he added.

Gov. Abbott said he's confident Texas will be able to test 10,000 people per week by the end of this week.

The announcement comes four days after Gov. Abbott declared a state of disaster across Texas in regard to the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, the Texas National Guard said units are assembling in preparation for operations around Texas. These members are trained to provide a number of capabilities such as medical support, communication support, infrastructure maintenance, logistics and transportation. 

“The men and women of the Texas National Guard stand ready and prepared to assist our fellow Texans as requested by the Governor and state and federal emergency response forces,” said Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris, Adjutant General of Texas. “We have a uniquely varied skillset which allows us to respond to this type of event, while maintaining our global operations in the warfight.”

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