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Hundreds more nurses coming to Houston to relieve hospitals strained by COVID surge

"They are all seeing staff shortages, some of up to 10% due to the virus, up to 20% due to burnout, ultimately because of the virus," Judge Lina Hidalgo said.

HOUSTON — Relief is on the way for Houston-area hospitals slammed by the COVID-19 omicron variant.

Harris County Commissioners voted Tuesday to spend $40 million with Angel Staffing in San Antonio to bring 664 nurses to the region.

County Judge Lina Hidalgo told reporters the nurses are on standby and should arrive in a week.

“They will be deployed to all of our hospitals across our region -- from our public hospital system to hospitals from Methodist, Memorial Hermann, HCA, you name it,” Judge Hidalgo said. “They are all seeing staff shortages, some of up to 10 percent due to the virus, up to 20 percent due to burnout, ultimately because of the virus.”

Dr. Ericka Brown, Deputy Local Health Authority with Harris County Public Health, said Monday another 900 health care workers had already arrived from around the state.

On Tuesday, county commissioners also approved buying 65,000 rapid test kits -- which each contain two tests -- for schools.

“The question is: Will we be able to find it?” said Judge Hidalgo. “It is a race against all other jurisdictions in this country.”

The county has already bought 90,000 test kits.

Federal COVID relief dollars are paying for both the additional nurses and rapid tests for schools.

Hospitals around the state are struggling to keep up with the surge in COVID cases. 

On Jan. 10, there were at least 11,040 hospitalized patients in Texas with confirmed coronavirus infections, the highest number in three months, the Texas Tribune reported.

This data does not account for people who are hospitalized but have not gotten a positive test.

Patients with COVID-19 currently occupy 18.2% of total hospital beds. 

WATCH: More COVID-19 coverage

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