Governor Greg Abbott May 11 directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to test 100% of residents and staff in Texas nursing homes for the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The governor instructed HHSC, TDEM and DSHS to develop and implement a plan based on the guidance of Vice President Mike Pence and Doctor Deborah Birx.
“The State of Texas is working to rapidly expand our testing capacity – especially among vulnerable populations in Texas nursing homes,” said Governor Abbott. “This important collaboration among HHSC, TDEM and DSHS will ensure that any potential clusters of COVID-19 cases in nursing homes are quickly detected and contained.”
Abbott’s recent directive is meant to stem the spread in Texas facilities. The Texas Tribune reported April 30 that more than 300 people have died from COVID-19 in long-term care centers, like nursing homes, in Texas and estimated that 10,300 elderly people in long-term care facilities across 23 states have died from the virus. Texas has not made public the locations of facilities where patients or caretakers have gotten ill from the virus or died. According to the Tribune, the state has cited its strict medical privacy laws as the reason the governor and state health authorities will not release information on these hotspots.