AUSTIN, Texas – The death toll from the coronavirus has risen to 175, Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday.
During a news conference at the State Capitol, Abbott said 1,491 people have been hospitalized across the state, and more than 96,250 Texans have been tested for COVID-19, with 9,107 positive results.
Abbott said as of Tuesday, there were 21,066 hospital beds, 2,225 ICU beds and more than 7,000 ventilators available in Texas.
The governor also announced that Walgreens will start providing drive-thru testing for the coronavirus. He said testing could produce results in about 15 minutes. He said the sites could test 3,000 people daily but did not immediately give details of cost or when the testing would begin.
He said that there are two companies, including one in San Antonio, that are stepping up to produce personal protective equipment for health care workers.
Reyes Automotive, a Toyota supplier, last week started making 5,000 face shields a day. Also, a new partnership between the Texas Military Department and Prestige Ameritech near Fort Worth will produce 2 million masks a week. The 24-hour operation will be staffed in part by members of the Texas National Guard.
Abbott said the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is under siege trying to process unemployment benefits for millions of Texans who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
He said on March 26, TWC received 1.7 million calls and are averaging 120,000 calls daily. Abbott said TWC will likely process more claims in a five-week period than it did for all of 2019. Hundreds of additional staff have been brought to help process claims quicker. Abbott said anyone who was previously denied benefits should apply again because there are expanded programs that may help them now.
Abbott was joined by John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services; Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management; and John Zerwas, the executive vice chancellor of health affairs at the University of Texas System.
COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.
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