By Chris Edwards
AUSTIN – Gov. Greg Abbott, last week, renewed the statewide disaster declaration stating that COVID-19 is “an imminent threat of disaster.”
Abbott first issued the declaration on March 13, 2020, under Section 418.014 of the Texas Government Code. The proclamation is “aimed at protecting the health and safety of Texans and ensuring an effective response” to the stated disaster, for all 254 counties.
Abbott, in remarks made on his website pertaining to the pandemic, stated that Texans are “resilient,” and that in years past, “when tested by fire, flood, or hurricane, Texans respond with resilience and calm resolve. And just as we overcame those challenges, we will overcome this one.”
A disaster declaration, simply stated, is a formal statement by a jurisdiction that a disaster or an emergency situation exceeds response and/or recovery capabilities.
It allows public officials to exercise emergency powers to preserve life, property and public health.
At the statewide level, the case numbers have been increasing over the past several months, however, in the past week, the number of new cases
dropped to 72,653, with 154 deaths deported, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center at John Hopkins University.
The slight uptick in COVID cases has been consistent across the country, since May, which experts have attributed to two new subvariants of the virus, BA.2 and BA.2.12.1.
Those two variants, according to DSHS data, represented 61.8% and 32.4% of all cases in early May.
The variants are related to the earlier COVID strain omicron, but according to experts, are not as virulent and less deadly.
Carrie Kroll, of the Texas Hospital Association, stated in a news release that hospitals are now better prepared to deal with the current wave of COVID variants, and that treatments such as monoclonal antibodies as well as antiviral pills have assisted in healthcare providers being better prepared.
Kroll said, however, that hospitals across the state are still facing a shortage of nurses and respiratory therapists.