DALLAS (AP) — Gov. Greg Abbott announced new measures Sunday to free up hospital resources to address the COVID-19 pandemic, as Texas saw its’ sixth death tied to disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Abbott said at a news conference that he issued executive orders to allow hospitals to treat two patient in a room, rather than one, and directing heath care workers to postpone all “elective or non-essential” medical procedures.
The announcement came as the Texas Department of State Health Services said 334 people statewide have tested positive for the virus, up from 304 on Saturday, and officials in Dallas confirmed a man in his 80s who had the disease had died.
The vast majority of people who contract the virus recover within weeks. It causes only mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but it can lead to more severe illness, including pneumonia, especially in older adults and people with preexisting health problems.
Abbott said that the increase in Texans with the disease comes as testing is ramping up, and that both the number of people sick and the number tested with continue to rise. He urged the federal government to do more to help states acquire supplies needed for testing and protective equipment, such as face masks, for health care workers.
Abbott said he is not prepared to issue a shelter-in-place order, as governors in some large states have. He noted that more than 200 Texas counties currently have no cases of COVID-19 and said leaders in harder-hit parts of the state could take this action at the local level.