AMARILLO, Texas -- Recent COVID-19 testing focused on meatpacking plants in the Amarillo, Texas, area led to more than 700 new cases of coronavirus being reported on Saturday.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on May 4 deployed a surge response team to the area. That team is comprised of members of the Texas National Guard and the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force.
The Texas Panhandle includes a workforce comprised of many Hispanics and immigrants employed in numerous meatpacking plants. The area has the highest rate of infection in the state.
"As Texas continues ramping up its testing capabilities, there will be an increase in positive cases as the state targets the most high-risk areas: nursing homes, meat packing plants and jails," said Gov. Abbott. "That is exactly why I established Surge Response Teams. By immediately deploying resources and supplies to these high risk areas, we will identify the positive cases, isolate the individuals and ensure any outbreak is quickly contained, which is the strategy being deployed in Amarillo."
According to the governor’s office, the Amarillo area has the following health care capabilities:
- 516 hospital beds available
- 236 surge beds available
- 110 ventilators available, with the ability to move more to the region.
Statewide, as of May 17, the Texas Department of State Health Services reports 46,999 confirmed cases of coronavirus, which includes an estimated 19,093 active cases. Currently, 1,791 people in Texas are hospitalized in connection to the virus. There are 1,305 confirmed fatalities and an estimated 26,601 patients have recovered.