Austin, Texas — The role of the Texas National Guard is expanding the state’s overall healthcare capacity. This includes increasing access to supplies and equipment, as well as staffing capacity and the number of available hospital beds in Texas.
On March 17, Governor Greg Abbott activated the Texas National Guard in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The activation included three Joint Task Force brigades, which will lead 10 general support units positioned throughout the state.
A joint press conference with Abbott and Major General Tracy Norris detailed the role of the guard. The mission includes – supporting medical, logistics, transportation, and communication programs that support Texas healthcare. Effective equipment will be distributed to medical facilities and hospitals treating patients with COVID-19. By maintaining the adequate supply, the state National Guard can ensure medical providers can continue serving the public while also protecting themselves. The governor further explained, he is focusing the TNG’s efforts on finding and equipping non-medical sites that could treat COVID-19 patients.
According to Abbott, “While hospitals will remain the primary location to treat and care for those in need, we are ensuring that Texas is prepared for any possible scenario in which current hospital capacity is exhausted. This joint initiative with the Texas National Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will expand the care capacity in communities across the state.”
Major General Norris added, “The Guardsmen are working alongside local agencies to establish drive through test sites throughout the State. These locations allow local medical staff to ensure a well-coordinated process, which provides residents with access to COVID-19 screenings in a safe, efficient way that also limits contact with potentially infected members of the public.”
Norris also explained this mission played to the strengths of the Guard as the organization has trained medical staff and logistics experts that can keep the sites equipped and staffed with local members of the Texas Guard. “We are Citizen Soldiers and Airmen, we truly are your neighbors and are deeply invested in keeping our friends and fellow Texans safe. This is our home too and together we will get through this difficult time.”