FRISCO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – During a get-out-the-vote event in Frisco Thursday, Governor Greg Abbott addressed the coronavirus which has made its way to the United States, but so far, not Texas.
“Texans are going to be very pleased to learn the extent of which we’ve already been working to deal with the coronavirus,” Abbott said. “This is something we’ve been working on for well over a month. We’re getting collaboration with CDC, federal officials, local officials making sure Texas is very well prepared.”
Gov. Abbott said the state learned a lot from when Ebola made its way to North Texas in October 2014.
“Dealing with the Ebola experience in Dallas years ago really did a great job of preparing Texas to deal with this coronavirus challenge,” Abbott said. “It was one of the most profound efforts we had to undertake with regard to a public health situation about containing a very dangerous disease. Because of that, we’re far better prepared today. We’ve been through this exercise before. In Texas language, this isn’t our first rodeo. We’ve able to be far more prepared in advance this time than we were before this Ebola situation.”
During a news conference later in the day, Abbott said he talked to Vice President Mike Pence about how the federal government is going to work with state governments to aggressively deal with the threat.
Gov. Abbott said the Department of State Health Services is working closely with the Texas Division of Emergency Management to prepare along with local health departments and health care providers.
DSHS is preparing the state labs to administer testing for coronavirus.
Gov. Abbott said Texas will be ready to deal with anything from the status quo to a COVID-19 pandemic.
DSHS is also focusing on high-risk populations like young children and the elderly, Governor Abbott said.
“There is a tremendous amount of work all of these state agencies have put in for well over a month now to be extremely well organized,” he said.
The Governor’s Office went on to explain its approach in a news release Thursday evening:
The state is taking precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of all Texans. DSHS, the lead agency for response, activated the State Medical Operations Center (SMOC) in January. The SMOC serves as a touchpoint for any requests from local entities, and also ensures consistent collection, tracking, and reporting of public health activities and data. DSHS is currently preparing state laboratories with testing capabilities for the novel coronavirus, and is updating public health response plans in the event of the spread of the virus. Multi-level and multi-agency coordination and communication efforts are practiced daily to ensure up-to-date information is flowing between federal, state, and local partners.
DSHS is coordinating with TDEM, Texas Hospital Association, Texas Medical Association and state university systems with the purpose of providing educational materials and the latest developments in research and treatment methods for the virus. Additionally, DSHS and TDEM will begin bi-weekly meetings with all relevant state agencies at the SOC to discuss up-to-date emergency planning documents and how plans will be implemented. Agencies will also implement disinfecting measures at places like driver’s license offices and schools, as well as ensure high-risk populations, such as those in daycares, nursing homes, assisted living associations, and health care facilities, are prepared and properly cared for.