By Staff

(CBSDFW.COM) – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is giving $29,713,240 to 115 rural hospitals in Texas for COVID-19 testing and mitigation, which is an important part of the COVID response as the country faces new variants.

A respiratory therapist looks through patient information in the ICU at a hospital in Texas. (credit: Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images)

READ MORE: Wife Of Suspected Killer Of Mesquite Officer Charged With Aggravated Assault With A Deadly Weapon In Disturbance Preceding Fatal Shooting

“The Biden Administration recognizes the important role that small rural hospitals have in closing the equity gap and ensuring that rural Americans can protect themselves and their communities from COVID-19,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Today’s funding will help small rural hospitals continue to serve their communities in this critical role by expanding their COVID-19 testing capacity and mitigation efforts.”

The funding through the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP)comes as part of the Biden Administration’s ongoing efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: COVID-19 Omicron Variant Arrives In Texas

“Our state-based SHIP grantees are important partners in helping to support small rural hospitals,” said HRSA Acting Administrator Diana Espinosa. “HRSA is committed to mitigating the spread of the virus in rural areas by supporting and empowering local providers to tailor their responses to COVID-19 to what works for their communities.”

State Offices of Rural Health, which work with small rural hospitals to implement quality and operational improvement efforts, will receive the funding to distribute to eligible hospitals in their state.

Small rural hospitals—those with fewer than 50 beds and Critical Access Hospitals—are key health care access points and trusted community resources, according to a news release from the administration. Hospitals will use the funds to maintain or increase COVID-19 testing, expand access to testing for rural residents, and tailor mitigation efforts to reflect the needs of local communities.

MORE NEWS: 'My Home Is Still Uninhabitable': 10 Months After Winter Storm Some Texans Still Waiting On Insurance Claims Staff