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    Texas Guard mobilizes to respond to COVID-19

    Texas Army National Guard Set up Field Hospital

    Photo By Senior Airman Charissa Menken | Texas Army National Guard troops set up a field hospital in response to COVID-19 April...... read more read more



    Story by Charles E. Spirtos 

    Texas Military Department

    AUSTIN, Texas—On March 17, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott activated the Texas National Guard in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The activation included three Joint Taskforce Brigades, the 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and 176th Engineer Brigade, which will lead 10 general support units positioned throughout the state.

    To explain the Guard’s role, Abbott held a joint press conference with Maj. Gen. Tracy R. Norris, the Adjutant General of Texas, at the Texas State Capitol detailing the whole of government approach Texas was taking to the COVID-19 response. Missions detailed by Abbott included supporting medical, logistics, transportation and communication programs that support Texas healthcare.

    The Guard’s primary role is expanding Texas’ 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.

    An early player in the Texas National Guard’s response were members of the 6th Civil Support Team headquartered at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. These Guardsmen were tasked with examining donated personal protective equipment like N95 respirator masks and latex gloves to make certain the equipment was undamaged and effective.

    According to Maj. Sean M. Thurmer, Deputy Commander of the 6th Civil Support Team, the trust the state has put in the team has been earned over the years of working alongside the Texas Department of Emergency Management.

    “The 6th Civil Support Team has responded to many incidents in Texas and has developed relationships with response partners with whom they work,” said Thurmer.

    Effective equipment will be distributed to medical facilities and hospitals treating patients with COVID-19. By maintaining the adequate supply of this equipment, the Texas Military Department is ensuring medical providers can continue serving the public while also protecting themselves.

    Abbott further explained he was focusing the Guard’s efforts on finding and equipping non-medical sites that could treat COVID-19 patients. In response, engineers from Texas’ 176th Engineer Brigade have begun identifying and equipping additional locations to serve as health care facilities in the event that hospital capacity is exhausted.

    “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 Military Department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will expand the care capacity in communities across Texas,” said Abbott.

    The first of these sites will be the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. It is a location that can initially accept up to 250 patients with room to expand if needed.

    According to Norris, 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 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.

    Norris also emphasized that responding Guardsmen were fellow Texans who wanted to serve their community as a member of the Texas National Guard.

    “We are Citizen Soldiers and Airmen, we truly are your neighbors and are deeply invested in keeping our friends and fellow Texans safe,” said Norris “This is our home too and together we will get through this difficult time.”

    Norris also explained the Texas National Guard is committed to serving alongside its state and local partners to ensure fellow Texans are supported and taken care of as COVID-19 continues to threaten communities throughout the state.



    Date Taken: 04.04.2020
    Date Posted: 04.04.2020 14:36
    Story ID: 366614
    Location: AUSTIN, TX, US 

    Web Views: 1,530
    Downloads: 4