Texas lawmakers ask HHS to set up field hospital, federal resources in the state


The three Democrats who represent Texas’s Rio Grande Valley joined the state’s two Republican senators in asking Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to send federal resources to the region.  

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn and Democratic Reps. Vicente Gonzalez, Filemon Vela and Henry Cuellar — the three lawmakers who represent the Rio Grande Valley border region — asked HHS to set up a field hospital in the region and provide additional financial resources as the area experiences a surge in coronavirus cases.

Hidalgo County, which has a population of 868,707, has confirmed 7,334 cases since the start of the pandemic. On Friday alone, the county reported 1,274 new cases. 

Earlier this week, HHS set up a free COVID-19 testing site in Edinburg, Texas, as part of the federal government's increased testing efforts in hot spots throughout the country, which the lawmakers said was “greatly appreciated.” 

“Providers in our region have urgently requested additional staffing and a myriad of medical supplies including oxygen, ventilators, personal protective equipment, and dialysis machines as well as additional facilities to enhance critical care and discharge capacity,” the lawmakers wrote. “The rapid deployment of federal resources would go a long way to alleviate and augment the local response as we continue to experience increases in COVID-19 cases.”

Last week officials reported that 10 out of the 12 hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley were at full capacity. Since late last month the state has begun deploying nurses from less-affected parts of the state to the region.

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