Texas Lobbyist News

Governor Abbott Responds Further to Surge of COVID-19 Cases

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to increase in the state of Texas, Governor Abbott is aiming to anticipate the economic impact and respond proactively. Many students that are enrolled in the Texas higher education system receive need-based financial aid, the resources for which could potentially be dramatically reduced in the wake of this unprecedented pandemic. In order to keep Texas’ university students enrolled and on track, the State of Texas is investing $57 million in federal funds from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund for financial aid. This fund was made available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, And Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“As Texas responds to the economic and educational impacts of COVID-19, we want to make sure that students who depend on financial aid continue to receive the support they need to earn their college degree,” Governor Abbott said on July 8th. “This funding will help keep our students on the path to finishing their education and entering the workforce with knowledge and experience that will help them launch productive careers and attract more employers to our state. These grant programs provide targeted investments in Texas students and in the future of our state.” This investment in the students and future leaders of Texas was spearheaded by Governor Abbot, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen, Senators Jane Nelson and Chuy Hinojosa, and Representatives Giovanni Capriglione and Oscar Longoria.

Additionally, Governor Abbott announced plans for a new COVID-19 surge testing site in the Rio Grande Valley. The sharp increase of cases in the area has caused the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to open a testing site in Edinburg, Texas, from Wednesday, July 8th through Tuesday, July 14th. Hidalgo County and other areas of the Rio Grande Valley have been heavily impacted by the quickly spreading coronavirus outbreak, and this new testing site aims to protect the region’s residents by offering up to 5,000 tests a day.

On July 4th, Governor Abbott announced that the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) plans to make its largest distribution of the antiviral drug Remdesivir to Texas hospitals. The drug has shown potential in early clinical trials, reducing average recovery time from 15 days with a placebo to only 11 days for coronavirus patients who were administered Remdesivir. Shortening hospital visits of COVID-19 patients through the use of Remdesivir may help to manage the surge in cases and hospitalizations.

Cancellation of the Texas GOP Convention

Due to public health concerns, the Texas GOP Convention is no longer being held at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center. Prior to its cancellation on July 8th, the convention was set to occur from July 16th to July 18th, with elected officials presenting their in-person speeches via video. Other precautions were in the works for the in-person convention, such as thermal scans and mask requirements. However, the concerns for the health of attendees and those employed at the convention center were overwhelming, leading Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner to completely call off the event. The cancellation has led to backlash from the Harris County GOP chair and others. On the contrary, U.S. Rep Dan Crenshaw, R-Houston, called the cancellation, “a prudent move for public health.” With Harris County being a consistent hot spot for the novel coronavirus, it is likely that the cancellation of the convention, while a disruption to sponsors, attendees, others, could possibly prevent more cases and deaths.

TLG News

Congratulations are in order for Texas Lobby Group lobbyist, Carrie Simmons. She and Jimmy Skipton announced their engagement this week.