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April 13, 2023
Texas has requested five mortuary trailers in anticipation of an increase in the number of dead bodies due to a spike in COVID-19 cases caused by the more infectious Delta variant.
The Texas Department of State Health Services spokesperson, Doug Loveday, told reporters that “we are anticipating a need within the state of Texas for these trailers as COVID cases and hospitalisations continue to increase.” The trailers will come from FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and will be based in San Antonio where they can then move to wherever local leaders request them, three are expected to arrive on Friday with the other two expected to arrive on Saturday.
According to Chris Van Deusen, a spokesperson for the same department, there are currently no “local requests, but we want to be ready with the COVID cases in the state, we didn’t want to wait.” One local leader, Ron Nirenberg the Mayor of San Antonio said the decision “made sense” adding that “deaths are starting to mount for sure.” The seven-day rolling average for deaths in the state of Texas sits at about 80 per day, and according to the Centres for Disease Control the last time the rolling average was that high it was March 16th, 2021.
Texas also has one of the highest transmission rates in the country, with new daily infections almost reaching 22,000 over the weekend according to the health department. In terms of the vaccine rollout and uptake Texas ranks 35th with about 55% of residents having received their first jab, and 45% having received both their jabs. On top of this, border crossings spiked by 13% last month to reach 212,672 encounters.
The border crisis is having a clear effect on the state’s management of the virus. This month the city of McAllen had to extend an emergency shelter to keep up with the growing number of COVID positive illegal immigrants, with city officials stating that more than 7,500 COVID positive immigrants were released into the city since February, with 1,500 being released in August alone.
Currently Texas is preparing for what many believe will be the first wave of Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban. The state expects to take around 300 Afghan refugees this week, with more expected in the coming weeks. However, the intake is expected to rise as the U.S scales up its evacuation efforts from “several thousand” to potentially “tens of thousands” according to Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby.
Kirby also said that the U.S would be bringing home a mix of both American citizens and “some Afghan SIV applicants.”, going further to say that “We’re going to focus on getting people out of the country, then sorting it out at the next stop. It’s not going to be just Americans first, then SIV applicants. We’re going to focus on getting as many folks out as we can.”
On Friday, Governor Abbott announced the opening of a further nine new centres state-wide which will offer monoclonal antibody infusions to infected COVID patients. These drugs manufactured by Regeneron have shown a reduced hospitalization rate among less severe cases, if given within ten days of the first symptoms showing.
ARTICLE: NATHAN REID
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: AXIOS