Texas Activates National Guard in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he is activating the Texas National Guard in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

While there is currently not a need to deploy them, the members of the guard will be standing ready, The Texas Tribune reported.

“By activating the Texas National Guard, we are ensuring Texas is prepared as we continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Abbot said in a statement.

“I am grateful to the men and women of the National Guard for their dedication to serving their fellow Texans, and want to assure the public that this is a precautionary measure to make sure the Texas National Guard has the capability to serve at a moment’s notice where they are needed most.”

First responders and health care workers will not be included in this activation.

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The Texas National Guard was last activated in 2017 during Hurricane Harvey.

There were 64 cases of coronavirus across 19 counties as of Wednesday, and a man in his 90s became the state’s first coronavirus-related death, according to KVUE.

As of Tuesday, 1,264 Texans had been tested for COVID-19 and, after receiving new testing kits this week, the governor expects the state to test 10,000 people every week.

“This week, Texas will be receiving 15,000 test kits from FEMA alone. Testing will be conducted in part by FEMA, in part by hospitals, in part by public health authorities, in part by these private” operators, Abbott said.

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Four days before the national guard activation, Gov. Abbott declared a state of disaster across Texas.

“We want to make sure that we do all we can to prevent this vulnerable senior population or others in hospital from being contracted with COVID-19,” Abbott said.

The vice chancellor for Disaster and Emergency Services, Nim Kidd, added that it was important for everyone to stay calm.

“While it may be a new virus, novel if you will, it’s the same people, policies and procedures that we have used for decades to serve and protect Texas,” Kidd said.

In response to the outbreak, Texas has transitioned public schools and universities to online learning.

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Bars and restaurants in Dallas and Houston have also closed doors to help maintain social distancing, according to The Tribune.

“I understand the pain this decision will create,” Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said.

“Dallas has a robust and diverse economy that has grown in recent years. We have world-class event venues, theaters, and entertainment options. I love to tell people from out of town that Dallas is the reigning Bon Appetit Restaurant City of the Year.”

“We are proud of our service industry and our vibrant, diverse economy. But this is the time when we have to focus on the greatest asset we have: our people and our communities,” he added.

UPDATE, March 18, 2020: When originally published, this article’s headline referenced the last time the Texas National Guard had been deployed as reported by The Texas Tribune. The Tribune has since corrected its reference to when the National Guard was last deployed, and we have updated our headline to remove the incorrect information.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith