Saying Amarillo "has turned the corner" since a surge strike force was sent in to help deal with a sudden spike in the number of coronavirus cases in the Texas Panhandle city, Gov. Greg Abbott touted it as an example of what can be accomplished when state and federal resources are brought to bear on the pandemic.
Nursing homes, meat packing plants and jails or prisons are the three main areas where the state has seen spikes, the governor said. In Moore County, located north of Amarillo, workers at a JBS slaughterhouse tested positive in large numbers for the coronavirus.
"Amarillo has gone through the challenge of facing all three of those hot spots overlapping," Abbott said. Amarillo is home to a Tyson Foods beef plant where all of its more than 3,500 employees were tested after a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the area.
Referring to data for Potter and Randall counties, Abbott said there was a huge increase in positive cases from in May 13-25 until thanks in large part to the targeted efforts of the state's "surge response teams," there were zero positive cases for COVID-19 on May 25 and zero on May 26.
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As a result, it and the surrounding area are "part of the process of allowing Texas to open up our economy," Abbott said.
"We are now at the level that we are opening up the state of Texas economically. And it is important that we be able to open up while maintaining the safety and lives of our fellow Texans," he said. The strategy involves using "surge response teams" which identify hot spots in Texas where there is an increase in people testing positive.
"While so many people in this state are suffering from the coronavirus, there are so many more people in the state who are suffering economically. Their businesses are being shuttered. Their paychecks are being lost. Their ability to feed their families is being compromised. They need help. They need to get back to work. One thing about Texans is they’re not looking for a handout; they’re looking to get back to work.
"Part of our strategy is to enable people to get back to work while co-existing with COVID-19."