Gov. Abbott tours mass COVID-19 vaccination site in Arlington, provides update on Texas distribution


Gov. Greg Abbott gives a COVID-19 update from Lubbock. (Nexstar photo/Maggie Glynn)

ARLINGTON, Texas (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott will see how the Arlington Expo Center will operate as a mass vaccination site in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.

He’ll tour the facility Monday afternoon with other leaders and provide an update on the state’s vaccine efforts. The Texas Department of State Health Services announced the state would direct most of the COVID-19 vaccine it received from the federal government this week to large providers, which the agency called “hubs.”

The agency stated these hubs must be able to vaccinate more than 100,000 people and provide the vaccine to people who are at greater risks of hospitalization and death, as well as front-line health care workers. That includes those in groups 1A and 1B.

Texas DSHS identified 28 large vaccination hub providers across the state where people sign up online to receive a shot or possibly be placed on a waiting list to get one when vaccines become more available. The two sites in the Austin area include the Bell County Public Health District and Austin Public Health.

The vaccination process statewide has gone slowly so far. According to the latest data released Sunday by DSHS, only 2.78% of the state’s population of 29 million people is partially vaccinated, while just 0.23% are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

During the tour Monday in Arlington, Gov. Abbott will be joined by Dr. John Hellerstedt, the DSHS commissioner, as well as Chief Nim Kidd with the Texas Division of Emergency Management. Other leaders will include Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams, Tarrant County Judge B. Glen Whitley and Texas Health Resources CEO Barclay E. Berdan.

Following the holidays, the state is experiencing another surge in new COVID-19 cases and a serious strain on hospitals, medical workers and first responders. On Sunday Trauma Service Area O, which includes 2.3 million people in the Austin area, reached the COVID-19 hospitalization rate that automatically triggered additional restrictions for the area under state guidelines.

Under these new restrictions, which went into effect Sunday, businesses and retail establishments in the Austin area must reduce their operations to 50% occupancy. Per state rules, hospitals must also stop elective surgeries must across the area.

Austin is now joining the major municipalities across Texas on the state’s list of areas with high hospitalization numbers. As COVID-19 hospitalizations surge statewide, Trauma Service Areas in Amarillo, Abilene, Lubbock, Dallas/Fort Worth, Paris, Longview, Lufkin, El Paso, Belton, Killeen, El Paso, Waco, Bryan/ College Station, San Antonio, Houston, Galveston, Victoria, Laredo, and the Rio Grande Valley are also on the state’s list for these added restrictions.

KXAN will stream the governor’s comments in Arlington at 12 p.m. in this story and on the KXAN News Facebook page.

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