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State of Texas provides updates on COVID-19 situation, assistance

State of Texas provides updates on COVID-19 situation, assistance
May 09
18:56 2021

The State of Texas has made several announcements recently regarding the COVID-19 situation in the state, including details about vaccine distribution and assistance for residents who have endured setbacks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mobile vaccine services available

Gov. Greg Abbott, the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), and the Texas Military Department announced on Thursday that they are launching a State Mobile Vaccination Team Call Center. Texas businesses and civic organizations can now call 844-90-TEXAS and select Option 3 to schedule a visit from a state mobile vaccine team to vaccinate employees, visitors or members. To qualify for a visit, a business or civic organization must have 10 or more employees, visitors or members who voluntarily choose to be vaccinated. Homebound Texans are also encouraged to call the hotline and select Option 1 to request a state mobile vaccination team to visit their home.

“Vaccines are the most effective tool in Texas’ fight against COVID-19, and we are committed to making COVID-19 vaccines even more widely available to Texans across the state,” Abbott said. “The State Vaccine Call Center will help connect businesses and civic organizations with these life-saving shots and ensure that more Texans have an opportunity to get vaccinated. I urge organizations and businesses to call 844-90-TEXAS and schedule a visit from a state mobile vaccine team. Here in Texas, COVID-19 vaccines will always be strongly encouraged and always voluntary.”

Abbott and TDEM originally launched the State Mobile Vaccine Pilot Program in January 2021 to ramp up COVID-19 vaccination efforts in underserved areas of Texas. Since the program’s initial launch, the responsibilities of State Mobile Vaccine Teams have been expanded to meet various COVID-19 vaccination needs of communities across the state. The teams are made up of members of the Texas National Guard and coordinated by TDEM.

Emergency benefits extended

Also last week, Abbott announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is providing approximately $246 million in emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits for the month of May as the state continues its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Thank you to the USDA for extending these crucial emergency SNAP benefits for the month of May,” Abbott said. “Through the continued extension of the benefits, Texas families have been able to provide for their families and put food on the table throughout the pandemic.”

HHSC received federal approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to extend the maximum, allowable amount of SNAP benefits to recipients based on family size, and all SNAP households will receive a minimum of $95 in emergency allotments.

“We will continue to provide additional support to Texans and their families during this pandemic so they can purchase nutritious foods with their SNAP benefits,” said Texas HHS Access and Eligibility Services Deputy Executive Commissioner Wayne Salter.

The emergency May allotments are in addition to the more than $3.1 billion in benefits previously provided to Texans since April 2020.

Recipients will also continue to receive a 15 percent increase in their total benefits, which will continue monthly until September 2021. The 15 percent increase and the additional emergency allotment amount should appear in recipients’ accounts by May 31.

Administered by HHSC, SNAP is a federal program that provides food assistance to approximately 1.6 million eligible low-income families and individuals in Texas. Texans in need can apply for benefits, including SNAP and Medicaid, at or use the Your Texas Benefits mobile app to manage their benefits.

Health Department changing distribution plan

The Texas Department of State Health Services will no longer allocate COVID-19 vaccine to providers on a weekly basis. Now that the supply of COVID-19 vaccine is regularly exceeding demand, DSHS will fill vaccine orders from providers as they come in and ship vaccine from the DSHS Pharmacy or place orders with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a daily basis.

“This is a big step in vaccine distribution,” said Imelda Garcia, DSHS associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious disease services. “The ability to ship vaccine to pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and other providers as they need it will go a long way to making sure it is available when and where Texans want to be vaccinated.”

Vaccines are available more widely than ever at hundreds of locations across Texas, many with no waiting and no appointment needed. Convenience will be key to getting the next group of Texans vaccinated, and DSHS is working with existing providers, employers and community organizations to make vaccination as easy as possible. More information on the vaccine, including tools to locate providers, is available at

With an ample supply of vaccine, providers no longer need to use every dose in the week they receive it but should store it under the conditions that will maximize its shelf life. DSHS said in a recent news release. DSHS is also encouraging providers to vaccinate anyone who wants to be vaccinated, even if that means opening a new vial for that person without knowing whether all doses will be used.

More than 11.3 million people have received at least one dose, and over 8.3 million are now fully vaccinated. More than half of all eligible Texans have gotten a dose of vaccine, and about 37 percent are fully vaccinated.

As a result of the change to regular vaccine ordering, DSHS will no longer post weekly allocation tables. The state will also retire the weekly report on vaccine doses reported by providers as wasted.

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