Valley congressmen urge Abbott to call in the National Guard amid pandemic surge

U.S. Reps. Vicente Gonzalez and Filemon Vela sent a letter Monday urging Gov. Greg Abbott to immediately assign National Guard forces to the Rio Grande Valley to address the dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases in the region.

Citing an impending healthcare crisis, the letter requests the governor immediately begin preparing to deploy National Guard forces in support of healthcare providers in the Valley.

“In counties on the U.S.-Mexico border, demand for intensive care unit (ICU) beds has surpassed capacity,” the letter reads. “Lacking space for COVID-19 patients in ICUs, emergency rooms across the Lower Rio Grande Valley are forced to continue to care for those who need intensive treatment even as new patients arrive at higher and higher rates.”

The letter says that resources in South Texas will soon be unable to care for the COVID-19 caseload and urges the deployment of military personnel and establishment of field hospitals.

“We urge you to work with the White House to withdraw the current Presidential authorization designating up to 5,500 troops for border protection and shift those resources immediately to provide medical support and expand hospital capacity to help the State of Texas contain the virus and protect the nation,” the letter reads. “The deployment of military members with training, equipment and technology along with deployable field hospitals, is urgently needed to address shortfalls, including testing, ICU beds, and emergency department capacity.”

The congressmen ended by asking the governor to send the resources to South Texas immediately.