House Committee on Public Health Discusses COVID-19

March 31, 2020

Legislative News

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On March 10, the House Committee on Public Health held a hearing with state and local leaders to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and what it means for Texans.

Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd and Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt outlined the state's current preparedness efforts for the coronavirus. They cautioned that if the state does not work to limit the spread of the virus, vital resources such as hospitals and first responders will be overwhelmed. They also emphasized the strong partnerships their agencies have with city and county officials.

Harris County Public Health Director Dr. Umair Shah provided a county's perspective on preparedness for COVID-19. He testified that "local government is crucial in the fight against the coronavirus." He said that county public health officials are like the offensive line of a football team because they are on the frontlines protecting Texas residents through essential hospital systems. Shah explained that local hospitals and first responders lack necessary resources for COVID-19 response. He called for immediate emergency funding from the federal government and for the Committee to ensure that the funding be directly allocated to local governments.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff also submitted written testimony for the hearing. Nelson's testimony outlined Bexar County’s initial response plans for COVID-19 and included information regarding the Texas Center for Infectious Diseases.

All submitted testimony is available on the Committee's website. As a precaution to COVID-19, the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate have postponed committee hearings until further notice. For more information, please contact Kelsey Bernstein.