A Message From Senator Kolkhorst Regarding the Coronavirus
Senator Kolkhorst posted the following message on her Facebook page earlier this evening:
The global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has not spared Texas, with cases increasing and public life being temporarily upended across our state. To be clear, we are well equipped to contain and control this situation.
As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services and your state senator, I would like to report on how our state, federal and local governments are working together to protect our health and safety. I will also share suggested precautions to protect you and your family, and share several links for you to research and better understand the illness and past pandemics.
We will get through this challenge. Our state is working 24-7 to coordinate a response to this disaster, and we are using every tool at our disposal. Earlier today, I joined a conference call with Governor Abbott shortly before he declared the new coronavirus a statewide public health disaster. At the same time, President Trump also announced today that he is declaring a national emergency, to deliver an estimated $50 billion directly to the states impacted. Texas is massively increasing our testing capacity, setting up drive-through testing capabilities in San Antonio, and other larger population centers, as well as streamlining how agencies and health providers work together to deliver care.
My top priority is to collaborate with my colleagues at all levels of government to do whatever it takes to get rid of this threat as soon as possible. Governor Abbott continues to hold calls with state lawmakers, as well as mayors and county judges so that we can rapidly respond to local needs. Yesterday we heard updates from Dr. John Hellerstedt, Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, Nim Kidd, Director of the Texas Department of Emergency Management and Mike Morath, Commissioner of the Texas Education Agency.
Here are some of my notes from these conversations:
–State agencies are collaborating with each other and working well with local officials.
–As the virus continues to spread, much will be done to focus on the elderly who are most at risk.
–Testing capabilities are vastly expanding and will be done as needed per a doctor’s recommendation.
–Local governments will make decisions regarding cancelling events and other public health matters.
–Local public health officials are vital to sources of information about your specific region.
–Costs incurred by cities and counties should be accurately tracked for future reimbursements.
–School superintendents will be holding daily calls with the Texas Commissioner of Education.
Because the elderly are the most at risk, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have issued very specific new coronavirus guidelines for nursing homes and other settings that care for the elderly.
What else can you personally do to help? Pay attention to these published guidelines from the Department of State Health Services (DSHS), which are everyday actions to stop the spread of any respiratory virus, including COVID-19:
• Wash hands often for 20 seconds and encourage others to do the same.
• If no soap and water are available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue away.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Disinfect surfaces, buttons, handles, knobs, and other places touched often.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
It is also suggested that we practice “social distancing,” which means staying away from other people, avoiding crowds and minimizing physical contact so that you do not spread illness. This means currently avoiding mass gatherings, skipping the usual handshake, and remaining six feet away from others.
Earlier this week, a doctor shared his advice in simple terms: “Do everything your grandmother used to teach you… that means wash your hands; take baths and showers when you come home; don’t touch your face; sneeze and cough into your sleeve instead of your hand; wipe down your countertops and door knobs; and practice social distancing.”
Currently I avoid shaking hands (which is especially difficult for someone in elected office), but instead I’m doing elbow or fist bumps with everyone! My daughter Lois Kate arrived home from a spring break trip to Florida, including an airline flight. This means she is not going to hug her grandmother, Nana, nor is she going to stand within six feel of her. This disciplined hygiene is tough, but necessary and will help to lessen the peak of those infected. It is VERY important!
The value of common sense cannot be underestimated. For instance, today President Trump and Governor Abbott both said that there is no plan for the limitation of movement of the general public (quarantine), contrary to some online rumors which have created unwarranted panic buying of food and goods.
This is a serious health challenge but I am confident that we are ahead of the curve. Undoubtedly, as more testing is done, we will see more Texans infected with COVID-19. Yet on a brighter note, the vast majority of those infected will have few symptoms, especially younger people.
You may recall 10 years ago that the last pandemic was called N1H1 or the “Swine Flu.” It was a personal event in my home, as I tested positive for N1H1 in the summer of 2009. In the end, most of those infected along with myself all recovered fully. Because of extreme caution and good hygiene, no one else in my family came down with N1H1 that year. It is a good reminder of how these instances tend to play out.
Last but certainly not least, I would like to mention the power of prayer! I am praying for a cure, for the stop of the spread of this virus and that our nation will unite to defeat this challenge. Strength can be found in our Lord most certainly during challenging times such as these.
Like any other natural disasters, we will ultimately triumph and find a way forward in this state. Texans always do.
The original message can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/LoisKolkhorst/posts/2620252711583220?__tn__=K-R