COVID-19 death toll in Texas at 11 as testing ramps up

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- A total of 715 Texans have tested positive for coronavirus and 11 people have died, according to Gov. Greg Abbott.

In a news conference on Tuesday, March 24, Abbott said more than 11,000 COVID-19 tests have been conducted across the state.

"You can expect the number of tests to continue to go up every single day," said Abbott.

He added 65 counties have been impacted by the outbreak so far. The governor also issued two executive orders.

One is to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not medically necessary, an order initially issued by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Abbott said the order is meant to increase the number of hospital bed across the state.

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"These two strategies alone will dramatically increase the number of beds that will be available to take care of people who become infected with COVID-19," said Abbott.

The second order requires hospitals to submit daily reports on hospital bed capacity to the state health department. It also requires all healthcare providers to submit daily reports of COVID-19 tests.

Abbott also emphasized its efforts to obtain more PPE, or personal protective equipment.

He said a supply-chain strike force has been formed to combat the shortage, and on Monday, an order was placed for more than $80 million worth of supplies.

"The Texas Division of Emergency Management will be receiving approximately 100,000 masks per day," said Abbott. "Next week, in addition to that, the strike force, separate from the Texas Division of Emergency Management, should get an additional 100,000 masks per day. "All together, next week, Texas should be getting more than a million masks per week."

The cases in the Houston-area alone surpassed 200 on Tuesday, but Abbott ended his update with words of encouragement.

"We're Texans," he said. "Texans are always resilient and we will, once again, as we always do, show the world how Texas respond when we come together. And when we come together, nothing can defeat us."

Watch Gov. Abbott's full message in the video above.
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