Gov. Abbott allows Texas youth summer camps to open under rapid COVID-19 test program

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- As Texas enters another summer in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Greg Abbott is allowing seasonal youth camps throughout the state to operate with the use of rapid tests.

The governor announced Tuesday the launch of a program that helps summer camps licensed by the Texas Department of State Health Services to conduct rapid tests of staff and campers during the summer months.

The video is a from a 2020 report on the different types of coronavirus testing.

Under the program, the state's Division of Emergency Management will provide participating summer camps with COVID-19 rapid antigen tests that will be administered to staff and campers who volunteer to participate.

SEE ALSO: What is a COVID-19 genetic, antigen and antibody test?

"As normalcy returns to Texas, we must remain vigilant against the spread of COVID-19 by identifying positive cases and mitigating any potential outbreaks throughout the state," said Abbott. "The COVID-19 Testing Program for Texas Youth Summer Camps will help camps safely operate throughout the summer by quickly identifying positive COVID-19 cases among campers and staff. I encourage qualifying summer camps to apply for this program so that we can continue to keep Texans safe from this virus."

Abbott's office released a registration link to DSHS camps to opt into the program.

The move is the latest step by the state to allow additional portions of everyday life to return to some semblance of normalcy.

Earlier this month, Abbott lifted COVID-19 restrictions, including a mask order in public spaces, citing Texas' growing vaccine shipments in the coming months.

Also, under Abbott's direction, Texas began widening eligibility of virus vaccinations to all adults regardless of age or medical condition.

SEE ALSO: Texas launches COVID-19 vaccine schedule sign-up as eligibility widens to 22 million adults

Given Tuesday's announcement, though, vaccine eligibility may only apply to just a percentage of youth camp participants. The Pfizer vaccine was approved for people 16 years and older, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson doses were OK'd for people 18 and older.

SEE MORE: Pfizer launches COVID vaccine trial for kids under 12

And over the course of the pandemic, Texans between the ages of under 1 year to 19 years old accounted for 5,060 confirmed virus cases, according to DSHS data.

Reported fatalities in the same age grouping were rare in Texas. There were 49 deaths due to COVID-19, DSHS data showed.

TEXAS COVID-19 CASES DASHBOARD
Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.