Gov. Greg Abbott's office announced Aug. 9 the state has asked hospitals to voluntarily postpone elective medical procedures and is looking to staffing agencies to draw medical personnel from other states as Texas sees a growing number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations and shrinking hospital capacity.

In a letter to the Texas Hospital Association on Aug. 9, Abbott said multiple trauma service areas within Texas have approached the 15% threshold of COVID-19 hospitalizations as a percentage of total hospital capacity.

In total, the state recorded 9,462 COVID-19 hospitalizations Aug. 8, a 4.81% increase in hospitalizations statewide since the previous day, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Abbott previously issued executive orders in 2020 mandating elective surgeries be postponed, and Senate Bill 968 signed into law June 16 empowers the Texas Medical Board to "impose temporary limitations on certain elective medical procedures during a disaster," according to the letter. However, Abbott said he asks hospitals to voluntarily postpone elective medical procedures or refer some COVID-19 patients to infusion sites to free up hospital beds and avoid a state order.

"Among other strategies, hospitals could voluntarily postpone medical procedures of which delay will not result in loss of life or a deterioration in the patient's condition," Abbott wrote.

Further, the Texas Division of Emergency Management and DSHS will open additional COVID-19 antibody infusion centers across the state; infusion centers can treat eligible COVID-19 patients with therapeutic drugs to prevent patients from worsening and needing hospital care. This tactic can help increase bed capacity statewide, according to the release.

According to the release, an existing infusion center in Lubbock will expand capacity, and five new centers will debut the week of Aug. 9, with the first opening Aug. 10 in San Antonio.

A map of therapeutic treatment availability in Texas can be found here; eligible patients must receive a referral from a doctor.

"As we have seen throughout the course of the pandemic, antibody therapeutic treatments are a highly effective tool to ensure that those who are sick with COVID-19 are able to recover more quickly," Abbott wrote in an Aug. 9 letter to the Texas hospital and medical associations. "In order to assist with the increased demand on the hospital system, and to ensure that no hospital bed needed to treat our state's most ill patients is taken to provide therapeutic treatment, the state of Texas is again working with local emergency management officials to open COVID-19 therapeutic infusion centers at their request."

Abbott and the TDEM previously added two therapeutic centers in Forth Worth and Irving in January, according to a news release, to reduce hospitalizations.

Additionally, as the state combats the rising numbers, the DSHS is working with staffing agencies to provide out-of-state medical personnel to Texas facilities to aid in COVID-19 operations, according to the Aug. 9 release.

"The state of Texas is taking action to combat the recent rise in COVID-19 cases and ensure that our hospitals and communities have the resources and support they need to mitigate the virus," Abbott said in the release. "Texans can help bolster our efforts by getting vaccinated against COVID-19."