The front desk of the emergency room at Goodall-Witcher Hospital in Clifton on August 3, 2021.

Credit: Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune

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Gov. Greg Abbott announced new moves Monday to fight the coronavirus pandemic as it rages again in Texas, including asking hospitals to again put off certain elective procedures to free up space for COVID-19 patients.

Still, the governor’s announcement did not back down on his refusal to institute any new statewide restrictions on businesses or to let local governments and schools mandate masks or vaccines.

Instead, Abbott announced he had written to the Texas Hospital Association asking hospitals to “voluntarily postpone medical procedures for which delay will not result in loss of life or a deterioration in the patient’s condition.”

He also announced he was asking state agencies to open additional COVID-19 antibody infusion centers that aim to treat COVID-19 patients with therapeutic drugs and keep them from requiring hospitalization. And he said the Department of State Health Services “will be utilizing staffing agencies to provide medical personnel from out-of-state to Texas health care facilities to assist in COVID-19 operations.”

In recent days, key coronavirus indicators have spiked to levels not seen since the winter. Vaccinations started ticking up last month, though Texas continues to lag nationally in percent of people fully vaccinated, which stood at 44.4% as of Saturday.

As part of Monday’s announcement, Abbott’s office said he was directing state agencies to “increase vaccination availability across the state” but did not provide further details.

“Texans can help bolster our efforts by getting vaccinated against COVID-19,” Abbott said in the news release. “The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, and it is our best defense against this virus.”

Disclosure: Texas Hospital Association has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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