EL PASO, Texas -- ABC-7's Erik Elken spoke late Monday afternoon to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott about the Covid-19 pandemic response. You can watch the interview in the video player above, and a transcript is provided below.
Q: Today you announced the creation of an antibody treatment wing at the El Paso convention center. What kind of immediate difference will this make?
"Listen, this will make a difference between life and death for people in El Paso. We worked with the federal government to get a special allocation of the Eli Lilly antibody therapeutic drug. A thousand doses have already been sent to El Paso. It is being administered to patients in El Paso today. This is the type of drug therapy that allows a person to overcome COVID and with this special allocation added to the allocation already, there will be countless people in El Paso who will be able to stay out of the hospital and get well more quickly."
Q: What is your message to the 1,000+ El Paso families who have lost a loved one to this virus -- many of whom who have expressed frustration with the politics... Particularly what we recently saw in the disconnect between the city, county and state?
"It's important we call work together, because we all have a role to play and that is in part that includes things like the medicines that were delivered today in part it involves all of the medical staffers and surgical operations that were sent but just as important is that everyone has a role to play in making sure that we slow the spread of COVID-19 it is exactly what we did this past summer in July when we saw the spike at that time and everybody came together at that time and followed those same rules that we have now. Make sure you maintain your distance from others when you go outside, make sure that you wear a mask and if at all possible, especially if you are elderly, stay home and don't put yourself in a situation where you can contract COVID-19. But the good news is this and that is now we're finally at the moment in time when we do have medicines available to us, and in addition to these medicines we also have vaccines that we will be capable of delivering to El Paso in just a couple of weeks."
Q: You mentioned working together. We have been in this current surge here in El Paso for more than a month, hundreds of bodies are in mobile morgues due to a backlog. Why at this time more than ever is there not a direct line of communication between you and the county judge?
"I have personally spoken to the County Judge, my chief of staff has spoken to the County Judge and we've been clear about exactly what he needs to do to make sure that he takes the action necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 in El Paso County. For example, I made clear to him that he needed to start enforcing the protocols that already existed and the order that were issued long ago and he told me at the time he didn't feel like he was capable of enforcing those rules as they were issued. And so we followed up with my chief of staff explaining to him the necessity to do this, and then on top of that we also sent additional officers from the TABC to make sure the state of Texas was doing everything we can, but we also urged the judge to do was to use the CARES Act funding that has already been provided to him to make sure he was able to go out and get additional personnel to enforce the rules that exist. Other jurisdictions have used that CARES funding to make sure the rules are enforced, exactly what the judge needs to continue to do. As we work our way through this response to COVID-19, as we bring on board these medications as well as the vaccines that will begin to both cure and heal people in El Paso."
Q: Attorney General Ken Paxton’s response to the legal victory, he referred to the county judge as a tyrant. Are you okay with that type of language during this time and what we're seeing here in El Paso?
"We need to make sure we're all working together. We're working at the state level to make sure we save lives and get things like this very unique opportunity to provide an extra allocation of these therapies to people in El Paso in a greater volume than elsewhere. We need to work together by making sure local officials enforce the protocols that I put in place months ago and work together to make sure we all do our part to slow the spread, because we're in the ninth inning now of this process. We need to continue to follow the best practices, we need patients who may have COVID to go to the El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center where we have set up an alternative care site where they can get the therapy from Eli Lilly that will be able to cure them from COVID-19."
Governor Greg Abbott, thanks so much for your time.
"Thank you all. Be safe and Happy Thanksgiving."