Responders from the Disaster Assessment and Recovery Team of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service have been deployed throughout the state to help ensure urgently needed personal protective equipment and medical supplies get to those on the front lines of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have already sent AgriLife Extension agents, specialists, regional program leaders and district Extension administrators to locations throughout the state where there are regional staging areas for medical supply distribution,” said Monty Dozier, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension program director for disaster assessment and recovery, College Station.
“We’re helping support the mission of those organizations toward getting medical supplies and personal protective equipment into the hands of the people who need it the most,” Dozier said.
About 20 AgriLife Extension staffers are currently in place at staging areas in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso, Corpus Christi, Lubbock and Tyler, he said.
“With our agency’s presence throughout Texas, we stand ready in continuing our support of the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Texas Department of State Health Services in getting medical supplies to the front lines for those people fighting COVID-19,” said Jeff Hyde, Ph.D., director of the AgriLife Extension, College Station.
AgriLife Extension responders will help with inventory, packaging, repackaging and distribution of supplies from their respective staging areas.
Some of the items they are tasked with helping inventory and distribute include personal protective equipment, such as gloves, gowns, face masks and face shields, as well as medical supplies.
“We’re also involved in what we call the Pony Express part of supply fulfillment,” Dozier said. “If a healthcare facility or front-line operation makes a request, we will do our best to make sure the order is fulfilled quickly and expeditiously.”
Dozier said AgriLife Extension staff will be working at these staging sites on weekdays and weekends.
“We anticipate providing more people as needed to support these state emergency management and health agencies efforts until their mission is completed,” he said.
Dozier also noted AgriLife Extension agents and others will soon be trained on COVID-19 federal relief funding available to Texas communities affected by the pandemic.
“Agents throughout the state will be trained on the purpose and process of the federal stimulus package so they can assist local officials in better understanding how to qualify for and obtain COVID-19 federal relief funds,” he said.
Dozier said AgriLife Extension agents will provide information to representatives of local governments and serve as a safety net to help ensure eligible communities are aware of what funding is available, any eligibility requirements and how to apply for those funds.
“As we have seen with other disasters or emergencies affecting the state, federal funding is a vital part of community recovery,” he said. “It’s important we do our part in helping those local officials in communities throughout Texas understand the processes by which they can secure the funding needed to help restore their communities.”
Go to COVID-19: A hub of Extension resources for a variety of AgriLife Extension materials related to the current COVID-19 situation. These include resources on coronavirus prevention, emergency preparedness, health and wellness, food and nutrition, at-home parenting and child activities, self-reliance practices and more.