As the coronavirus continues in the United States, $8.4 billion will go toward funding research to combat the virus.
Harlingen will be a testing lab location for the coronavirus very soon and even though there aren’t any coronavirus cases in the valley, researchers are ready.
“We’re devoting an awful lot of time and resources to this and safety is first, we want to keep our health care workforce strong and uninfected so they can take care of patients which is what they do best,” said Dr. Michael Dobbs, MD, MHCM, a professor at UTRGV.
Although there isn’t any research being done with their students and staff yet, with federal funding approved this week, UTRGV Health Staff says they are ready to start.
“Research takes time and we’ll be very excited and ready to participate in things like clinical trials and vaccine trials at the appropriate time,” said Dr. Dobbs.
Friday, U.S. Congressman Vicente Gonzalez announced at UTRGV that Congress and local health officials are doing everything they can to get research started here locally.
“Part of the money is going to be spent as preventatives, part of it is going to kits, I think that’s what an issue was, we didn’t have enough testing kits,” said Gonzalez.
UTRGV also hosted a respiratory illness simulation that allowed local officials from Cameron and Hidalgo counties, as well as students and staff, to prepare for a potential outbreak.
“We talked about what we do in an event of a serious respiratory outbreak that could happen in a community setting, such as in the coronavirus,” said Dobbs.
As the valley remains clear of the coronavirus, all medical staff say the best thing to do is stay preventative by washing your hands for at least 20 seconds and always cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
“This is not a time to be alarmed or panicked, we have zero cases in Texas district 15, we have zero cases in South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley,” said Gonzalez.
The coronavirus testing lab in Harlingen will be opening later this month.