Texas Governor Greg Abbott today declared a public health disaster, which will give state and local health officials additional tools to respond to COVID-19. This is the first public health disaster declared in Texas since 1901.
Abbott along with Texas Department of Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD announced during a press conference announced a series of executive orders which will bring the entire state of Texas in line with CDC guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“The State of Texas is at a pivotal moment in our response to COVID-19, and it is imperative that we act now on preemptive measures to slow the spread of this virus,” said Governor Abbott. “One of the most effective ways we can do this is by promoting more social distancing and ensuring Texans avoid large group settings such as bars, restaurants, gyms, and schools where the risk of spreading COVID-19 is high. We must also continue to protect our most vulnerable populations, which is why the State of Texas is barring all visitations at nursing homes and retirement or long-term care facilities except in the case of critical assistance. Today’s executive orders are precautionary measures that are in line with guidelines from the CDC and they will strengthen Texas’ ability to safeguard our communities and respond to COVID-19. As Texans, we must continue to work collaboratively to slow the spread of this virus and protect public health.”
The following orders have been issued by Governor Abbott:
- Order No. 1: In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, every person in Texas shall avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.
- Order No. 2: In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, people shall avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, or visiting gyms or massage parlors; provided, however, that the use of drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options is allowed and highly encouraged throughout the limited duration of this executive order.
- Order No. 3: In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, people shall not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
- Order No. 4: In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, schools shall temporarily close.
The orders take effect at midnight Friday, March 20 and will go through midnight on Friday, April 3
Until today’s announcement, Abbott had left most of those decisions to local governments. Grocery stores and pharmacies are allowed to remain open.
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