State of Texas Updates
Following are recent updates from the Office of Governor Greg Abbott regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. For additional information about the response from the State of Texas, please visit the Texas Department of State Health Service website at dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus.
(PHOTO: Office Of The Governor, 3/19/20)
Small Business Assistance Available from the State of Texas
3/20/2020: Governor Greg Abbott announced that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has included the entire state of Texas in its Economic Injury Disaster Declaration and granted access to its Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which will provide long-term, low-interest loans to qualifying businesses across the state. The Governor’s request was driven by COVID19-related economic losses across Texas related to major event cancellations, loss of walk-in customers, depletion of stock from suppliers, and client cancellations. Governor Abbott also commented on the SBA’s rapid turnaround to a request he made by letter just three days ago. Texas small businesses who believe they may be eligible for an SBA EIDL should visit www.sba.gov/disaster where they can directly apply for assistance. The online application is the fastest method to receive a decision about loan eligibility. You can learn more on the business page for the Governor’s Office.
For additional news and resources from the State of Texas regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19), go to gov.texas.gov/coronavirus.
March 26: Proclamation from the Governor’s Office
Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order Mandating 14-Day Quarantine For Travelers Arriving From New York Tri-State Area, New Orleans
WHEREAS, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, issued a disaster proclamation on March 13, 2020, certifying under Section 418.014 of the Texas Government Code that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) poses an imminent threat of disaster for all counties in the State of Texas; and
WHEREAS, the Texas Department of State Health Services has determined that, as of March 19, 2020, COVID-19 represents a public health disaster within the meaning of Chapter 81 of the Texas Health and Safety Code; and
WHEREAS, I issued Executive Order GA-08 on March 19, 2020, Executive Order GA-09 on March 22, 2020, and Executive Order GA-10 on March 24, 2020, all in response to the COVID-19 disaster; and
WHEREAS, many cases of COVID-19 in the State of Texas were caused by people who transmitted the virus to Texans after flying here from other states and countries; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, recently urged everyone who traveled from the New York metropolitan area to self-quarantine for 14 days to ensure that COVID-19 does not spread to others; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, likewise called for 14 days of self-quarantine of travelers from New York so that New York does not act as a “seeding point to the rest of the country;” and
WHEREAS, after the Governor of Florida imposed a quarantine on all air travelers arriving from the New York Tri-State Area, which is experiencing substantial community spread of COVID-19, the Mayor of New York City remarked to the press, “I understand it. We are the epicenter;” and
WHEREAS, the “governor is responsible for meeting . . . the dangers to the state and people presented by disasters” under Section 418.011 of the Texas Government Code, and the legislature has given the governor broad authority to fulfill that responsibility; and
WHEREAS, under Section 418.012, the “governor may issue executive orders . . . hav[ing] the force and effect of law;” and
WHEREAS, under Section 418.017(a), the “governor may use all available resources of state government and of political subdivisions that are reasonably necessary to cope with a disaster;” and
WHEREAS, under Section 418.018(c), the “governor may control ingress and egress to and from a disaster area and the movement of persons and the occupancy of premises in the area;” and
WHEREAS, under Section 418.173, failure to comply with any executive order issued during the COVID-19 disaster is an offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000, confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days, or both fine and confinement.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the State of Texas, do hereby order the following on a statewide basis effective at noon on March 28, 2020:
Every person who enters the State of Texas as the final destination through an airport, from a point of origin or point of last departure in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or the City of New Orleans, or in any other state or city as may be proclaimed hereafter, shall be subject to mandatory self-quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into Texas or the duration of the person’s presence in Texas, whichever is shorter. This order to self-quarantine shall not apply to people traveling in connection with military service, emergency response, health response, or critical-infrastructure functions, as may be determined by the Texas Division of Emergency Management. Each person covered under this order to self-quarantine shall be responsible for all associated costs, including transportation, lodging, food, and medical care.
A covered person shall use a form prescribed by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to designate a quarantine location in Texas, such as a residence or a hotel, and provide a full name, date of birth, home address, telephone number, and driver license or passport information. DPS Troopers, or other approved peace officers, shall collect a completed form from each covered person immediately upon disembarking and verify it against the person’s driver license or passport. Providing false information on this form is a criminal offense under Section 37.10 of the Texas Penal Code. Questions about this form should be directed to DPS at (800) 525-5555.
A covered person shall proceed directly from the airport to the designated quarantine location entered on the DPS form. Any covered person exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 shall be escorted to the designated quarantine location by a DPS Trooper.
A covered person shall remain in the designated quarantine location for a period of 14 days or the duration of the person’s presence in Texas, whichever is shorter, leaving only to seek medical care or to depart from Texas. During that period, a covered person shall not allow visitors into or out of the designated quarantine location, other than a health department employee, physician, or healthcare provider, and shall not visit any public spaces.
DPS Special Agents will conduct unannounced visits to designated quarantine locations to verify compliance by confirming the physical presence of covered persons. Any failure to comply with this order to self-quarantine shall be a criminal offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000, confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days, or both.
This executive order shall remain in effect and in full force until modified, amended, rescinded, or superseded by the governor.
Given under my hand this the 26th day of March, 2020.
Governor Greg Abbott
March 25: Press Release from the Governor’s Office
Governor Abbott Announces Federal Grant for Senior Citizen Meals
Governor Greg Abbott today announced that Texas has received a $16.2 million grant from the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration for Community Living (ACL) to help communities provide meals for older adults.
The grant was part of a $250 million dollar outlay authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020. Originally created by the Older Americans Act (OAA) of 1965, these programs provide meals to more than 2.4 million older adults nationwide each year, both through home delivery and in places like community centers.
“This grant is especially timely given the disproportionately high toll that COVID-19 has been taking on seniors around the world,” said Governor Abbott. “As social distancing measures increasingly and appropriately limit people’s social mobility, it is imperative that alternate means for feeding our state’s elderly like Meals on Wheels receive additional resources to handle the growing need.”
Texas will receive its proportional grant, $16,205,796, second only to California ($25 million) and Florida ($18 million) this week for further distribution to local meal providers.
Older adults who need assistance can contact the Eldercare Locator to find services available in their community. The Eldercare Locator can be reached at 1-800-677-1116 or https://eldercare.acl.gov/.
For more information about the Texas response to COVID-19, please visit https://texas.gov/#covid19/.
For more information about the Older Americans Act nutrition programs, please visit https://ACL.gov.
March 22: Press Release from the Governor’s Office
Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order Increasing Hospital Capacity, Announces Supply Chain Strike Force For COVID-19 Response
Governor Greg Abbott today signed an Executive Order to expand hospital bed capacity as the state responds to the COVID-19 virus. These actions will reinforce Texas’ health care capabilities and provide additional space for hospitals to provide care to COVID-19 patients. Under this order, the Governor directed all licensed health care professionals and facilities to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician. This does not apply to any procedure that, if performed in accordance with the commonly accepted standard of clinical practice, would not deplete the hospital capacity or the personal protective equipment needed to cope with the COVID-19 disaster.
The Governor also suspended certain regulations as requested by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to allow for increased occupancy of hospital rooms — meaning hospitals will be able to treat more than one patient in a patient room, thus increasing their ability to care for the growing number of COVID-19 patients.
Additionally, the Governor announced the creation of a temporary Supply Chain Strike Force — immediately naming Keith Miears, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Procurement at Dell Technologies, to serve as Supply Chain Director for the state of Texas. Miears will be supported by former State Representative John Zerwas, MD, who will assist with hospital relations and preparedness, Clint Harp, Vice President of Transmission Strategic Services for the Lower Colorado River Authority, who will assist with asset research and procurement, and Elaine Mendoza, Chair of the A&M Board of Regents, who will assist with statewide child care infrastructure for critical workers.
The Supply Chain Strike Force will be tasked with guiding collaboration between the public and private sectors to ensure health care facilities have the supplies and resources they need to respond to COVID-19. In addition to working with the federal government and businesses to secure necessary personal protective equipment, the team will work to ensure day-to-day resources (including food) are available for Texas’ medical personnel, first responders and those who have contracted COVID-19.
"We have seen how this virus has progressed in other states and nations, and it is vital that Texas stays ahead of the curve as the situation develops here," said Governor Abbott. "Patient care capacity is essential during this time, which is why the state of Texas is taking action to increase hospital bed capacity, provide additional space for medical personnel to care for patients, and ensure that healthcare facilities have the supplies needed to respond to COVID-19. Along with this Executive Order, the Supply Chain Strike Force will play a crucial role in addressing these needs by helping to secure and expedite the distribution of resources across the state. These are unprecedented times, and Texas will continue to take robust action to protect our communities and support those serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 response."
The Governor’s Executive Order takes effect immediately, and remains in effect and in full force until 11:59 p.m. on April 21, 2020, unless it is modified, amended, rescinded, or superseded by the Governor.
March 16: Press Release from the Governor’s Office
Governor Abbott Issues Executive Orders In Accordance With Federal Guidelines To Mitigate Spread Of COVID-19 In Texas
AUSTIN - Governor Greg Abbott today announced a series of Executive Orders relating to COVID-19 preparedness and mitigation. The four orders serve to limit public gatherings and help reduce exposure for people across the state. These orders are in accordance with federal guidelines issued by the President and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and will aid in the state’s efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Governor Abbott was joined for the announcement by Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) Chief Nim Kidd, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and Speaker Dennis Bonnen.
Commissioner Hellerstedt also announced that he has declared a Public Health Disaster which will give state and local officials additional tools to respond to COVID-19. The Governor’s Executive Orders, combined with the Public Health Disaster, provide Texas with enhanced tools and protocols to help state and local partners in their ongoing efforts to respond to, track the progress of, and limit the spread of COVID-19 in Texas.
"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.
These orders will be effective on a statewide basis starting at 11:59 PM on March 20, 2020 and will end at 11:59 PM on April 3, 2020, subject to extension thereafter based on the status of COVID-19 in Texas and the recommendations of the CDC.
This executive order does not prohibit people from visiting a variety of places, including grocery stores, gas stations, parks, and banks, so long as the necessary precautions are maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. This executive order does not mandate sheltering in place. All critical infrastructure will remain operational, domestic travel will remain unrestricted, and government entities and businesses will continue providing essential services.
For offices and workplaces that remain open, employees should practice good hygiene and, where feasible, work from home in order to achieve optimum isolation from COVD-19. The more that people reduce their public contact, the sooner COVID-19 will be contained and the sooner this executive order will expire.
Under Chapter 81 of the Health and Safety Code, Commissioner Hellerstedt’s Public Health Disaster Declaration triggers a number of important tools for state and local officials to respond to COVID-19:
- Texas and local health authorities can more easily require property owners to disinfect, decontaminate, and seal off property that might be contaminated.
- It authorizes health authorities to take additional control measures that they see fit to control and eradicate the threat to public health.
- It streamlines the process for state and local health authorities to invoke the courts to enforce quarantines of individuals.
- Activates enhanced tools for DSHS to collect disease and health information and to share that information with law enforcement personnel and first responders as appropriate.