PUBLIC HEALTH DISASTER DECLARED IN THE STATE OF TEXAS
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) took action, along with Dr. John Hellerstedt, Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, and declared a Public Health Disaster in the state of Texas. The declaration gives state and local officials more tools to more effectively respond to the spread of COVID-19 across the state.
“(Dr. Hellerstedt) insists that Texas needs a unified, robust response to contain COVID-19,” Abbott said. “To achieve that goal, Dr. Hellerstedt, earlier today, declared a Public Health Disaster in the state of Texas.”
Abbott issued an executive order adopting the standards presented by President Trump and the CDC.
The executive order contains four parts: 1. Every person in Texas shall avoid social gatherings and groups more than 10; 2. People shall avoid eating and drinking in bars and restaurants, in food courts or visiting gyms; 3. People shall not visit nursing homes, retirement centers or long-term care facilities, unless to provide critical assistance; 4. All schools in the state of Texas shall be temporarily closed.
The order went into effect at midnight on Friday and runs until midnight on April 3. The order could be extended, depending on the status of COVID-19 in Texas.
“Simply put, there will be no dining in at bars and restaurants and gyms will be closed,” Abbott said. “Provided, however, (...)the use of drive-thru, pick-up or delivery options is allowed, in fact, highly encouraged throughout the limited duration of this executive order.”
Abbott also said that even though schools are closed, educational opportunities should not stop. He stressed that the state superintendent and the Texas Educational Agency work together to continue online or additional educational opportunities.
The order is not a shelter-in-place order. It does not prevent citizens from outdoor activity and infrastructure will remain open. Abbott asked businesses to limit their workplaces to only essential employees and encourages them to work remotely where possible. However, Abbott warned that further action could be taken should the need arise.
“This establishes the standards in which all Texas are required to live their daily lives by,” Abbott said. “(...) one reason for the announcement for the Public Health Disaster by Dr. Hellerstedt, the state now has quarantine authority. We don’t want to exercise that authority, (...) we want to depend on the responsibility that all Texas will show. If Texans are irresponsible in their behavior, though, there are more tools where we can be more aggressive, only if needed.”