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Texas Governor Greg Abbott Fights Coronavirus With Disaster Declaration In Texas

Updated on March 15, 2020
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Ed is an attorney who was a sportswriter in an earlier life.

Greg Abbott Fights Coronavirus

Texas Governor Greg Abbott Issues Disaster Declaration

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration Friday for all 254 counties in the Lone Star State, according to an article in the Austin Statesman newspaper. A short time later the same day, President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency. Trump's action would make up to $50 billion available in federal funds.

Abbott Says 39 Confirmed Coronavirus Cases In Texas

The top official in Texas also said there are 39 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the Austin-Statesman. Abbott further stated during a Capitol news conference in Austin, Texas, that, "To ensure that the state of Texas and our cities and counties are fully capable to prepare and respond to COVID-19, I am at this moment declaring a state disaster for all counties in the state of Texas."

Authority To Restrict Visits To Nursing Homes

The Texas governor issued several directives as part of his disaster proclamation, during his press conference, according to the Austin newspaper. One of the areas covered was nursing homes. Other facilities include state-supported day care facilities, prisons, jails and juvenile facilities.

Abbott Encourages Telemedicine

Abbott said his action will require state agencies to "take any action nececessary to facilitate telemedicine,: while providing flexible work and telecommuting policies for agency employees, according to the Statesman. There will be certain exceptions.

End-Of-Life Visitations

End of life visitations are a major exception to the directive limiting visits to nursing homes and other facilities, according to the governor's orders. He further said, "We want to make sure that we do all that we can to prevent this vulnerable senior population or others in hospitals from contracting COVID-19."

220 Texans Tested

So far, 220 Texans have been tested for COVID-19 by public health labs or the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Abbott. He further mentioned during the news conference at the Texas State Capitol that 75 additional people are being tested in the state.

Capacity To Test 273 Texans Daily

The governor also said the public labs in Texas currently have the ability to test about 273 Texans a day. He expects that number to increase.

First Drive-Through Testing In San Antonio

During his thorough press conference, he further discussed drive-through testing. The governor said the first available facility in Texas is operating in San Antonio,

Austin And Dallas Drive-Throughs

During his extensive conference, Abbot also mentioned that Dallas and Austin will soon have drive-through testing. He cautioned it was too soon to tell how many people they will be able to test each day, according to the Austin Statesman article Friday.

New Cases In Texas

New cases of the virus have occurred recently, according to the Austin American-Statesman. American Airlines indicated one of their pilots based in Dallas-Fort Worth tested positive late Thursday. Airline officials said in a press release the risk of transmission to passengers is low.

Other New Cases

Other new cases in Texas have been reported in the Houston, Dallas and Austin areas. State and local authorities in Austin and elsewhere canceled schools and events. Collin County, which includes McKinney, and Frisco have also reported cases.

Traveler From California

A traveler from California coming back to Frisco is reported to be one case. Some of his family members have also tested positive for the virus.

First Central Texas Cases

Early Friday before the governor's press conference, Austin health officials confirmed the first two presumptive cases in Central Texas. A man in his 60s was hospitalized, according to officials. The second is a woman in her 30s who has isolated herself at home.

University Of Texas Struck By Virus

The University of Texas has been struck by the virus. UT President Gregory L. Fenves announced his wife, Carmel, contracted the virus. Another member of his family who also works at UT, is presumed to have the virus as well.

The University of Texas announced it would cancel classes, according to the Washingon Post newspaper.

Abbott Hometown Has No Cases

United Regional Hospital of Wichita Falls, Texas reported thirty minutes ago there are no positive tests for the corona virus in the North Texas city near the Oklahoma border. Governor Abbott was born in Wichita Falls.

First Methodist and First Presbyterian Church announced they would cancel services Sunday.

CDC To Give Texas $37 Million

The Center For Disease Control, a federal agency, said earlier this week it would give the Lone Star State $37 million. The Texas Department of State Health Care Services must submit information to the CDC as to how the funds will be spent, according to he U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Abbott Held Teleconference With Local Offficials

Earlier this week, Abbott hosted a telephone conference with Texas legislators, mayors, and county judges to provide an update on the state's ongoing efforts to combat coronavirus, according to Greg Abbott's Press Office. The Governor outlined Texas' strategies to mitigate the spread of COV-19.

Work From Home

During his Friday press conference from the State Capitol, Abbott encouraged people to work from home. He said, "We don't need people that are sick coming to work. A byproduct of more people at home, that will increase demand upon the internet band. With this increase, the private sector is stepping up and is waiving fees for unlimited usage for anyone without unlimited data plans."

Insurance For Testing

Abbott also mentioned the state has asked health insurers and HMOs in Texas to waive costs on testing for this illness. He said, "For the uninsured, you have two options: Public health testing or private laboratory testing."

For public health testing, the patient is required to have a consultation and if they meet criteria, they will be tested. He said private testing could also occur but could cost a person.

Those looking to be tested at a public health lab are asked to call 211 and will be directed to a facility with low or no cost providers.

Abbott Helps Stores Restock

The Texas governor further waived some trucking regulations to help expedite delivery of resources, Saturday, according to KBNT, Channel 12 News, an NBC affiliate.This move by the head official is aimed at combating empty shelves at grocery stores.

He said in a news release Saturday, "As the State of Texas seeks to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus, we are taking precautionary measures to ensure that Texans have access to the goods and supplies they need."

Texans Flood Grocery Stores

As concerns for the coronavirus continue to spread, peoeple are flooding grocery stores in southeast Texas and across the United States. Stores have been running out of toilet paper, cleaning supplies and bottled water.

Popular stores like H-E-B, Kroger and Walmart have addressed growing concerns of customers. H-E-B says employees are working "around the clock to keep our shelves stocked."

Greg Abbott

State Senator Pat Fallon Confers With Greg Abbott

Texas State Senator Pat Fallon said Saturday he just got off the phone with Governor Abbott. He said, "..We discussed at length the coronavirus and the actions, planning and precautions taking place as we speak."

Fallon further said that Labcorp and Quest Diagnostics have indicated a willingness to expand testing capabilities if necessary. Tests will be doctor-ordered after an assessment and diagnosis based off symptoms.

He further made this significant statement, "The State of Texas is encouraging school closures, but that will remain a local decision."

He concluded by saying, "God bless you and God bless Texas!"


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