Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in a live address Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. said that there are now 715 people in Texas who have tested positive to COVID-19 with 11 deaths. Gov. Abbott kept his declaration of March 20 that expires April 3 stating there is no shelter in place order as of now but said bluntly, stay home or be at risk of contracting COVID-19.
“Now, let me just say that we want to emphasize that as Texans we’re all in this together,” said Gov. Abbott. “We have certain simple things that we all can and we all must do. One is to maintain this practice of social distancing. Two, is if at all possible, stay home,” said Gov. Abbott. “If you’re out and about, regardless of what you may be doing, you need to understand that you are compromising your health and you’re potentially exposing yourself to contracting COVID-19. As a result, the best thing that you can do to ensure that we are not spreading COVID-19 in the state of Texas is to stay home.”
The number of counties affected total 65 as of today and the total number of COVID-19 tests for suspected cases increased from 2,300 on March 20 to 11,000 on March 23. “You can expect the number of tests to continue to go up every single day,” said Gov. Abbott. There are 254 counties in Texas and as of March 19, 27 counties had individuals that had tested positive.
Gov. Abbott said that Texas is following the CDC mandated standards to ensure that the state is doing its part to curb COVID-19 cases. “We have a countrywide goal and that is over the next 15 days we want to slow the spread of the coronavirus in our country,” stated Gov. Abbott. Abbott said that today he was shocked at the number of drivers out on the highways.
Call for retired medical professionals and nursing students
Gov. Abbott said that they are working daily to expand hospital capacity in every region of the state. He also said they are doing everything possible to increase medical capacity. “The doctors and nurses and other medical persons that we have in the state – they are the soldiers on the frontline of this war against COVID-19,” said Gov. Abbott. “We need more soldiers on that front line. As a result, we are enlisting every doctor every nurse every medical personnel that we can.” The Governor said to go to texas.gov to volunteer if you are a retired medical professional or in nursing or medical school. He is expanding the scope of the nurses who can be involved in helping out in responding to COVID-19. He said also if you have any masks or medical supplies to donate, to please also go to texas.gov.
The Governor said that Texas will continue to be very aggressive in aggregating as much personal protection equipment, medical supplies and testing capacity as we possibly can. “Remember this as a reminder about who we are as a people for Texans,” said Gov. Abbott “Texans are always resilient, and we will once again, as we always do, show the world how Texans respond when we come together. And, when we come together nothing can defeat us. Instead, we come together, and we will defeat COVID-19 in the state of Texas.”
Governor Abbott issued a declaration March 20 at midnight that ends on April 3 in an effort to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, including executing the state’s emergency management plan and issuing multiple executive orders, in accordance with guidelines from President Trump and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Statewide, these include:
- mandatory avoidance of social gatherings of more than 10 people;
- mandatory avoidance of dine-in eating and drinking at bars or restaurants, and of gyms or massage establishments;
- prohibition on non-critical visits to nursing homes, retirement or long-term care facilities; and
- the temporary closure of in-person school operations.
The Governor has also issued multiple waivers of state law to remove barriers limiting the response to this pandemic and activated the Texas National Guard to be prepared to assist with response efforts for COVID-19. To date, more than 466 Texas jurisdictions have submitted local disaster declarations, a number that is expected to rise.
Governor Greg Abbott has also issued a letter to President Trump requesting a presidential declaration of a major disaster in Texas based on the continued impact of COVID-19. This action follows on the heels of a series of proactive measures, including declaring a state of disaster for all 254 Texas counties on March 13, 2020.
Filed in accordance with the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, the request is based in part on Governor Abbott’s conclusion that the ongoing COVID-19 incident is of such severity and magnitude that supplementary federal assistance is necessary to save lives, to protect property, public health, and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a larger disaster.
“Texas is all-in on our response to COVID-19 and we need Washington’s financial assistance as provided for under the law to support our efforts to limit the spread of this virus,” said Governor Abbott. “COVID-19-related expenses and obligations are already exceeding $50 million and that will only rise as our efforts continue. Additional federal funding is essential for us to maintain our aggressive course of action to protect our state.”
In his letter, the Governor specifically requested Individual Assistance Crisis Counseling and Public Assistance Category B (Emergency Protective Measures) including Direct Federal Assistance for all 254 counties in Texas.
The requested federal aid would be used to overcome the current shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), needed medical equipment and testing supplies as well as looming shortages of hospital beds, medical equipment, and a healthy and adequate cadre of medical personnel.
The letter also designated Chief Nim Kidd as the Governor’s Authorized Representative and State Coordinating Officer, tasked with continuing his coordination with FEMA on all matters related to COVID-19.