Gov. Abbott issues social distancing order through April, closes Texas schools until May 4

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Gov. Greg Abbott issued social distancing protocols through April 30 and closed schools through May 4 in an executive order announced on Tuesday to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Only essential businesses will be open through the month of April forcing gyms, massage clinics and cosmetology salons to close for another 30 days.

Grocery stores, restaurants/bars (if food pick-up or delivery is available), banks and hardware stores are considered essential and will remain open, according to Abbott.

The new order “will be effective on a statewide basis starting at 12:01 AM on April 2, 2020 and will end on April 30, 2020, subject to extension thereafter based on the status of COVID-19 in Texas and the recommendations of the CDC.”

The Texas Division of Emergency Management has published an online list of essential services. Other essential services may be added to this list with the approval of TDEM.

Current List of Essential Service provided by state

  1. HEALTHCARE / PUBLIC HEALTH
  2. LAW ENFORCEMENT, PUBLIC SAFETY, AND OTHER FIRST RESPONDERS
  3. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
  4. ENERGY
  5. WATER AND WASTEWATER
  6. TRANSPORTATION AND LOGISTICS
  7. PUBLIC WORKS AND INFRASTRUCTURE SUPPORT SERVICES
  8. COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
  9. OTHER COMMUNITY- OR GOVERNMENT-BASED OPERATIONS AND ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS
  10. CRITICAL MANUFACTURING
  11. HAZARDOUS MATERIALS
  12. FINANCIAL SERVICES
  13. CHEMICAL
  14. DEFENSE INDUSTRIAL BASE
  15. COMMERCIAL FACILITIES
  16. RESIDENTIAL/SHELTER FACILITIES AND SERVICES
  17. HYGIENE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

“Social distancing is working, now is the time to redouble our efforts,” Gov. Abbott said Tuesday.

Texas is now following the federal government’s guidelines and protocols for social distancing recommendations. On Sunday, President Donald Trump extended the country’s approach to social distancing until April 30.

For violators of this executive order, Gov. Abbott says all law enforcement officers can impose the order with a fine or jail time of up to 180 days. Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt is also capable of issuing a quarantine order for violators of the order, according to Abbott.

Texas schools will remain closed until at least Monday, May 4 creating a uniform date for all Texas counties. There was a discussion over the weekend about closing Texas schools for the remainder of the academic year.

“I do have the authority to ensure that schools remain close for the remainder of the school year,” Abbott said Sunday, explaining that he would meet with Morath this week to discuss “his assessment of what needs to be done with regard to school closures.”

Gov. Abbott also provided the state’s latest numbers for testing and confirmed cases of coronavirus. As of 12 p.m. Tuesday, Abbott reports the state has administered nearly 43,000 with 3,266 tests resulting in a positive diagnosis. 41 Texans have died due to complications with the coronavirus, according to the state.

There are 122 counties reporting a positive case of COVID-19 out of 254 total counties in Texas.

Abbott’s press conference comes a day after he announced public safety employees would be reimbursed for certain medical expenses related to treatment of COVID-19, should they get infected.

“These brave men and women are on the front lines and risking potential exposure to keep our communities safe,” Abbott said in a Monday statement. “By waiving these statutory provisions, Texas will ensure that those who may contract COVID-19 will have the support they need to pay for medical expenses.”

The federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare approved on Monday a request from Abbott and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to authorize flexibility for services through Medicaid.

On Monday, Abbott hosted a conference call with state lawmakers that highlighted the state’s coronavirus testing capabilities and expansion of hospital bed capacity, according to posts on social media by legislators.

Abbott has also issued recent executive orders mandating self-quarantine for air travelers from certain cities and states as well as all road travelers entering Texas from Louisiana.

Watch the full press conference below:

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