AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott issued statewide mandates Thursday, taking sweeping action against the spread of COVID-19.
“The traditional model that we have employed in the state of Texas for such a long time so effectively does not apply to an invisible disease that knows no geographic and no jurisdictional boundaries and threatens the lives of our fellow Americans across the entire country,” said Abbott.
Joining Gov. Abbott during the press conference 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.
During his Thursday announcement Abbott issued an executive order consisting on four orders to help mitigate spread of the coronavirus:
- 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.
Abbott’s executive order goes into effect at midnight Friday.
The orders do not ban people from gathering in certain public places such as grocery stores, gas stations, parks and banks. Abbott wanted to make it clear that his executive order does not mandate sheltering in place.
“Working together, we must defeat COVID-19 with the only tool that we have available to us, we must strangle its expansion by reducing the ways that we are currently transmitting it,” Abbott said while announcing his executive order. “We are doing this now, today, so that we can get back to business as usual more quickly.”
Abbott also announced that critical infrastructure will remain open and operational with domestic travel remaining unrestricted and government agencies continuing to offer essential services.
Along with Abbott’s executive order, Health and Safety Code Commissioner Hellerstedt issued a Public Health Disaster. This declaration gives state and local officials extra tools to combat 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 the Department of State Health Services to collect disease and health information and to share that information with law enforcement personnel and first responders as appropriate.