Governor issues new restrictions to combat coronavirus spread

Published 2:11 pm Thursday, March 19, 2020

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By Dawn Burleigh

As the world faces the greatest public health challenge in living memory, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Orders with further heighten guidelines during a press conference on Thursday.

It was the first one in Texas since 1901.

“I issued a state disaster on Friday and, to show how swiftly this situation is moving, on Monday, things changed,” Abbott said.

The CDC issued new restrictions of limiting the gathering of people to 10 as well as closing gyms, bars and restaurants.

“This is not local or regional,” Abbott said. “It is more than national. It is a global pandemic. The virus knows no geographic or boundaries.”

Abbott also added the new restrictions were not a shelter in place.

“All Americans need to comply with CDC standards for the next two weeks,” Abbott said.

The executive order states everyone person in Texas is to avoid groups of 10 or more, closed restaurants dining rooms, bars and gyms and prohibits visitations at nursing homes or other long-term facilities.

“Drive thrus are encouraged,” Abbott said. “All Texans have access to food, Remember restaurants as an option.”

The order goes into effect at Midnight Friday until midnight April 3, 2020.

“Schools are temporarily closed, but that does not mean education stops,” Abbott said.

He added superintendents and school districts were working on plans to continue educating students.

The order is to help reduce public contact as a way to combat the virus.

“We must strangle the expansion of the virus by reducing the ways it is transmitted,” Abbott said. “We do this today; we can get back to business as usual quickly.”

Abbott reminded citizens that Texans are known for uniting in times of challenges such as during Harvey.

“No one responds better to challenges than Texans,” Abbott said.

Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD also announced that he has declared a Public Health Disaster which will give state and local officials additional tools to respond to COVID-19. The Governor’s Executive Orders, combined with the Public Health Disaster, provide Texas with enhanced tools and protocols to help state and local partners in their ongoing efforts to respond to, track the progress of, and limit the spread of COVID-19 in Texas.

“The State of Texas is at a pivotal moment in our response to COVID-19, and it is imperative that we act now on preemptive measures to slow the spread of this virus,” said Governor Abbott. “One of the most effective ways we can do this is by promoting more social distancing and ensuring Texans avoid large group settings such as bars, restaurants, gyms, and schools where the risk of spreading COVID-19 is high. We must also continue to protect our most vulnerable populations, which is why the State of Texas is barring all visitations at nursing homes and retirement or long-term care facilities except in the case of critical assistance. Today’s executive orders are precautionary measures that are in line with guidelines from the CDC and they will strengthen Texas’ ability to safeguard our communities and respond to COVID-19. As Texans, we must continue to work collaboratively to slow the spread of this virus and protect public health.”

This executive order does not prohibit people from visiting a variety of places, including grocery stores, gas stations, parks, and banks, so long as the necessary precautions are maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. This executive order does not mandate sheltering in place. All critical infrastructure will remain operational, domestic travel will remain unrestricted, and government entities and businesses will continue providing essential services.