AUSTIN, Texas - Across Texas, non-essential businesses like gyms have been closed since late last week. Restaurants have transitioned to delivery and to go-orders, and hanging out in groups larger than 10 is discouraged.
On Tuesday, a letter from Texas Democrats was sent to Gov. Greg Abbott urging him to follow what several cities have done and issue a stay-at-home executive order for all of Texas. Abbott declined to do that.
"Candidly, if you look at all of the stay-at-home orders, they're fairly consistent with my executive order, with one exception, my executive order allows people to gather in groups no more than 10,” said Abbott.
All the traffic the governor said he saw on the road Tuesday could eventually bring about a change.
“We will continue to evaluate based upon all the data, whether or not there needs to be heightened standards and stricter enforcement,” said Abbott.
The DPS warehouse was selected to showcase the state's response to COVID-19. Boxes filled with protective medical gear is gathered here. Some of it was donated, some were purchased by a special strike force. Much of what's come in, according to the governor, has already been dispersed.
"Altogether, next week, Texas should be getting more than a million masks per week,” said Abbott.
Getting the gear out is critical. Many health professionals, first responders, and even jailers have been working with no protective gear since the outbreak. Because of that, officials with CLEAT, a law enforcement advocacy group, issued a release. The group, according to CLEAT Public Affairs Coordinator Jennifer Szimanski, wants the governor to modify the workers-comp law, which would classify testing positive for COVID 19 as a line of duty injury.
"We don’t know what kind of long term effects this is going to have, we don’t know how long an officer could be out, we don’t know if their family is going to be exposed as result of them being exposed,” Szimanski said.
Abbott did not address the work comp issue during the briefing. He did talk about making it easier for out of state and retired medical professionals to volunteer. Abbott also issued an executive order requiring hospitals to make daily reports about bed capacity, and report on how many tests have been done each day. The Governor said when the crisis starts to fade, that will be the time to start talking about the economy.
Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a public health disaster, the first in Texas since 1901. The executive orders, which take effect at midnight Friday, March 20 and go through midnight on Friday, April 3, will bring the state in line with CDC guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The public health disaster orders schools to be closed statewide until at least April 3. The disaster also orders a ban on dine-in eating and gathering in groups of more than 10 as the state ramps up efforts to battle the coronavirus. Abbott's order also will shut down gyms and bars. It also bans visits to nursing and retirement homes unless there is a critical need.
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