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TIMELINE: Texas continued response to COVID-19 pandemic

With lives and the economy hanging in the balance, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has been working closely with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to fight the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available. Check back often for the latest details and what Texans need to know about COVID 19.

A LOOK BACK AT TEXAS' RESPONSE TO COVID-19

The first U.S. case of COVID-19 was reported in a man in Washington state in January, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 35-year-old man, who has not been identified, sought treatment at an urgent care center after returning from Wuhan, China, according to FOX 13 in Seattle.

He was treated at the Everett Providence Regional Medical Center in Washington and made a full recovery, officials said.

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Texas Governor Abbott said in a press conference on Thursday, March 19 that he has been coordinating the state’s response to the coronavirus since the first confirmed case in the United States. Starting on January 24, the Texas Department of State Health Services began having daily calls with public health authorities, school districts, and county officials across the Lone Star State.

On February 15, it was reported that hundreds of Americans who were quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked off the coast of Yokohama, Japan, due to a coronavirus outbreak onboard would be evacuated to the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas for another two weeks of quarantine.

The first Texan who tested positive for COVID-19, that was not part of the Americans quarantined on a cruise ship, was on Wednesday, March 4. A week later, Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster for Texas.

RELATED: CoronavirusNOW.com, FOX launches national hub for COVID-19 news and updates

On Thursday, March 19, Abbott issued a public health disaster for the state of Texas. Abbott explained during a press conference that the executive orders brought the entire state of Texas 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 shuts down gyms and bars.

On March 24, Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference at the Texas Department of Public Safety warehouse facility. There, he announced that 715 Texans have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Johns Hopkins Resource Center had Texas' count at 810 as of March 24.

Abbott also said at the press conference that 11 Texans have died and more than 65 counties have had positive cases.

More than 11,000 people have been tested, according to Abbott.

On March 26, Gov. Greg Abbott instituted a mandatory self-quarantine period for people visiting from several areas hard hit by the coronavirus in the United States.

Airline travelers from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Orleans into Texas will have to self-quarantine for 14 days. Abbott said there would be enforcement of the quarantine by Texas Department of Public Safety troopers.

On March 29, Governor Abbott expanded on previous travel-related executive orders and he issued a new order stopping the release of dangerous felons from prisons and jails in Texas.

For the travel executive orders, Gov. Abbott initially had issued one mandating a 14-day self-quarantine for people coming to Texas through an airport from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and the city of New Orleans.

He expanded the mandatory self-quarantine to include those traveling by road from the entire state of Louisana. He also included travelers coming from Miami, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago and the states of California and Washington.

On March 31, Abbott issued an essential services order. The order would require anyone who is not considered an essential critical infrastructure worker to stay home. 

The order will limit everyone who lives or works within the state of Texas to only leave home for essential activity, essential business, essential government functions and critical care functions.

Law enforcement across the state can enforce the order which is punishable by a fine or jail time, according to Governor Abbott.

On April 3, Abbott announced during press conference that Texas has 19,695 hospital beds available, a 142% increase since the beginning of March. More than 2,000 ICU beds and over 8,700 ventilators are also available.

More than 1.4 million facemasks, 190,000 face shields, 2 million gloves, 160,000 gowns have been provided as well, according to Governor Abbott.

On April 6, Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference to provide an update on personal protective equipment (PPE) distribution throughout the state of Texas. According to Abbott, Texas has received 2.5 million masks in the past 24 hours and will receive an additional 3 million masks by April 11th.

Governor Abbott also provided a region-by-region breakdown of supplies that have been distributed over the past week - including masks, face shields, gloves, gowns, and coveralls. 

On April 8, Governor Abbott and other officials provided an update on the latest numbers concerning COVID-19. The governor says 96,258 people have been tested in the state and of those tested 9,107 have tested positive. More than 1,100 have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 175 people have died.

Gov. Abbott also talked about unemployment and urged people to be patient as an increase in staff will help the Texas Workforce Commission expedite claims.

Officials said they were unable to say when the peak in cases would be but stressed that the social distancing and guidelines and orders that have been put in place are working. They say the numbers continue to grow but that acceleration in cases has slowed.

The public is urged to continue to follow social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders as Gov. Abbott said that the sacrifices being made now are making a difference.

On April 13, Gov. Abbott held a news conference to announce a new small business initiative. Goldman Sachs is helping to provide $50 million for small business loans to help businesses affected by the coronavirus.

The governor then went to provide information on the latest numbers concerning COVID-19 in Texas. He said that as of the morning of April 13, more than 133,000 Texans had been tested for COVID-19 and of that number more than 13,000 have tested positive. 

More than 1,100 people who've tested positive have been hospitalized and nearly 300 Texans have died.

The governor said that more than 2,000 people who've tested positive have recovered and that Texas ranks second highest in the U.S. when it comes to the amount of people who've recovered from the coronavirus.

On April 17, Governor Abbott announced that Texas classrooms will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. He says teachers will be allowed in the classroom for video instruction, if they choose, to perform administrative duties or to clean up their classrooms.

Abbott also announced in the same press conference plans to reopen businesses in Texas that have been closed and or operating in a limited capacity due to the coronavirus COVID-19.

On May 5, Governor Abbott announced that Texas hair salons, barbershops, nail/tanning salons can reopen May 8, and gyms will be allowed to reopen at reduced capacity on May 18.

RELATED: Texas hair salons, barbershops, nail/tanning salons to reopen May 8; gyms on May 18

On Monday, May 18, Abbott announced that bars across the state could begin reopening on Friday. 

Bars were one of the last businesses in the state that had not been allowed to operate in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bars can reopen at 25 percent capacity, with no restrictions on outdoor areas.

Also on Friday, restaurants can operate at 50 percent instead of 25 percent capacity. “Texas is prepared to move into Phase 2 for the further opening of businesses,” Abbott said.

RELATED: Texas bars can reopen May 22; restaurants allowed at 50 percent capacity

Governor Abbott has also made a number of legislative changes in order to help fight the spread of coronavirus and to help Texans who are facing finical burdens as businesses across the state shut down. 

On September 17, Governor Greg Abbott announced the lifting of some restrictions and expanding the capacity of some businesses as he says the spread of COVID-19 has "steadily and significantly declined."

The governor says the move comes as the number of new cases and new hospitalizations in the state have been cut by more than two thirds since July and that the number of active cases has been cut in half. More importantly, the governor says that the number of people recovering from COVID-19 continues to increase.

The new order, which can begin as early as Monday, September 21, will apply to 19 regions in Texas but not in Laredo, Rio Grande Valley and Victoria where the governor says COVID-19 hospitalizations remain too high.

Gov. Abbott says businesses currently at 50% capacity can now increase to 75%. That includes all restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, manufacturing, museums, libraries, and gyms. Bars however will remain closed.

Hospitals in those 19 regions will also be able to return to ordinary elective surgical procedures.

All nursing facilities, assisted living centers, state-supported living centers, and other long-term care facilities will be allowed to reopen for visitation.

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