Coronavirus in Texas: Governor announces public health disaster
Health

Coronavirus in Texas: Governor announces public health disaster

AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Thursday a public health disaster for the first time in more than 100 years due to coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. This is the first time a public health disaster has been issued in Texas since 1901.

The disaster declaration gives the state and local officials the tools and resources they need to combat coronavirus.

Abbott also issued an executive order that requires all Texas bars, gyms and restaurant dining rooms to close. Texas schools are also ordered to temporarily close. This order is not a shelter in place, Abbott said.

“We as a country must swiftly elevate our response to COVID-19,” the governor said. “It is essential that all Americans comply with the CDC standards.”

The executive order will begin on Friday, March 20, and end on April 3.

During the March 19 press conference, Abbott was joined by Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner John Hellerstedt, Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) Chief Nim Kidd, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Dennis Bonnen.

WATCH: Gov. Abbott gives updates on state’s response to COVID-19


Here’s what falls under Abbott’s executive order:

  1. Every person in Texas must avoid social gatherings that have more than 10 people.
  2. People should avoid eating and drinking at bars, restaurants and food courts or visiting gyms. There will be no dining at bars or restaurant dining rooms since they will be closed. Restaurants can still offer take-out options.
  3. People shall not visit nursing homes, retiring centers or long-term care facilities unless they’re providing critical care assistance.
  4. All Texas schools must close temporarily. This does not mean that education stops. Superintendents will continue to work with the Texas Education Agency to continue online or additional educational options.

There are more than 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state of Texas, and more than 20 of those cases are in the Austin area alone. At least three people in the state have died due to coronavirus.

Restaurants are still allowed to offer to-go, take-out and delivery options. The governor is allowing some Texas restaurants to deliver alcohol with any food purchase. The alcoholic beverages include wine, beer and mixed drinks. This is in an effort to help the hospitality industry.

“The State of Texas is committed to supporting retailers, restaurants and their employees,” said Gov. Abbott. “These waivers will allow restaurants to provide enhanced delivery options to consumers during this temporary period of social distancing.”

On Monday, Austin Mayor Steve Adler ordered that the City close its bars and restaurant dining rooms, and service employees are already feeling the impact. If your job was impacted by coronavirus, here’s what you should know, including how to apply for benefits in the state of Texas.

RELATED: Coronavirus layoffs: What to know if you lost your job

According to DSHS, here are a few ways Texans can help slow the spread of COVID-19:

  • Stay home as much as possible, especially if you are sick, older and/or have a medical condition.
  • If you are sick, stay home except to access medical care. If you are able to take care of yourself, stay home. If you need to see your doctor, call ahead.
  • Avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and non-essential trips into the public.
  • Cancel events of more than 10 people.
  • Limit close contact (at least six feet) with other people. Employers should allow alternative work options as much as possible.

For all of the latest Central Texas coronavirus news for Thursday, go here.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

WATCH: Flatten the curve: Slowing the spread of coronavirus


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