BRYAN, Texas — Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster for all counties in Texas Friday afternoon.
As of right now, Texas has 39 confirmed cases spread across 10 counties in the state. He spoke to the public today to address several concerns.
“From the very start, the state of Texas anticipated the possibility of community spread of COVID 19,” Gov. Abbott said.
Surrounded by a team of officials who’ve been dealing with coronavirus since at least January, Gov. Abbott assured people the state has been preparing for various possible scenarios.
“On January 31, DSHS activated the state medical operations center. Last week DSHS announced that 10 public health labs in Texas are now equipped to perform COVID 19 testing throughout the state.”
Working with schools and healthcare providers, DSHS has been on several calls with local health officials and school districts.
“Texas is seeking waivers for federal regulations for the school lunch program to give districts flexibility to provide students food should the district need to shut down,” he said.
Texas is also addressing concerns about health insurers.
“The state has also asked health insurers and HMO's operating in Texas to waive costs associated with the testing and telemedicine visits concerning coronavirus. If an uninsured person needs testing for coronavirus, there are two options, public health testing or private laboratory testing.”
The governor then held up a list of those providers willing to comply, and said that uninsured people needing tests need to consult with public health departments and their test would come at no cost to them.
“Texas public health labs have the capacity to test 273 people per day currently, with that ability to increase also with private labs coming online.”
Next week, CPL will be able to test several thousand people per week, and the first drive through testing facility in Texas is open in San Antonio.
According to the governor, “It will initially be for first responders, healthcare workers, operators of critical infrastructure and key resources and certain high risk patients.”
Governor Abbott is also in talks with other major cities in Texas to provide that kind of facility. He also noted the state’s disaster declaration authorizes various directives to take place in the coming days:
1. It will authorize the use of all available and necessary state resources to respond to COVID 19.
2. It will give the Texas division of emergency management the ability to reassign and fully utilize personnel where they are needed the most.
3. It will give the immediate ability to move resources around the state
4. It will empower the state attorney general to pursue price gouging cases and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law
5. And the governor’s office can now approve the waiving of state laws that hinder the ability to respond to COVID 19.
State agencies will also restrict visitation at nursing homes, state sponsored living centers, daycare, prisons, jails and juvenile facilities.
“I’m directing state agencies to provide flexible work and telework policies to employees to give them the ability to care for their families while ensuring the state government continues to function at full capacity and provide the necessary services,” he said.
Governor Abbott also wanted to stress Texans should be doing their part to ensure their neighbor’s safety too.
He noted, “There is absolutely no need to go out and stockpile supplies. There will be plenty available. We are gonna make it through this. We’ve been through situations like this before and we’ll make it through this as well.”
If you want to find our more about how the state is handling COVID 19, click here.
To find low or no cost healthcare providers, click here.