• April 2, 2020

Abbott locks down all of Texas - Odessa American: State Government

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Abbott locks down all of Texas

State order overrides local declarations

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Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2020 3:45 pm

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday announced four executive orders limiting public gatherings to reduce exposure to the coronavirus that extends school closure to April 3 as well as sweeping changes to other businesses.

The orders limit social gatherings of more than 10 people, closes bars, restaurants, and food courts although drive-thru, takeout and delivery are still allowed. The order prevents people from visiting gyms or massage parlors as well as preventing people from visiting nursing homes, retirement or long-term care facilities unless they are providing critical assistance and schools are temporarily closed.

The order comes a day after Odessa Mayor David Turner and Midland Mayor Patrick Payton issued emergency declarations for the Permian Basin. The local declarations did not order closures or restrict restaurants to take out or delivery only.

The orders begin at 11:59 p.m. Friday until April 3. A news release details that the orders can be extended based on the status of the coronavirus in Texas and the recommendations of the CDC.

People will still be able to visit grocery stores, gas stations, parks, and banks as long as the, “Necessary precautions are maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.”

The order does not mandate sheltering in place and detailed that infrastructure will remain operational, domestic travel will remain unrestricted, and government entities and businesses will continue providing “essential services.”

The press release details that the disaster declaration triggers resources for state and local officials to respond to the virus. Texas and local health authorities can more easily require property owners to disinfect, decontaminate, and seal off property that might be contaminated. Health authorities are will be authorized to take “additional control measures that they see fit to control and eradicate the threat to public health.”

 It also streamlines the process for state and local health authorities to invoke the courts to enforce quarantines of individuals and activates enhanced tools for DSHS to collect disease and health information and to share that information with law enforcement personnel and first responders as appropriate.

The release also details that for offices and workplaces to stay open, employees should practice good hygiene and should try to work from home when they can to limit exposure to the virus.

 “The more that people reduce their public contact, the sooner COVID-19 will be contained and the sooner this executive order will expire,” the release states.

As of March 19 at noon, the Texas Tribune reports that there were at least 161 coronavirus cases in Texas, 3 reported deaths and at least 2,335 people have been tested. There were no positive cases in Odessa or Midland, but on Thursday afternoon,  there was a reported confirmed case of coronavirus in Crane County.

The Texas Tribune contributed to this report.

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