Gov. Abbott Announces State of Disaster, Urges Texans Not to Hoard
Governor says more facilities will have testing capabilities soon
By Margaret Nicklas,
3:48PM, Fri. Mar. 13, 2020
Flanked by Texas State Department of Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt and Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd, Gov. Greg Abbott today tried to reassure Texans about the current health crisis spurred by coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.
Abbott announced he was declaring a State of Disaster in all Texas counties, which he said would allow the state more flexibility to meet anticipated needs as the outbreak progresses. The declaration would allow for movement of resources, personnel, and even items obtained from the Strategic National Stockpile as needed, Abbott said. He also announced that visitation would be restricted at nursing homes, state-supported living centers, hospitals, daycare facilities, prisons, jails, and juvenile justice facilities in an effort to protect these populations, and that permitted visitors would have to go through a screening process.
Regarding testing, which has been a sore subject here and nationally, Abbott said state public labs can currently test 270 per day and that more private labs “are coming on line.” He touted a drive-through testing facility that he said just opened in San Antonio, and said that Dallas, Houston, and Austin might soon have similar facilities as well. A City of Austin Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management spokesperson did not have additional details on when or how drive-through labs might work.
Abbott urged people not to stockpile supplies, saying that “hoarding was neither necessary nor productive.” The state is pursuing ways to allow districts to provide food to students should schools be shut down due to the coronavirus. Many students rely on school lunch programs.
In other news, Austin/Travis County has a third presumed positive case of COVID-19. Earlier today, University of Texas president Gregory Fenves shared publicly that his wife has tested positive for the illness, and another family member is likely infected as well. Fenves said all three are in self-isolation and that Austin Public Health will be following up with all individuals they recently came into close contact with. Meanwhile, the case count is up to 39 for the entire state of Texas as of today (not including President Fenves’ wife), and three more counties (Bell, Travis, and Smith) have joined that list. There are currently no known fatalities in Texas from COVID-19.
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