Updates from TCEP Lobbyists: Imperium Public Affairs

Texas - State Response to COVID-19


April 13, 2020

Governor Abbott held a press conference to announce a new small business initiative in Texas, he was joined by Janie Barrera, president and CEO of LiftFund, and John Waldron, president and COO of Goldman Sachs.

  • Goldman Sachs announced $50 million in small business loans for Texans.
  • $25 million of that is partnership between LiftFund and Goldman Sachs.
  • These loans, made through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), will primarily be used for payroll so that employees can continue to receive paychecks and small businesses can retain their employees and will be partially or wholly forgiven.

Timeline for reopening economy: Governor said later this week he'll introduce a "comprehensive team" and executive order on the process for reopening Texas businesses. He said it would not be a "rush the gates" open-all-at-once-situation.  He did state that testing is a component for kickstarting the economy.

Texas Schools: When asked, the Governor said there would be an announcement regarding Texas schools and the school year later this week.

Statistics as of Today:

  • Tests administered:      133,226
  • Positive Tests:              13,906
  • Hospitalizations:           1,176
  • Deaths:                         287
  • Patients Recovered:     2,269

Hospital Capacity:

  • Total Hospital beds: 47,653
  • Total beds available:    20,932
  • ICU Beds available:       2,265
  • Ventilators available: 6,731

PPE distribution at the end of last week:

  • 4M+ masks
  • 2.5M+ gloves
  • 179K face shields
  • 11K gowns and coveralls


April 12, 2020

Governor Abbott issued a proclamation extending his Disaster Declaration for all Texas counties in response to COVID-19. Originally issued on March 13th, the Disaster Declaration provides the state a number of resources to effectively serve Texans as the Lone Star State continues to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

  • § Disaster Declarations typically last for 30-days.


April 11, 2020

Governor Abbott has waived certain regulations related to restrictions on physicians-in-training (PIT) permit holders in order to increase health care capacity through the state's response to COVID-19. With these waivers, Texas hospitals and facilities associated with Graduate Medical Education (GME) training programs will be able to utilize PIT permit holders, with proper physician oversight, in areas outside of their GME training program. For example, under these temporary waivers, residents in a surgery residency program can assist in an Emergency Department if a surge of patients is experienced.   


April 10, 2020

Governor Abbott will hold a press conference to provide an update on the state's continued response to COVID-19 on Friday, April 10th at 2:00 PM in the auditorium of the State Capitol. The Governor will be joined by Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) Chief Nim Kidd, and Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs of the University of Texas (UT) System John Zerwas, MD.


April 9, 2020

Statistics as of Today:

  • § Tests administered:             106,134
  • § Positive Tests:                     10,230
  • § Hospitalizations:                 1,439
  • § Deaths:                                199
  • § Total hospital beds:            50,396
  • § Total beds available:           20,488
  • § ICU beds available:            2,248
  • § Ventilators available:          6,321

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has adopted an emergency rule to temporarily allow more nurse aides to serve residents in long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 response. The emergency rule temporarily allows nursing facilities to hire people to provide nurse aide services without having to complete a full certification program in their first four months of employment. This action will expand the eligible pool of direct care workers and help long-term care providers who may face critical staffing shortages. More info here.

Governor Abbott has temporarily waived a series of regulations to lift certain telehealth restrictions and expand telehealth options as Texas responds to COVID-19. These waivers will allow a smart phone or any audio-visual, real-time, or two-way interactive communication system to qualify as a telecommunications technology that can be used to provide certain telehealth services. These waivers apply to speech-language pathologists and audiologists, behavior analysts, hearing instrument fitters and dispensers, and dyslexia therapists and practitioners.


April 8, 2020

Press Conference: Governor Abbott provided an update on the state's response to COVID-19 from the auditorium of the State Capitol. The press conference was primarily an update on the state’s increasing testing capacity, the PPE situation, and the sufficient hospital capacity to meet any surge. The Governor did say that the number of cases and hospitalizations in Harris County is increasing rapidly and that he has had discussions with Vice President Mike Pence regarding a coordinated response. 

"It's [Covid-19] still spreading," Dr Hellerstedt of DSHS said. But it won't accelerate as fast as it could if we follow the guidelines. Today, it takes twice as long for the number of cases of COVID-19 to double than it did two weeks ago.  The Governor and Dr. Hellerstedt were both asked when will Texas hit the peak. Neither would give a definitive date or time frame saying that it was too early to tell based on the available data.

Governor Abbott also announced that he has placed numerous resources on standby across the state in anticipation of severe weather expected to impact Central Texas on Wednesday.

Statistics as of Today:

  • Tests administered: 96,258
  • Positive Tests: 9,107
  • Hospitalizations: 1,491
  • Deaths: 175

Hospital Capacity:

  • Total beds available: 21,066
  • ICU Beds available: 2,225
  • Ventilators available: 7,686

 PPE Update

  • The Governor announced a new partnership between the Texas Military Department (TMD) and Prestige Ameritech to increase the production of face masks for health care workers. Prestige Ameritech's 24-hour operation at their headquarters near Fort Worth will be staffed in part by members of the Texas National Guard 36th Infantry Division and will produce 2 million masks per week.

Governor Abbott announced that his Public Safety Office (PSO) will provide a one-time emergency waiver of the federally required cash or in-kind match contribution required for the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and STOP Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grant funds. This waiver follows an unprecedented match waiver process recently initiated for states by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office for Victims of Crime and Office on Violence Against Women. This waiver will provide financial relief to 600 grant recipient organizations in Texas who are federally required to contribute up to 25% of their own funds or donated services towards a project in order to remain eligible for continued grant funding.

Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) will provide more than $168 million in emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits to help Texans during the COVID-19 response. HHS received federal approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide the maximum, allowable amount of SNAP benefits to recipients based on family size. The emergency allotments are currently authorized for the months of April and May and will affect all SNAP recipients in the state of Texas.

Governor Abbott suspended certain statutes concerning appearance before a notary public to execute a self-proved will, a durable power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, a directive to physician, or an oath of an executor, administrator, or guardian. These suspensions temporarily allow for appearance before a notary public via videoconference when executing such documents, avoiding the need for in-person contact during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following conditions will apply whenever this suspension is invoked:

  • § A notary public shall verify the identity of a person signing a document at the time the signature is taken by using two-way video and audio conference technology.
  • § A notary public may verify identity by personal knowledge of the signing person, or by analysis based on the signing person’s remote presentation of a government-issued identification credential, including a passport or driver’s license, that contains the signature and a photograph of the person.
  • § The signing person shall transmit by fax or electronic means a legible copy of the signed document to the notary public, who may notarize the transmitted copy and then transmit the notarized copy back to the signing person by fax or electronic means, at which point the notarization is valid.


April 6, 2020

Press Conference: Governor Abbott provided an update on COVID-19 at the Texas Department of Public Safety warehouse facility in Austin. The Governor was joined by Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd, and Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs of the University of Texas System John Zerwas, MD.


  • § Texas received 2.5 million masks in the past 24 hours and will receive an additional 3 million masks by April 11th.
  • § The Department of Public Safety has now altered that policy to increase enforcement by establishing checkpoints from all border crossings from Louisiana into the state of Texas.
  • § Texas City nursing home where about 30 patients have tested positive for COVID-19 and a number of patients are being tested with hydroxychloroquine and are in second day of treatment.
  • § Prioritizing personal protective equipment (PPE) to include “hospitals or health care professionals in contact with or treating confirmed COVID patients with potential for high loss of life.”
    • § The presentation is available here.

Governor Abbott announced that Care.com is increasing in-home child care access for frontline workers responding to the COVID-19 emergency. As part of this initiative, Care.com is offering 90 days of free, premium access to their services, along with specific portals for frontline workers and caregivers in Texas.

  • § Frontline workers looking for child care as well as prospective caregivers can both enroll at https://texasfrontline.care.com/. Potential caregivers are subject to Care.com’s extensive background and safety checks. While child care services are not typically free of charge, the Texas portal gives residents the ability to waive their fees and volunteer as caregivers, providing additional support to frontline workers. 

April 3, 2020

Governor Greg Abbott will provide an update on the state's COVID-19 hospital capacity at 2:30 PM in the State Capitol. The Governor will be joined by Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd, and Dr. John Zerwas.


April 2, 2020

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced that his agency is automatically extending the due date for 2020 franchise tax reports to July 15 to be consistent with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The due date extension applies to all franchise taxpayers. It is automatic, and taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms. More info here

Franchise taxpayers who need an extension beyond the July 15 date have these options:

  • § Non-electronic funds transfer (non-EFT) taxpayers who cannot file by July 15 may file an extension request on or before July 15 and must pay 90 percent of the tax due for the current year, or 100 percent of the tax reported as due for the prior year with the extension request. Non-EFT taxpayers who request an extension have until Jan. 15 to file their report and pay the remainder of the tax due.
  • § On or before July 15, taxpayers who are mandatory EFT payers may request an extension of time to file to Aug. 15 and must pay 90 percent of the tax due for the current year or 100 percent of the tax reported as due for the prior year with the extension request. On or before Aug. 15, EFT taxpayers may request a second extension of time to file their report and must pay the remainder of any tax due with their extension request. The Aug. 15 extension request extends the report due date to Jan. 15. Any payments made after Aug. 15 will be subject to penalty and interest.

Governor Abbott suspended regulations to increase the amount of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) workers and first responders in Texas during the state's response to COVID-19. Under the Governor's direction, local medical directors for licensed EMS providers can permit individuals who are qualified, though not formally certified, to provide critical emergency response services for patients treated and transported by the EMS provider.

  • § The Governor has suspended certain skills testing requirements for EMS personnel in Texas and for out-of-state Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians seeking reciprocity in Texas so that these individuals who are qualified, but currently unable to take the skills test, are able to provide essential EMS services.
  • § Additionally, he has suspended regulations to allow first responder organizations to delay submission on their renewal application and completion requirements for licensure.

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development has posted updates regarding the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and related assistance regarding COVID-19 for small businesses.

  • § The CARES Act was passed by Congress on March 27, 2020. The programs and initiatives in the Act are intended to assist business owners and nonprofits with current needs due to the COVID-19 crisis. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Department of Treasury announced a robust mobilization effort of banks and other lending institutions to provide small businesses with the capital they need.
  • § The Treasury and SBA expect to have this program up and running by April 3, 2020, so that businesses can contact a participating SBA 7(a) lender, bank, or credit union, apply for a loan, and be approved on the same day.
  • § For a comprehensive guide on most of the small business provisions and programs included in the CARES Act, download the Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act.
  • § The CARES Act established a $349 billion SBA-backed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to provide immediate access to capital for small businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19. Loans will be available through more than 135 existing SBA-certified lenders in Texas, including banks, credit unions and other financial institutions.
  • § Due to the CARES Act, small businesses and non-profits can get up to a $10,000 advance on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) even if a previous application was declined or still pending. For more information, visit the SBA’s website and apply for the loan advance here.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said state sales tax revenue totaled $2.69 billion in March, 2.9 percent more than in March 2019. “The modest growth in state sales tax revenue was led by collections from the retail trade sector, while collections from oil- and gas-related sectors declined from a year ago,” Hegar said. “While some businesses may have begun to experience slowing traffic in late February, formal social distancing measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic were not adopted until well into March, and the impact of those measures would not be reflected in this month’s sales tax collections based on February sales.” Sales tax is the largest source of state funding for the state budget, accounting for 57 percent of all tax collections.

  • § The majority of March sales tax revenue is based on sales made in February and remitted to the agency in March. Total sales tax revenue in fiscal year 2020 through March 2020 was up 5 percent compared to the same period a year ago.
  • § The Comptroller expects sales tax revenue will be drastically affected because much of the economy has been shut down to combat the coronavirus pandemic and because of the negative impact of a global oil price war.

The Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) will hold a public meeting this month to consider using its authority to implement statewide oil production cuts at a time when crude prices are at 20-year lows. The RRC will hold a virtual hearing on the topic at 9:30 a.m. April 14. The meeting will be simulcast on the Railroad Commission website. More info here

  • § Written comments must be submitted by 5 PM on Wednesday, April 8.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has prepared regulatory guidance and is taking steps to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on their staff and customers. The agency is staffing a skeleton crew and has instituted teleworking through Monday, May 4, for those functions that can be performed at home. For more info visit TCEQ’s COVID-19 webpage.


April 1, 2020

Governor Abbott released a video with a statewide to message to all Texans as his Executive Order goes into effect on April 2 requiring all Texans to stay home unless they are participating in an essential service or activity. Link Below:


Governor Abbott and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) have taken initial action to provide tenant-based rental assistance for Texans experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.

  • § The Governor has waived statutes relating to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) HOME Investments Partnership program which would allow Texas greater flexibility to use program funds to help certain Texans pay their rent.
  • § TDHCA has sent a letter to HUD requesting federal waivers to allow greater flexibility to Texas to reprogram these funds for that purpose.

The Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Governor released joint guidance responding to frequently asked questions by members of the faith community and is the official guidance regarding the effect of Executive Order GA 14 on religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship.

  • § Under the Governor’s Executive Order GA 14, houses of worship should conduct remote audio, video, or teleconference activities whenever possible. However, GA-14 defines essential services to include “religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship.”

March 31, 2020

  • § Governor Abbott held a press conference regarding the state's continued response to COVID-19 at 2:00PM at the State Capitol. He issued an Executive Order (GA-14) implementing Essential Services and Activities Protocols for the entire state of Texas. This order follows the decision by President Trump and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to enhance social distancing guidelines and extend the deadline for these guidelines to April 30th. 

This executive order shall supersede any conflicting order issued by local officials in response to the COVD-19 disaster, but only to the extent that such a local order restricts essential services allowed by this executive order or allows gatherings prohibited by this executive order. 

The protocols:

  • § direct all Texans to minimize non-essential gatherings and in-person contact with people who are not in the same household;
  • § renew and amend the previous order enforcing federal social distancing guidelines for COVID-19, including closing schools (until May 4) and instructing Texans to avoid eating or drinking at bars and restaurants; and
  • § allow exceptions for essential activities and services based on the Department of Homeland Security’s guidelines on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce. More info on essential services at http://tdem.texas.gov/essentialservices/.

For the purposes of Texas Executive Order GA-14 the following are considered “Essential Services”:


  • § CISA Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Sectors:
    • § ENERGY
    • § CHEMICAL
    • § Religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship.
    • § Other services as approved by the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM).
  • § Governor Abbott announced the Comfort Food Care Package (CFCP) program to provide meals for at-risk youth and families in communities across Texas as the state responds to COVID-19. As part of the program, participating restaurants offer CFCPs  for patrons to purchase on behalf of families and youth in need. Each care package contains enough food to feed a family of 5 to 6 and will be delivered to recipients’ homes.
    • § The program is a partnership between the Governor's Public Safety Office, the Texas network of Family and Youth Success Programs (formerly called Services to At-Risk Youth), Favor Delivery, and the Texas Restaurant Association.

March 30, 2020

The Center for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS) has approved the Section 1135 Medicaid Waiver submitted by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) on March 25, 2020. Flexiblities granted under this waiver include:

  • § Extension of prior authorizations: For enrollees who have an existing prior authorization, CMS approves the state extending a prior authorization approved on or after March 1.
  • § Suspension of Level 1 and Level II PASRR assessments: All new nursing facility admissions may be treated as an exempted hospital discharge for 30 days. After 30 days, new admissions with a mental illness or intellectual disability should be reviewed as soon as resources are available.
    • § Fair hearing and appeals: CMS approves the extension of fair hearings up to 120 days (from 90 days) and Texas may choose to allow up 90 days for an enrollee to file an appeal.
    • Provider enrollment:
      • § Texas may reimburse an out-of-state provider if: the service is provided out-of-state, the provider has an NPI on the claim, and the provider is enrolled in Medicare or another state’s Medicaid program.
      • § Texas may provisionally/temporarily enroll an out-of-state provider not enrolled in Medicare or another state’s Medicaid program and waive the application fee, fingerprint criminal background check, site visit, and in-state license requirement.
        • § Texas must collect information necessary to process claims, screen for state licensure in other states and screen against the OIG exclusion list. Texas must not issue temporary enrollments after the end of the public health emergency, not allow retroactive effective dates earlier than March 1, and  Texas must cease payments to temporarily enrolled providers within 6 months of the end of the public health emergency (unless the provider competes a Texas Medicaid enrollment).
      • § Texas is granted a waiver to temporarily cease provider revalidation.
      • § CMS grants the above flexibilities for CHIP.
  • Public notice: CMS grants Texas a waiver of public notice requirements

Governor Abbott has waived certain statutory provisions to ensure public safety employees who contract COVID-19 during the course of their employment will be reimbursed for reasonable medical expenses related to their treatment of COVID-19. Because the nature of their duties has caused them to increase their risk of contracting COVID-19, the Governor has waived these statutory provisions so that public safety employees who contract COVID-19 are not also financially penalized. More info here.   

March 29, 2020

Governor Abbott provided an update on the COVID-19 response on Sunday, March 29th at 2:00PM at the State Capitol. He provided new information on the state’s health care capacity and issued additional Executive Orders.

New Executive Orders:

  • § Executive Order (GA-12), the Governor mandated a 14-day quarantine for road travelers arriving in Texas from any location in Louisiana. The self-quarantine procedure will mirror the process outlined in the Governor's previous Executive Order requiring mandatory self-quarantine for air travelers from the New York Tri-State Area and New Orleans, Louisiana.
    • § The Governor also issued a proclamation regarding his prior Executive Order mandating a self-quarantine for individuals arriving from the New York Tri-State Area and New Orleans, Louisiana. The Executive Order now includes air travelers arriving from the following states and cities:
      • California
      • § Louisiana
      • Washington
      • § Atlanta, Georgia
      • Chicago, Illinois
      • § Detroit, Michigan
      • § Miami, Florida
        • § This mandated quarantine will not apply to travel related to commercial activity, military service, emergency response, health response, or critical infrastructure functions.

Executive Order (GA-13), the Governor prohibited the release of individuals in custody for or with a history of offenses involving physical violence or the threat of physical violence. This Executive Order comes in response to concerns of the release or anticipated release of individuals because of COVID-19 who are deemed a danger to society.

Texas, the Texas Military Department (TMD), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) are conducting a joint effort to identify and equip additional locations to serve as health care facilities in the event that hospital capacity is exhausted. The first of these sites will be the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas.

  • § The Governor announced that hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients have doubled over the past week.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has submitted a Section 1135 waiver to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requesting flexibility in administering Medicaid to mitigate potential health care workforce shortages during the COVID-19 outbreak. More info here.  

March 28, 2020

Governor Abbott waived certain licensing renewal regulations for Texas pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy technician trainees. With these waivers, the Governor is temporarily extending expiration dates for licenses and temporarily suspending continuing education requirements for pharmacists. More info here.

Governor Abbott waived certain regulations allowing for an expedited licensing reactivation process for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) in Texas. Under these waivers, an APRN with a license that has been inactive for more than two years, but less than four years, will not have to pay a reactivation fee, complete continuing education credits, or complete the current practice requirements. For APRNs with a license that has been inactive for more than four years, the reactivation fee and continuing education requirements will be waived. More info here.


March 24, 2020

Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference at the Department of Public Safety (DPS) warehouse in East Austin where he said 65 Texas counties have been impacted by the new coronavirus. There have been 11 deaths and 715 positive tests. The governor announced the following related to accelerating the purchasing and delivery of essential personal protection equipment (PPE) and other supplies:

A new executive order that requires hospitals to submit daily reports on bed capacity and COVID-19 tests.

The newly established Supply Chain Strike Force has already secured more than $83 million of purchase orders for essential supplies. Additionally, the Governor announced that the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) will begin receiving 100,000 masks per day by the end of this week and the Supply Chain Strike Force will begin receiving an additional 100,000 masks per day by the end of next week—meaning the State of Texas will soon be receiving more than one million masks per week.

The Governor also announced the launch of an online portal run by the Supply Chain Strike Force to streamline the process and validation of leads for more supplies. The portal, accessible through www.texas.gov, will serve as an intake process for those wanting to provide valid leads on PPE and donations. The portal also serves as a portal for those wanting to donate supplies, services, or your time—including medical professionals and nurses looking to volunteer.

Governor Greg Abbott has directed the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to issue guidance allowing restaurants to sell bulk retail products from restaurant supply chain distributors directly to consumers provided that such foods are in their original condition, packaging, or presented as received by the restaurant. Under this guidance, restaurants will be able to sell items like packaged meat, fruit and vegetables, and dry goods directly to the public to prepare and consume at home. More info here.

This guidance will allow distributors and restaurants to provide Texans another source of food outside of grocery stores and prepared food from restaurants. These bulk food items would be available for purchase through restaurants offering drive-thru, delivery, pick-up, and curbside service.

Governor Greg Abbott approved waiving certain licensing requirements for insurance agents and adjusters at the request of the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI). These measures will ensure services remain available during the state’s response to coronavirus COVID-19. More info and TDI’s FAQ document here.

March 23, 2020

Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to President Trump requesting a presidential declaration of a major disaster in Texas. The request was filed in accordance with the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. In his letter, the Governor specifically requested Individual Assistance Crisis Counseling and Public Assistance Category B (Emergency Protective Measures) including Direct Federal Assistance for all 254 counties in Texas.

To date, more than 466 Texas jurisdictions have submitted local disaster declarations, a number that is expected to rise.

The requested federal aid would be used to overcome the current shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), needed medical equipment and testing supplies as well as looming shortages of hospital beds, medical equipment, and a healthy and adequate cadre of medical personnel.

The letter designated Chief Nim Kidd as the Governor’s Authorized Representative and State Coordinating Officer, tasked with continuing his coordination with FEMA on all matters related to COVID-19.

Texas has received $36.9 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of the state's initial allotment of funding from the first emergency coronavirus bill passed by Congress. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will distribute $19.5 million to 43 local health departments to aid in their COVID-19 response. This includes $1.75 million for Dallas County, Tarrant County, and the San Antonio Metro Health District where operations have been impacted by federal activities. The remaining funds will be used by DSHS to support operations in areas of the state not covered by local health departments and for statewide response activities. More info here.


The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) issued a bulletin to help consumers and the insurance industry during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The City of Waco issued a shelter in place order. It is the first city in Texas to do so.

Hidalgo County has ordered an emergency stay-at-home curfew between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. The curfew does not apply to essential employees.  The order will continue until 11:59 p.m. April 5, with the possibility of being extended.

March 22, 2020

The Governor did not issue a statewide shelter in place order. What may suit one area of Texas may not be needed elsewhere, he said. Local officials are free to adopt more aggressive measures and he welcomes their doing it, he said.

Governor Greg Abbott signed an Executive Order to expand hospital bed capacity as the state responds to the COVID-19 virus. Under this order, the Governor directed all licensed health care professionals and facilities to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician.

It does not apply to any procedure that, if performed in accordance with the commonly accepted standard of clinical practice, would not deplete the hospital capacity or the personal protective equipment needed to cope with the COVID-19 disaster.

The Governor's Executive Order took effect immediately, and remains in effect and in full force until 11:59 p.m. on April 21, 2020, unless it is modified, amended, rescinded, or superseded by the Governor.

The Governor suspended certain regulations as requested by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to allow for increased occupancy of hospital rooms — meaning hospitals will be able to treat more than one patient in a patient room, thus increasing their ability to care for the growing number of COVID-19 patients.

The Governor announced the creation of a temporary Supply Chain Strike Force — immediately naming Keith Miears, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Procurement at Dell Technologies, to serve as Supply Chain Director for the state of Texas. Miears will be supported by former State Representative John Zerwas, MD, who will assist with hospital relations and preparedness, Clint Harp, Vice President of Transmission Strategic Services for the Lower Colorado River Authority, who will assist with asset research and procurement, and Elaine Mendoza, Chair of the A&M Board of Regents, who will assist with statewide child care infrastructure for critical workers.

They are tasked with guiding collaboration between the public and private sectors to ensure health care facilities have the supplies and resources they need to respond to COVID-19. In addition to working with the federal government and businesses to secure necessary personal protective equipment, the team will work to ensure day-to-day resources (including food) are available for Texas’ medical personnel, first responders and those who have contracted COVID-19.

March 21, 2020

Governor Greg Abbott waived several regulations to help meet Texas’ growing need for nurses as the state responds to the COVID-19 virus. The Governor’s actions will expand Texas’ active nursing workforce by doing the following:

Allowing temporary permit extensions to practice for graduate nurses and graduate vocational nurses who have yet to take the licensing exam.

Allowing students in their final year of nursing school to meet their clinical objectives by exceeding the 50% limit on simulated experiences.

Allowing nurses with inactive licenses or retired nurses to reactivate their licenses.

March 19, 2020

Governor Abbott issued an executive order (EO) that will temporarily close schools and gyms, limit social gatherings to 10 or less, closes bars and restaurants for everything except take-out/delivery, and restricts visitors to nursing homes to only those called to provide critical assistance. This EO conforms to the current CDC guidance, takes effect midnight Friday, March 20, and ends midnight Friday, April 3. More info here.

Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner John Hellerstedt issues a public health disaster declaration in Texas. This is the first time this type of declaration has been issued in Texas since 1901. More info here.

Under Chapter 81 of the Health and Safety Code, Commissioner Hellerstedt's Public Health Disaster Declaration triggers a number of important tools for state and local officials to respond to COVID-19:

-Texas and local health authorities can more easily require property owners to disinfect, decontaminate, and seal off property that might be contaminated.

-It authorizes health authorities to take additional control measures that they see fit to control and eradicate the threat to public health.

-It streamlines the process for state and local health authorities to invoke the courts to enforce quarantines of individuals.

-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.


Michael Grimes
Imperium Public Affairs