Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statewide emergency declaration Friday concerning the coronavirus.
The order, which extends to all 254 Texas counties, grants the governor additional powers over state agencies, boards and commissions, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
“To ensure that the state of Texas and our cities and counties are fully capable to prepare and respond to COVID-19, I am at this moment declaring a state disaster for all counties in the state of Texas,” Governor Abbott stated.
The order, currently set to last 30 days, mandates day cares, elderly care facilities and prisons limit visitations as the state attempts to contain the virus.
“We want to make sure that we do all that we can to prevent this vulnerable senior population or others in hospitals from contracting COVID-19,” Abbott stated.
The governor is also expected later Friday to ask state agencies to direct employees capable of working remotely to do so.
Rather than ban large public gatherings, Gov. Abbott merely discouraged them while the state works to mitigate the virus, and also reassured Texans stockpiling supplies is not necessary.
The governor also indicated more coronavirus testing locations would soon be opened, including a drive thru facility in San Antonio which “will initially prioritize health care workers and high-risk patients,” reports The Texas Tribune, with Austin, Dallas and Houston soon to follow.
“Abbott said there are 39 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, not including people being quarantined at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio,” The Statesman reports.
Additionally, the declaration gives Abbott the power to “target specific areas if needed, speed the machinery of government and begin collecting state and local governments’ costs for possible federal reimbursement,” according to The Dallas Morning News.
The order precedes a national emergency declaration expected to be announced by President Trump later Friday.
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