Gov. Greg Abbott announces additional COVID-19 care site in Dallas, 2 executive orders (copy)

Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference March 18 at Arlington's Office of Emergency Management. Abbott announced additional COVID-19 care site in Dallas. 

Gov. Greg Abbott issued three executive orders outlining how to reopen the Texas economy while using the safest standards to contain COVID-19 on Friday.

Moving forward, Abbott said decisions must be guided by data and doctors. Health and safety need to be put first, continuing to protect vulnerable populations.

The first executive order establishes a statewide strikeforce to reopen Texas. The strikeforce consists of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen, Attorney General Ken Paxton and Comptroller Glenn Hegar along with nationally recognized medical advisers.

Input from medical professionals, businesses and community leaders will be used to ensure a safe way to reopen business in Texas without spurring the spread of COVID-19.

The second executive order focuses on medical professionals who have had to postpone nonessential medical procedures. Because hospitals have plenty of hospital capacity and a solid supply of personal protective equipment, this order loosens current restrictions on nonessential surgeries.

The order also allows doctors to diagnose and treat medical conditions without needing to get an exception. This would include procedures such as diagnostic tests for suspected cancer.

Opening Texas must happen in stages, Abbott said. Fully open businesses with a lack of social distancing standards would be more likely to set the state back rather than propel it forward.

The last executive order allows all stores in Texas to operate with a “retail to-go” method starting April 24. This model allows retailers to sell products without customers coming into stores, utilizing curbside pick-up and delivery models.

This temporary plan allows access to retailers while minimizing contact with others, Abbott said.

State parks will be reopened Monday. Visitors must wear face coverings or masks to reduce possible COVID-19 spread.

All schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. Teachers will be allowed in classrooms for video instruction, administration duties and to clean the rooms.

Additional openings will be announced April 27 after further input from advisers and medical staff. More openings will be announced in May once it is determined that infection rates continue to decline, Abbott said.

Abbott said this strategic approach is required to ensure Texas can reopen while avoiding another shutdown.


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