Governor’s Executive Order


For Immediate Distribution  |  June 29, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott, HHSC Extend Deadline For Pandemic Food Benefits For Families Affected By COVID-19 School Closures
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is extending the application deadline for the federal Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer program (P-EBT) to July 31. Extending the deadline will help ensure eligible families have time to apply for this one-time food benefit. P-EBT is a one-time benefit of $285 per eligible child and can be used in the same way as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits to pay for groceries. Eligible families include those with children who lost access to free or reduced-price school meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) due to school closures.  “The extension of the P-EBT deadline helps ensure that Texans have time to apply for this program and provide nutritious food to their families as the state continues to combat COVID-19,” said Governor Abbott. “Ensuring access to healthy food in our communities is an important part of our response to this pandemic.” “We remain committed to ensuring access to healthy and nutritious foods for eligible Texans, and P-EBT provides that to those who need it most,” said HHS Access and Eligibility Deputy Executive Commissioner Wayne Salter. “This extension provides more time for families to apply for this emergency assistance.” More than three million children in Texas were certified to receive free or reduced-price meals at school during the 2019-2020 school year. Families who are eligible for P-EBT were notified by their school districts in May. After completing the online application, families receive their benefits on a new Texas P-EBT card in the mail. HHSC partnered with the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Texas Education Agency to launch the $1 billion federal program on June 1 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, nearly $700 million in P-EBT has been issued to families, benefiting more than 2.5 million children. Visit hhs.texas.gov/pebt to learn more about P-EBT. For questions regarding eligibility or to learn more, people may also contact the P-EBT Call Center at 833-613-6220, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central Standard Time. When applying, it is especially important to include a valid phone number on their application. HHSC staff may need to call families to get additional information to approve P-EBT benefits. About the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program SNAP provides nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of families in need, so they can purchase healthy food and move toward self-sufficiency. In Texas, SNAP benefits are put onto the Lone Star Card (EBT card), which can be used just like a credit card at any store that accepts SNAP. Texas Health and Human Services administers the federal program throughout the state. P-EBT follows the same program rules as SNAP, including foods and purchase options. About the School Meal Programs The federally funded School Meal Programs include the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and NSLP. The School Meal Programs serve over 5 million meals a day to Texas children in school and residential child care institutions. The School Meal Programs serve nutritious, low-cost or free meals to students in public and non-profit private schools in Texas. Meals must meet federal nutrition guidelines. The Texas Department of Agriculture administers SBP and NSLP in Texas. 

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For Immediate Distribution  |  June 26, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott Takes Executive Action To Contain Spread Of COVID-19 Limits Certain Businesses And Services With Link To Infections AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today issued an executive order limiting certain businesses and services as part of the state’s effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. This decision comes as the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 and the number of hospitalizations have increased and the positivity rate in Texas increased above 10%, which the Governor previously stated would lead to further preventative action. The targeted, measured directives in the executive order are based on links between certain types of businesses and services and the recent rise in positive cases throughout the state. The order includes the following:All bars and similar establishments that receive more than 51% of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages are required to close at 12:00 PM today. These businesses may remain open for delivery and take-out, including for alcoholic beverages, as authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Restaurants may remain open for dine-in service, but at a capacity not to exceed 50% of total listed indoor occupancy, beginning Monday, June 29, 2020.Rafting and tubing businesses must close.Outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people must be approved by local governments, with certain exceptions. “As I said from the start, if the positivity rate rose above 10%, the State of Texas would take further action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Abbott. “At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars. The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health. We want this to be as limited in duration as possible. However, we can only slow the spread if everyone in Texas does their part. Every Texan has a responsibility to themselves and their loved ones to wear a mask, wash their hands, stay six feet apart from others in public, and stay home if they can. I know that our collective action can lead to a reduction in the spread of COVID-19 because we have done it before, and we will do it again.” View the Governor’s Executive Order.

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For Immediate Distribution  |  June 26, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott Secures Extension Of Federally-Supported COVID-19 Testing Sites In Texas
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the federal government has granted his request to extend operations of Community Based Testing Sites across Texas. The federal government will maintain support for the program while surging resources to Dallas and Houston in order to support testing needs within the community.  “The State of Texas remains unwavering in our efforts to secure access to testing in communities across the state,” said Governor Abbott. “These federally-supported testing sites are a vital component of this commitment. I thank our federal partners for extending these operations in Texas, and for their flexibility in allocating their resources to the communities of Dallas and Houston that are experiencing a high number of COVID-19 cases right now. By continuing to increase testing and remaining vigilant against outbreaks of COVID-19, we will mitigate the spread of this virus and keep our communities safe.”

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For Immediate Distribution  |  June 22, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott Provides Update On COVID-19 Response, Urges Texans To Follow GuidelinesAUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today provided an update on Texas’ continued response to COVID-19. The Governor discussed several steps the state is taking to mitigate the spread of the virus in recent weeks—including increasing enforcement of health and safety regulations, rapidly increasing testing in hot spots, and working with hospitals throughout the state to ensure they have the ability to treat Texans who test positive for COVID-19. The Governor urged Texans and Texas businesses to follow the Minimum Standard Health Protocols established by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as Texas continues to safely and strategically open the economy. “COVID-19 is now spreading at an unacceptable rate in the state of Texas, and it must be corralled,” said Governor Abbott. “We have several strategies to reduce the spread without shutting Texas back down, but it is up to all of us to do our part to protect ourselves and others. We need all Texans to follow the safety protocols developed by our team of medical experts, including staying home if you are sick or at risk, sanitizing your hands, social distancing, and wearing face coverings or masks. COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, but neither has our ability to slow the spread of it. Texans have shown that we don’t have to choose between jobs and health—we can have both. We can protect lives while also restoring livelihoods. Together, we will keep Texans safe and we will keep our state open for business.” Texans should visit open.texas.gov to learn more about the Minimum Standard Health Protocols and how they can help the Lone Star State slow the spread of COVID-19.  photo1(PHOTO: Office Of The Governor, 6/22/20)photo2(PHOTO: Office Of The Governor, 6/22/20)

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New COVID-19 PSA. For Immediate Distribution | June 10, 2020 | (512) 463-1826 Office Of The Governor, Nolan Ryan Release New COVID-19 PSA: “Don’t Be A Knucklehead” AUSTIN – The Office of the Governor and Baseball Hall-Of-Famer, Nolan Ryan today released a new public service announcement (PSA) entitled, “Don’t Be A Knucklehead.” In the PSA, Ryan encourages all Texans to follow effective health and safety protocols like washing their hands, social distancing, and wearing a mask. The video is available for download at this link https://lnks.gd/l/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.eyJidWxsZXRpbl9saW5rX2lkIjoxMDEsInVyaSI6ImJwMjpjbGljayIsImJ1bGxldGluX2lkIjoiMjAyMDA2MTAuMjI3NDI0MTEiLCJ1cmwiOiJodHRwczovL3d3dy5kcm9wYm94LmNvbS9zL3FsNG00OXowOXEwb3MxdC9Ob2xhbiUyMFJ5YW4lMjBQU0EubXA0P2RsPTAifQ.IkLG7wTMMcZ440QRUIfKHVK5W5m4YYHJ5CReqN2KorQ/br/79690256867-l and can also be viewed on YouTube. TRANSCRIPT: Hey everyone, Nolan Ryan here. As we open Texas for business, we all need to work together in the fight against COVID-19. As Texans, we need to be responsible. We need to be smart. So when you leave the house, don’t be a knucklehead. Wash your hands, socially distance yourself from others, and wear a mask. Do the right thing. Look out for your fellow Texans and together we’ll make it through this.

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Governor Abbott Announces Phase III To Open Texas
 
For Immediate Distribution  |  June 3, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott Announces Phase III To Open Texas

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced the third phase of the State of Texas’ plan to safely open the economy while containing the spread of COVID-19. Under Phase III, effective immediately, all businesses in Texas will be able to operate at up to 50% capacity, with very limited exceptions. Business that previously have been able to operate at 100% capacity may continue to do so, and most outdoor areas are not subject to capacity limits. All businesses and customers should continue to follow minimum standard health protocols laid out by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).
 
As with previous phases, the Phase III plan is based on the advice and support of the four doctors on the Strike Force to Open Texas medical team. Via Executive Order, Phase III begins immediately. A breakdown of Phase III can be found below.
 
“The people of Texas continue to prove that we can safely and responsibly open our state for business while containing COVID-19 and keeping our state safe,” said Governor Abbott. “As anticipated, the new positive cases that we are seeing are largely the result of isolated hot spots in nursing homes, jails, and meat packing plants. Thanks to the effectiveness of our Surge Response Teams, we have the ability to contain those hot spots while opening up Texas for business. As we begin Phase III, I ask all Texans and Texas businesses to continue following the standard health protocols and to heed the guidance of our state and federal officials who continue to closely monitor COVID-19. If we remain vigilant, we will continue to mitigate the spread of this virus, protect public health, and get more Texans back to work and their daily activities.”
 
Between May 26th and June 2nd, over 45% of new cases came from jails or prisons, meat packing plants and nursing homes. There are currently 1,487 Texans hospitalized due to COVID-19. There are 20,679 active cases in the state and 45,858 Texans are estimated to have recovered.
 
Effective June 3:
 
All businesses currently operating at 25% capacity can expand their occupancy to 50% with certain exceptions.
 
Bars and similar establishments may increase their capacity to 50% as long as patrons are seated.
 
Amusement parks and carnivals in counties with less than 1,000 confirmed positive cases may open at 50% capacity.
 
Restaurants may expand their maximum table size from 6 to 10 persons. 
 
Effective June 12:
 
Restaurants may expand their occupancy levels to 75%.
 
Counties with 10 or less active COVID-19 cases may expand their occupancy limits to 75%. Counties that fit this category but have not previously filed an attestation with DSHS will need to do so.
 
Effective June 19:
 
Amusement parks and carnivals in counties with more than 1,000 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 may open at 50% capacity.
 
Additional Openings:
 
Special provisions have been made for outdoor gatherings, such as Fourth of July celebrations, but it is imperative that local officials and public health officials collaborate on safe standards. These provisions are included in the Governor’s Executive Order and are also available on the Open Texas webpage.
   
Further Protocols:
 
All businesses should continue to follow the minimum standard health protocols from DSHS. For details and a full list of guidelines, openings, and relevant dates, visit http://open.texas.gov.
 
Reminders for those going out:
Individuals are encouraged to wear appropriate face coverings.
People should not be in groups greater than ten when possible.
People over the age of 65 are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible.
People are still asked to avoid nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, or long-term care facilities.

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For Immediate Distribution  |  May 27, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826 Governor Abbott, HHSC Announce $3.6 Million To Connect Nursing Facility Residents And Families AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) today announced $3.6 million in funding for nursing facilities to purchase tablets, webcams, and headphones to connect residents with their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. Texas is encouraging nursing facility providers to submit applications to HHSC to receive up to $3,000 in federal funding per facility for purchasing communication technology devices. “This program will help Texans in nursing homes stay connected to their loved ones while protecting the health and safety of our most vulnerable populations,” said Governor Abbott. “As we continue to respond to COVID-19 and mitigate the spread of this virus, we are committed to developing effective strategies that protect Texans while keeping them connected.” “Staying connected to families and friends is vitally important to Texans who live in nursing facilities during this unprecedented situation,” said David Kostroun, deputy executive commissioner for HHSC’s Regulatory Services Division. “We want facilities to know this option can help connect residents to their loved ones virtually, while still protecting everyone’s health and safety.” HHSC is allocating Civil Money Penalty (CMP) funds for this project. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) imposes CMP’s against Medicare- or Medicaid-certified nursing facilities found out of compliance with federal requirements. CMP funds can be used for projects and activities that benefit nursing facility residents by improving their quality of care or quality of life. Any Texas nursing facility can apply for this funding. Purchased devices must be cleaned and disinfected between every use by a resident. CMS has established guidelines for facilities on proper use and requirements: https://hhs.texas.gov/doing-business-hhs/provider-portals/long-term-care-providers/nursing-facilities/civil-money-penalty-funds-nf-projects HHSC also has encouraged facilities to implement a communication plan to help families, residents, and others stay informed and connected, noting they are legally obligated to maintain privacy and HIPAA protections. HHSC continues to work closely with long-term care providers statewide and has issued multiple guidance letters, emergency rules and alerts, and rule waivers to give them the flexibility and information they need to protect Texans from COVID-19. Guidance provided by HHSC is posted here, and HHSC also regularly updates its FAQs for nursing facilities. Texas residents can dial 2-1-1 to learn about programs and services.

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For Immediate Distribution  |  May 26, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott Announces Additional Services And Activities That Can Open Under Phase IIAUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today issued a proclamation expanding additional services and activities that can open under Phase II of the state’s plan to safely and strategically open. With this proclamation, water parks, recreational sport programs for adults, driver education programs, and food-court dining areas within shopping malls can begin operations with limited occupancy or regulations to protect the health and safety of Texans. Beginning Friday, May 29th, water parks can open but must limit their occupancy to 25% of normal operating limits. Components of these water parks that have video arcades must remain closed. Starting Sunday, May 31st, recreational sports programs for adults can resume, but games and similar competitions may not begin until June 15th. Driver education programs can resume operations immediately.  Food-court dining areas within shopping malls can also immediately resume operations, but malls are encouraged to designate one or more individuals who are responsible for ensuring health and safety practices are followed, including: limiting tables to six individuals; maintaining a six-feet distance between individuals sitting at different tables; cleaning and disinfecting tables between uses; and ensuring no condiments or other items are left on tables between customer uses.  Minimum standard health protocols outlined by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) are recommended and located on the Open Texas webpageView the Governor’s proclamation.

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For Immediate Distribution  |  May 22, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826 Governor Abbott Releases PSA: “Be A Good Neighbor. Be A Texan.”AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today released a public service announcement (PSA) entitled “Be A Good Neighbor. Be a Texan.” As the Lone Star State begins to open up, the Governor encourages all Texans to do their part to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 by following best practices like social distancing in public, wearing a face covering, and washing hands regularly.  TRANSCRIPT: Texans always get the job done, especially when we work together. As we safely open up our state, we need to unite as one Texas to contain COVID-19 and to get Texans back to work. If you go out in public, stay six feet apart from others, wear a face covering, and wash your hands regularly. Be a good neighbor. Be a Texan. Together, we’re going to make our way through this.

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For Immediate Distribution  |  May 21, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order Terminating Air Travel Restrictions Related To COVID-19 PandemicAUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today issued an Executive Order (GA-24) terminating air travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor’s new order immediately terminates all restrictions contained in the Governor’s previous Executive Order (GA-20) that mandated temporary quarantines for air travelers arriving from the following areas of the United States: California; Connecticut; New York; New Jersey; Washington; Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; or Miami, Florida.  View the Governor’s Executive Order (GA-24) relating to the termination of air travel restrictions as part of the safe, strategic plan to Open Texas in response to the COVID-19 disaster.

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For Immediate Distribution  |  May 21, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott, DPS Announce Limited Reopening Of Driver License OfficesLimited Services By Appointment Only As Part Of Phased Approach AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will begin a phased opening of driver license offices starting May 26th with limited service offerings. As part of this opening plan, DPS will launch a statewide driver license (DL) appointment system that allows customers to book appointments up to six months in advance. The limited services being offered will be by appointment only.  “This phased opening of our driver license offices and the launch of DPS’ online appointment system prioritizes the health and safety of our communities and ensures Texans have access to the services they need at their local driver license offices,” said Governor Abbott. “I thank DPS for developing this safe and strategic plan to open their offices and for launching a new appointment system to streamline our driver license services.” The four-phase plan for the opening of driver license offices is as follows: Phase 1: Offices in DPS’ Northwest and West Texas regions will reopen with limited services beginning May 26, 2020. Customers who currently do not possess a Texas DL, CDL, learner permit or ID card, as well those who are in need of a drive test, can begin scheduling appointments in these two regions on May 22 at 1 p.m.  Phase 2: Offices in DPS’ South and Central Texas regions will reopen with limited services beginning May 29, 2020. Customers who currently do not possess a Texas DL, CDL, learner permit or ID card, as well those who are in need of a drive test, can begin scheduling appointments in these two regions on May 26 at 1 p.m. Phase 3: Offices in DPS’ North and Southeast Texas regions will reopen with limited services beginning June 3, 2020. Customers who currently do not possess a Texas DL, CDL, learner permit or ID card, as well those who are in need of a drive test, can begin scheduling appointments in these two regions on May 29 at 1 p.m. Phase 4 will allow customers to schedule an appointment for all DL office transactions anywhere in the state and is expected to begin midsummer. DPS will announce details on this phase at a later date. Extension for expiration dates will remain in effect until phase 4 is implemented.

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For Immediate Distribution  |  May 19, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826 Governor Abbott Urges Local Governments Against Increasing Property Taxes For Texans Responds To Letter From Members Of Texas Democratic Congressional Delegation  AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today responded to a letter from members of the Texas Democratic Congressional Delegation regarding tax burdens on Texans. In his letter, the Governor voices his support of lessening the tax burden on Texans but clarifies that local governments—not the State of Texas—set the property tax rates. The Governor disagreed with the members’ support of raising taxes in times of economic prosperity. “Property owners shouldn’t be saddled with rising property taxes while dealing with a pandemic,” said Governor Abbott. “As a result, local governments, who set property tax rates, should find ways to reduce the tax burden on Texans. Whether we’re facing times of challenge or times of prosperity—raising taxes on the people of Texas is never the answer.” In his letter, the Governor also urged the members to help pass legislation that protects business owners, healthcare facilities and employees, and first responders from being held liable for COVID-19 exposure claims when they adhere to relevant public health guidelines and make good faith efforts to limit the risk of exposure and infection.  Read the full letter.

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For Immediate Distribution  |  May 18, 2020 |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott Announces Phase Two To Open Texas AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced the second phase of the State of Texas’ ongoing plan to safely and strategically open Texas while minimizing the spread of COVID-19. Under Phase II, restaurants may increase their occupancy to 50% and additional services and activities that remained closed under Phase I may open with restricted occupancy levels and minimum standard health protocols laid out by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). Additionally, the Governor announced that public schools in Texas have the option to provide in-person summer school so long as they follow social distancing practices and health protocols laid out by DSHS. These classes may begin as soon as June 1st. “Today, tomorrow, and every day going forward is one step closer to medical discoveries that can treat and protect people from COVID-19—but until that day comes, our focus is keeping Texans safe while restoring their ability to get back to work, open their businesses, pay their bills, and put food on their tables,” said Governor Abbott. “By continuing to use safe practices, we are slowing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting our most vulnerable. Now more than ever, we need to work together as one Texas. I ask all Texans to continue heeding the guidance of our state and federal medical experts and do their part to protect public health. If we all unite in our resolve, we will overcome this challenge.” Via Executive Order, the following services and activities may open under Phase II.Child Care Centers (May 18)Massage and Personal-Care Centers (May 18)Youth Clubs (May 18)Rodeo and Equestrian Events (May 22)Bowling Alleys, Bingo Halls, Simulcast Racing, and Skating Rinks (May 22)Bars (May 22)Aquariums and Natural Caverns (May 22)Zoos (May 29)Day Youth Camps (May 31)Overnight Youth Camps (May 31)Youth Sports (May 31)Certain professional sports without in-person spectators (May 31) All sporting and camp activities are required to adhere by special safety standards, and minimum standard health protocols have been established for all newly-announced opened services and activities. Businesses located in office buildings may also open but must limit their occupancy to the greater of 10 employees or 25% of their workforce. Additionally, restaurants may expand their occupancy to 50% beginning May 22. Bars—including wine tasting rooms, craft breweries, and similar businesses—may open at 25% occupancy but like restaurants, these occupancy limits do not apply to outdoor areas that maintain safe distancing among parties. Opened services and activities under Phase II are subject to certain occupancy limits and health and safety protocols. For details and a full list of guidelines, openings, and relevant dates, visit www.gov.texas.gov/opentexas. Certain counties experiencing surges in COVID-19 cases will have their beginning date of Phase II delayed until May 29. These counties include El Paso, Randall, Potter, Moore, and Deaf Smith. Surge Response Teams are actively working in these areas to increase testing, maintain hospital capacity, and ensure that COVID-19 is contained and mitigated.
During his remarks, the Governor also presented information on the state’s hospitalization and positivity rates—two metrics the Governor and his team of medical experts have used to inform the state’s ongoing plan to safely and strategically open. Details on these metrics can be found in presentation slides here and here.

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For Immediate Distribution  |  May 14, 2020 |  (512) 463-1826 Governor Abbott, HHSC Announce $3 Million For Family And Domestic Violence Prevention Services AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has received more than $3 million in federal funding to provide shelter and services to survivors of family and domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. This federal funding will support the 78 HHSC-funded local family violence centers that provide survivors with immediate shelter, supportive services, and access to community-based programs. These funds are made available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and will be administered through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families.  “As we respond to COVID-19, the Lone Star State remains committed to supporting survivors of domestic and family violence and keeping Texans safe,” said Governor Abbott. “I thank our federal partners at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for administering this funding to the state of Texas, and I am grateful to the organizations within HHSC’s Family Violence Program that continue to provide Texans with these crucial services.” “The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenging obstacles and uncertainty for many survivors of family violence across the state,” said Dee Budgewater, HHS deputy executive commissioner for Health, Developmental and Independence Services. “This grant is a significant investment that will connect vulnerable Texans to critical services, shelter, and move them toward a life free of violence.” This new funding will provide direct support to 78 HHSC-funded local family violence centers working with survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant will also support a wide range of supportive services that are instrumental in helping survivors become self-sufficient. These services include temporary 24-hour shelter, counseling, mobile advocacy, telehealth, peer support, rental assistance, and relocation expenses. The funding also assists family violence centers to cover the costs of providing remote services to those in need. The HHSC Family Violence Program promotes self-sufficiency, safety and long-term independence of adult and child victims of family violence and victims of teen dating violence. Through a network of service providers, the program provides emergency shelter and supportive services to victims and their children, educates the public and provides training and prevention support to various organizations across Texas. In 2019, 71,637 clients were served through by the Family Violence Program. For more information, visit the Family Violence Program webpage. Texas residents can dial 2-1-1 to learn about HHSC programs and services.

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For Immediate Distribution  |  May 13, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott, Texas National Guard Launch Disinfection Mission For Nursing FacilitiesAUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the Texas National Guard has activated Facilities Disinfection Teams to support Texans in nursing homes and to help limit the spread of COVID-19. These Facilities Disinfection Teams, formed in coordination with Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), provide a major boost to protecting Texans and limiting the spread of COVID-19. Six teams have already been mobilized to facilities across the state with more coming online.   “The Texas National Guard plays a crucial role in our ongoing response to COVID-19, and I am grateful for their work to address the unique challenges our nursing homes face during this pandemic,” said Governor Abbott. “The training these Guardsmen have received will equip them with the knowledge and tools they need to provide this crucial assistance to these facilities.”  “The Texas National Guard readily accepts this newest mission assignment,” said Major General Tracy Norris. “We take our charge of protecting all Texans, especially our most vulnerable populations, extremely seriously. Our service members have proactively trained for this mission alongside the Health and Human Services Commission and other partner agencies. We stand ready to continue to serve both here at home and abroad in the war fight.” These Facilities Disinfection Teams consist of Guardsmen from Joint Task Force 176, and each team is equipped with unique supplies such as advanced personal protective equipment, ionized sprayers, and vital oxide. The teams received training from the Texas Military Department 6th Civil Support Team, who specialize in man-made and natural disaster assessment and rapid response in hazardous environments.   The Texas National Guard is currently supporting the fight against COVID-19 in Texas by providing personal protective equipment manufacturing support, food bank support, mobile COVID-19 testing, and points of distribution for essential items.

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For Immediate Distribution  |  May 11, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, Speaker Bonnen, Senate Finance, House Appropriations Committee Chairs Announce Federal Funding For Local JurisdictionsAUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, Vice Chair Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, and House Appropriations Committee Chair Giovanni Capriglione and Vice Chair Oscar Longoria today sent a letter to city and county leaders announcing $5.06 billion in funding available to local governments in Texas through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Of this $5.06 billion, the U.S. Department of Treasury has directly sent over $3.2 billion to the 6 cities and 12 counties in Texas with a population greater than 500,000. The remaining $1.85 billion will be available to other cities and counties throughout the state. Funding will go towards reimbursement of direct expenses incurred by cities and counties due to COVID-19. The 242 counties, and the cities within those counties, that did not receive direct allocations from the Treasury are eligible to apply to the state for a $55 per capita allocation from the $1.85 billion. Upon execution of a grant agreement, governments will be able to immediately draw down 20% to their allocation. After those jurisdictions provide documentation on the initial funding, they will then be able to access the remainder of their allocation on a reimbursement basis. The unallocated funds will be reserved for local expenses as future outbreaks and the long-term impacts of COVID-19 are better known. In the letter, the leaders encourage cities and counties to work together to address expenses that cross jurisdictional lines. “All Texans expect government to work in a unified fashion to address this unprecedented situation, and we will continue to do so,” reads the letter. “Thank you again for your work on behalf of your residents. These are tremendously difficult times for all Texans. Please know that the elected representatives in your state government are working continuously to protect the health and safety of this state, mitigate the economic ramifications of COVID-19, and build a path towards recovery.” The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) will administer the reimbursement process and will partner with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension to provide individual assistance to each city and county throughout the process. Information on how to apply for funding, as well as guidance about eligible uses, can be found at the following website: www.tdem.texas.gov/crf.  Read the letter to city and county leaders in Texas.

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For Immediate Distribution  |  May 6, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott, OneStar Foundation Announce Texas COVID Relief FundAUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott and the OneStar Foundation today announced the Texas COVID Relief Fund, which will provide critical funding and resources to organizations across the state working on the ground to support the economic recovery of local communities. Funds raised will be distributed through grants focused on the areas of community and economic development, healthcare, and education. Funds will also be used to support local priorities and organizations serving the unmet needs of vulnerable populations and underserved communities. “There is nothing more powerful than Texans helping Texans, and the Texas COVID Relief Fund is another way we can come together to support those in need and help our communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor Abbott. “I thank the OneStar Foundation and their partners for their commitment to helping Texans through these trying times. By coming together and supporting one another, we will overcome this challenge.”  “Communities across Texas are stepping up to meet the needs of everyday Texans in heroic ways,” said Chris Bugbee, President and CEO of OneStar Foundation.  “We are grateful for Governor Abbott’s leadership in providing the Texas COVID Relief Fund as a resource to embolden efforts across the state to meet the needs of our neighbors impacted by the pandemic.” For more information on the Texas COVID Relief Fund or to make a donation, visit the OneStar Foundation website.  OneStar Foundation was created to support the State of Texas by strengthening the nonprofit sector, encouraging civic engagement through service and volunteering, promoting innovative strategies to address local issues and facilitating public-private partnerships to expand the reach of nonprofits. During times of disaster, OneStar Foundation is designated by the Governor to raise and distribute funds to eligible organizations working on the ground to support the economic recovery of Texas communities devastated by disasters. 
For Immediate Distribution  |  May 6, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott, HHSC Announce $5.8 Million For Disaster Crisis Counseling ServicesAUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has received $5.8 million in federal funding to provide crisis counseling services to Texans who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding is provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Immediate Services Crisis Counseling and Training Program.  “I thank our partners at FEMA for providing this important funding to help Texans across the state,” said Governor Abbott. “As Texas continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are working to provide Texans with access to the mental and emotional support resources they need.”    The grant allows 31 local mental health and behavioral health authorities (LMHAs/LBHAs) to connect Texans to short-term crisis counseling services that include reducing stress and providing emotional support, assisting survivors in reviewing their disaster recovery options, promoting the use or development of healthy coping strategies, connecting survivors with appropriate people and agencies that can help them, and referrals to other disaster recovery programs. LMHA/LBHAs also collaborate with schools, shelters, nursing homes, emergency responders, healthcare providers, as well as local, state, and federal partners to reach those in need. Crisis counseling teams will work with individuals, groups, and organizations to provide educational materials, information, crisis counseling services, and referrals to local resources to assist individual needs. The grant is expected to help more than 260,000 people across the state. For additional resources visit the Mental Health & Substance Use Resources web page. Texas residents can dial 2-1-1 to learn about programs and services.

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For Immediate Distribution  |  May 5, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott, HHSC Announce $3 Million Emergency Grant For Aging, Disability ServicesAUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has received approval for a $3 million emergency grant for Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living. ADRCs are a one-stop shop offering resources for older adults, people with disabilities, and caregivers in Texas. “I am grateful for our continued collaboration with our federal partners to expand access to these crucial resources for older adults and Texans with disabilities,” said Governor Abbott. “As we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain committed to ensuring these important aging and disability services are available in communities across the Lone Star State.”  “The clients that Aging and Disability Resource Centers serve are among some of the most vulnerable populations. This emergency grant will ensure they can continue receiving critical services during this time of crisis,” said Wayne Salter, Texas HHS Access and Eligibility Services Deputy Executive Commissioner. “The extra funding will allow ADRCs to support more people as the demand for services increases amid the COVID-19 outbreak.” ADRCs serve as a key point of access to specialized information, referral, and assistance about private and public community-based long-term services and supports options. Some of the services include transportation to medical appointments, meal delivery, help with housework, daily grooming, and respite care for caregivers. HHSC, which administers all 28 ADRCs in Texas, will distribute the grant money to each of them to help provide those services for more people as well as coordinated assessments, care transitions, and social isolation mitigation. ADRCs are located throughout Texas and serve every county in the state. More information about them is available here. Texans can also call 855-YES-ADRC (855-937-2372) to learn about programs and services.

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For Immediate Distribution  |  May 5, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott Expands Business Openings In Texas, Announces Surge Response Teams To Combat COVID-19Issues Guidance For Class of 2020 Graduation Ceremonies  AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today held a press conference where announced that he will be issuing an Executive Order to expand openings of certain businesses and activities. The Governor also announced new guidance from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) on graduation ceremonies and the creation of Surge Response Teams to combat any COVID-19 flare ups in Texas.  “Texas is in a position to continue opening parts of our economy because of the efforts and determination of the people of Texas,” said Governor Abbott. “Over the past month, Texans have worked together to contain the spread of COVID-19 by following social distancing practices and staying at home whenever possible. As we move forward, I urge all Texans to continue following these social distancing guidelines and the health standards we have provided. With every Texan doing their part, we will contain COVID-19, we will unleash our entrepreneurs, and we will make it through this challenge together.” The Governor was joined for the press conference by Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) Chief Nim Kidd, Texas Health and Human Services (HHSC) Acting Executive Commissioner Phil Wilson, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath, and Adjutant General of Texas Maj. Gen. Tracey Norris. Per the Governor’s announcement, wedding venues and services required to conduct weddings may immediately open. Weddings held indoors other than at a church, congregation, or house of worship must limit occupancy to 25%. Wedding reception services may also resume, but facilities must limit their occupancy to 25% of the total listed occupancy. These occupancy limits do not apply to the outdoor areas of a wedding reception or to outdoor wedding receptions. Beginning May 8, cosmetology salons, hair salons, barber shops, nail salons and shops, and other establishments where licensed cosmetologists or barbers practice their trade, may open, but all such salons, shops, and establishments must ensure at least six feet of social distancing between operating work stations. Tanning salons may also reopen under the same limitation. Also starting May 8, swimming pools may open subject to certain limitations, including on their occupancy or operating levels. Beginning May 18, office buildings may open with the greater of five or less individuals or 25% of the total office workforce. These individuals must maintain appropriate social distancing. Gyms, exercise facilities, and exercise classes may also open on May 18, but must operate at 25% occupancy. Locker rooms and shower facilities will remain closed, but restrooms may open. Non-essential manufacturing services may also open on May 18 but facilities must limit their occupancy to 25%. These newly opened services are subject to recommended minimum standard health protocols outlined by DSHS. These protocols will be available on the Open Texas webpage.  During the press conference, Chief Kidd and Commissioner Wilson provided details on the newly formed Surge Response Teams. These teams are led by TDEM and HHSC and include representatives from the the Texas Military Department, DSHS, the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force, and BCFS Health and Human Services. Surge Response Teams will serve nursing homes, prisons, packing pants, and other facilities that experience flare ups of COVID-19 by providing personal protective equipment, testing supplies, onsite staffing, and assessment assistance. These teams will also work with local officials to establish health and social distancing standards to contain these flare ups. Several Surge Response Teams have already been deployed to locations across the state. Chief Kidd and Commissioner Wilson’s presentation is available here.  TEA Commissioner Morath also provided new guidance on class of 2020 graduation ceremonies for Texas school districts. The TEA is providing four different pathways for schools to celebrate their graduating seniors, and each district is at liberty to determine if any of these options best serve the needs and desires of their community:Completely virtual ceremonies that take place entirely online, with the use of videoconference or other technologies.Hybrid ceremonies, which consist of a compilation of videos of students being recognized in person as they celebrate graduation in small groups.Vehicle ceremonies, in which students and their families wait in their cars while other graduates are recognized one at time with their families alongside them.Outdoor in-person ceremonies, which are currently permitted for counties as follows: Between May 15 and May 31, an outdoor ceremony may take place in a rural county that has an attestation as described in the Governor’s Report to Open Texas that remains in effect 7 days prior to the ceremony. An outdoor ceremony may take place in any Texas county on or after June 1.  Full details of the TEA’s graduation ceremony guidance can be found on the TEA website

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For Immediate Distribution  |  April 30, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott Announces New TWC Guidance For Unemployment ClaimantsAUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has issued new guidance to unemployment claimants concerning their eligibility for unemployment benefits should they choose not to return to work at this time due to COVID-19. Under this guidance, Texans can continue to receive unemployment benefits throughout the COVID-19 response if they choose not to return to work for certain reasons as specified by TWC. “As the Lone Star State begins the process of safely and strategically opening the economy, our top priority is protecting the health and safety of all Texans—especially those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19,” said Governor Abbott. “This flexibility in the unemployment benefit process will help ensure that Texans with certain health and safety concerns will not be penalized for choosing not to return to work.” Each unemployment insurance claim is currently evaluated on an individual basis. However, because of the COVID-19 emergency, the following are reasons benefits would be granted if the individual refused suitable work. Reason for refusal:At High Risk: People 65 years or older are at a higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.Household member at high risk: People 65 years or older are at a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.Diagnosed with COVID: The individual has tested positive for COVID-19 by a source authorized by the State of Texas and is not recovered.Family member with COVID: Anybody in the household has tested positive for COVID-19 by a source authorized by the State of Texas and is not recovered and 14 days have not yet passed.Quarantined: Individual is currently in 14-day quarantine due to close contact exposure to COVID-19.Child care: Child’s school or daycare closed and no alternatives are available. Any other situation will be subject to a case by case review by TWC based on individual circumstances.
For Immediate Distribution  |  April 27, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott Announces Phase One To Open Texas, Establishes Statewide Minimum Standard Health ProtocolsCreates Statewide Contact Tracing ProgramIssues Special Guidance For Texans Over 65, Nursing Homes AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced the first phase of the State of Texas’ ongoing plan to safely and strategically open Texas while minimizing the spread of COVID-19. Under Phase I, certain services and activities are allowed to open with limited occupancy, and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is issuing minimum standard health protocols for all businesses and individuals to follow. The Governor also outlined special guidance for Texans over 65 and detailed a comprehensive mitigation plan for nursing homes in Texas. The Governor also announced a statewide testing and tracing program developed by DSHS that will help public health officials quickly identify and test Texans who contract COVID-19 and mitigate further spread of the virus.  The Governor’s announcement is accompanied by Texans Helping Texans: The Governor’s Report to Open Texas. This detailed report, available on the strike force website, helps Texans understand phase one by outlining the new protocols, guidance, and recommendations. The report also includes a series of Open Texas Checklists that outline DSHS’ minimum standard health protocols for all Texans. “This strategic approach to opening the state of Texas prioritizes the health and safety of our communities and follows the guidelines laid out by our team of medical experts,” said Governor Abbott. “Now more than ever, Texans must remain committed to safe distancing practices that reduce the spread of COVID-19, and we must continue to rely on doctors and data to provide us with the safest strategies to restore Texans’ livelihoods. We must also focus on protecting the most vulnerable Texans from exposure to COVID-19. If we remain focused on protecting the lives of our fellow Texans, we can continue to open the Lone Star State.” By way of Executive Order (GA-18), all retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls are permitted to reopen on Friday, May 1. These services must limit their capacity to 25% of their listed occupancy. Within shopping malls, the food-court dining areas, play areas, and interactive displays and settings must remain closed. All museums and libraries may open under the same 25% occupancy limitation, but interactive areas of museums must remain closed. State libraries and museums will open by May 1, and local public museums and libraries may reopen only if permitted by the local government. Single-person offices may reopen as well. Churches and places of worship remain open. Outdoor sports are allowed to resume so long as no more than four participants are playing together at one time. Certain social distancing practices must also be followed. Local government operations, including county and municipal government operations relating to permitting, recordation, and document-filing services, may reopen as determined by the local government. DSHS has recommended minimum standard health protocols for all individuals, all employers and employees, as well as industry-specific protocols for retailersretail customersrestaurantsrestaurant patronsmovie theatersmovie theater customersmuseums and librariesmuseum and library visitorsoutdoor sports participantssingle-person offices, and low COVID-19 counties. These protocols are outlined in the Open Texas Checklists within the Governor’s report beginning on page 20. Essential services such as farmers and ranchers, grocery and drug stores, banks, and gas stations will continue to operate. Public swimming pools, bars, gyms, cosmetology salons, massage establishments, interactive amusement venues, such as bowling alleys and video arcades, and tattoo and piercing studios will remain closed through Phase I. Nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities must remain closed to visitors unless to provide critical assistance. The Governor also established increased occupancy protocols for certain counties with five or fewer laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19. Those counties may, on an individualized basis, increase occupancy limits to up to 50% for restaurants, retail, shopping malls, museums and libraries, and movie theaters if they meet certain criteria. The county judge must certify and affirm to DSHS that the following standards have been investigated and confirmed to be met:The county had five or fewer COVID-19 laboratory confirmed cases on April 30, 2020 or, at a later date, five or fewer active COVID-19 cases as verified by DSHS.The county has created a list of testing opportunities in the county or the area.The county has been in contact with its designated regional advisory council to ensure the community is prepared for any needed health care transfers.The county has provided public notice to the residents of the county, including: Signs and symptoms of COVID-19: Recommended health and safety protocols in line with CDC guidance; Information regarding how residents can get tested in the area; A link to the DSHS website where residents can go to learn about community spread in nearby communities, in order to help county residents understand their risk to exposure if they travel regularly outside of the county.The county has contacted each of the following types of facilities located in the county to ensure they are complying with Texas Health and Human Services (HHSC) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines regarding COVID-19: Nursing homes; Assisted living facilities; Industrial, agricultural, or business facilities with a significant number of employees; and City or county jails.The county is equipped and prepared to protect vulnerable populations, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities.The county has documented procedures to be activated if a resident becomes COVID-19 positive, including procedures to take appropriate measures as necessary in line with the plan to open Texas.The county has contacted DSHS in order to create a plan to ensure contact tracing will occur within 48 hours of a positive test reported to DSHS. Phase I will begin Friday May 1 and continue until at least May 18. The Governor will continue to evaluate next steps for the state. The Governor’s Report to Open Texas also outlines a long-term comprehensive mitigation plan for nursing homes in Texas. Eight recommendations have been developed by HHSC to help mitigate the further spread of COVID-19 and decrease the risk of infection in these facilities. A summary of the recommendations is below, and full recommendations are in the Governor’s report beginning on page 9: Quantify the extent of infection immediatelyEstablish a comprehensive mitigation planRe-evaluate current COVID-19 positive facilitiesAppropriate isolation and placement of COVID-19 patientsImplement enhanced access controlsEnhance control of staff accessEffective notificationsContinue containment efforts During the press conference, the Governor also announced a new statewide testing and contact tracing program. Developed and implemented by DSHS, this program will help identify individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and those who may need to quarantine or be tested due to potential exposure. This phased implementation will allow Texans to box in the virus and slow, or even stop, further spread. Phase I of the tracing program has been completed, and Phase II begins today. Phase III begins May 11. More details about the contact tracing program are available in the Governor’s Report to Open Texas beginning on page 16.  Governor Abbott today also relaxed certain restrictions related to health care professionals and issued amended requirements related to hospital capacity. Under an Executive Order (GA-19) issued today:All licensed health care professionals shall be limited in their practice by, and must comply with, any emergency rules promulgated by their respective licensing agencies dictating minimum standards for safe practice during the COVID-19 disaster.Every hospital licensed under Chapter 241 of the Texas Health & Safety Code shall reserve at least 15% of its hospital capacity for treatment of COVID-19 patients, accounting for the range of clinical severity of COVID-19 patients, as determined by HHSC.  Additionally, the Governor issued an Executive Order (GA-20) to eliminate the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for individuals traveling from Louisiana. Under GA-20, the mandated 14-day quarantine for travelers from the following areas remains in place: California; Connecticut; New York; New Jersey; Washington; Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan, and Miami, Florida.  View Texans Helping Texans: The Governor’s Report to Open Texas.  View the Governor’s Executive Orders issued today:GA-18: Relating to the expanded reopening of services as part of the safe, strategic plan to Open Texas in response to the COVID-19 disaster.GA-19: Relating to hospital capacity during the COVID-19 disaster.GA-20: Relating to expanding travel without restrictions as part of the safe, strategic plan to Open Texas in response to the COVID-19 disaster.

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For Immediate Distribution  |  April 21, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott Provides Update On Job Openings In Texas, Resources For Texans Seeking Employment

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today provided an update on job openings in the Lone Star State and outlined resources for Texans seeking employment due to the economic effects of COVID-19. The Governor also announced that nearly 500,000 job openings are currently listed on WorkInTexas.com, a powerful online job matching and workforce solution system developed by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). This system provides fast access to a complete set of employment tools in one website where job seekers can browse job postings, find education and training, and complete resumes and state applications.

The Governor presented different industries and certain employers that are hiring in each region of Texas and announced that many companies — including H-E-B, Amazon, and Randalls — are hiring statewide. Governor Abbott also discussed additional resources available through the 28 local workforce development boards located throughout the state of Texas. The local workforce solutions offices are also available to employers of all sizes who can receive assistance in recruiting, identifying, and hiring qualified individuals. These services are available to both employers and job seekers at no cost.

Job seekers can visit Texas Economic Development and Tourism’s Texas Jobs page for links to all 28 local workforce development boards. The webpage also contains additional COVID-19 resources for employers and job seekers alike.

“As we continue to slow the spread of COVID-19, we are also working to alleviate the severe economic devastation that has impacted so many Texans,” said Governor Abbott. “People are ready to get to work and earn a paycheck again, and the State of Texas is committed to connecting Texans with the many job opportunities that exist throughout the state. I thank the Texas Workforce Commission, our local workforce organizations, and businesses across the state who are working tirelessly to connect Texans with job openings during these challenging times.”

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For Immediate Distribution  |  April 17, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order Establishing Strike Force To Open Texas
Directs Select Services To Reopen, Closes Schools For Remainder Of Academic Year AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today held a press conference where he issued three new Executive Orders to begin the process of reopening the state of Texas while revising hospital capacity and certain social distancing guidelines. Within the orders, select activities and services that pose minimal to no threat of spreading COVID-19 are allowed to reopen using a “Retail-To-Go” model, certain restrictions on surgeries have been loosened, and schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year.  Within these orders, the Governor has established the Strike Force to Open Texas—a team of nationally recognized medical experts and private and public leaders who will advise the Governor on safely and strategically reopening the state of Texas. “Texans are battling a colossal challenge—an invisible enemy that has tested our lives and our livelihoods—but overcoming challenges is part of who we are as Texans,” said Governor Abbott. “We have shown that Texas can continue our efforts to contain COVID-19 while also adopting safe standards that will allow us to begin the process of reopening Texas. The Strike Force to Open Texas brings together nationally recognized medical experts with public and private sector leaders to achieve this mission. By coming together, we can get Texans back to work, practice safe standards that will prevent the spread of COVID-19, and we can overcome this pandemic.”   James Huffines will lead the advisory strike force and Mike Toomey will serve as Chief Operating Officer. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Comptroller Glenn Hegar will serve as consulting members. In addition, Governor Abbott has appointed Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, as Chief Medical Officer of the strike force. Dr. Hellerstedt will be supported by three Chief Medical Advisors:  John Zerwas, MD, Executive Vice-Chancellor for Health Affairs at the University of Texas System Mark McClellan, MD, PhD, Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner and U.S. Medicaid and Medicare Administrator Parker Hudson, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Dell Medical School and program director for the Internal Medicine Residency These health experts will develop a medical architecture to comprehensively test and trace COVID-19 that will enable Texans to gradually and safely begin the process of returning to work and other activities. The medical team will work alongside a Special Advisory Council who will share innovative ideas to help businesses strategically reopen while containing the spread of COVID-19. The council consists of 39 business leaders representing the state’s regions and industries. The advisory council will collaborate with working groups to devise strategies, statewide standards, and appropriate time frames to reopen the Lone Star State while prioritizing the health and safety of all Texans. The strike force will immediately begin providing input on potential additional openings of activities and services in Texas consistent with guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Governor will announce a revised plan for the state based on these initial recommendations on April 27.   Special Advisory Council members include: Arcilia Acosta: President and CEO, CARCON Industries & Construction Paul Andrews, Jr.: Founder and CEO, TTI Inc. Mark Bivins: Rancher, partner in Corsino Cattle Company Kathy Britton: CEO and Owner, Perry Homes Brad Brookshire: Chairman and CEO, Brookshire Grocery Co. J. Bruce Bugg, Jr.: Chairman, Texas Transportation Commission  Alonzo Cantu: President & CEO of Cantu Construction Bobby Cox: Owner and operator, Bobby Cox Companies, Inc. Adriana Cruz: Executive Director, Economic Development & Tourism Division, Office of the Governor Michael Dell: Chairman and CEO, Dell Technologies Scott Dueser: Chairman, President & CEO, First Financial Bank Don Evans: Chairman of the President George W. Bush Foundation, Chairman of Permian Strategic Partnership Tilman Fertitta: Chairman, CEO, and sole owner, Landry’s, Inc. Richard Fisher: Senior Advisor, Barclays and Former President & CEO, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Rick Francis: Chairman of the Board, WestStar Bank Holding Company, Inc.
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: Founding Partner/Principal and CEO, Carleton Companies Brad Heffington: Owner of Heffington Farms, Inc. and Triple T Irrigation, Inc. Jeffery D. Hildebrand: Executive Chairman and Founder, Hilcorp Energy Company Nancy Kinder: President & CEO, Kinder Foundation Tom Luce: Founder and Chairman, Texas 2036 Marc McDougal: CEO, McDougal Companies Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale: Owner, Gallery Furniture Drayton McLane: Chairman, McLane Group Elaine Mendoza: Founder, President & CEO of Conceptual MindWorks, Inc Balous Miller: Owner, Bill Miller Bar-B-Q Restaurants Carla Moran: Ramar Communications Dennis Nixon: CEO and Chairman of International Bank of Commerce David Oliveira: Partner at Roerig, Oliveira & Fisher, L.L.P. Ross Perot, Jr.: Chairman, The Perot Group Kevin D. Roberts, Ph.D.: Executive Director, Texas Public Policy Foundation Robert B. Rowling: Owner and Chairman, TRT Holdings, Inc. Kendra Scott: Founder and CEO, Kendra Scott Robert F. Smith: Founder, Chairman & CEO, Vista Equity Partners Sam L. Susser: Chairman of BancAffiliated, Inc. Massey Villarreal: CEO and President, Precision Task Group, Inc. Kirk Watson: Founding Dean of the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs Marc Watts: President, The Friedkin Group Graham Weston: Former Chairman of Rackspace Hosting Inc. Sanjiv Yajnik: President of the Financial Services Division, Capital One For more information about the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas, visit the strike force webpage.  The Governor’s second Executive Order (GA-16) relates to the safe, strategic reopening of select services and activities in Texas. This order establishes a temporary “Retail-To-Go” model that will allow retail outlets in Texas to reopen beginning Friday, April 24. Under this model, reopened establishments are required to deliver items to customer’s cars, homes, or other locations to minimize contact. Under this Executive Order, schools—including public, private, and higher education institutions—will remain closed for the 2019-2020 school year. Teachers may go into the classroom for video instruction, to perform administrative duties, and to clean out their classrooms. The Governor’s third Executive Order (GA-15) relates to hospital capacity and personal protective equipment (PPE) needed for the COVID-19 response. The order loosens restrictions on surgeries put in place by Governor Abbott in March. Beginning at 11:59pm on April 21 through 11:59pm on May 8, all licensed health care professionals and all licensed health care facilities must continue to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not medically necessary to diagnose or correct a serious medical condition of, or to preserve the life of, a patient who without timely performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death as determined by a patient’s physician. Exceptions now include:Any procedure that, if performed in accordance with the commonly accepted standard of clinical practice, would not deplete the hospital capacity or the PPE needed to cope with COVID-19, orAny surgery or procedure performed in a licensed health care facility that has certified in writing to Texas HHSC both (1) that it will reserve at least 25% of its hospital capacity for treatment of COVID-19 patients, accounting for the range of clinical severity of COVID-19 patients, and (2) that it will not request any PPE from any public source—whether federal, state, or local—for the duration of the COVID-19 disaster. The Governor today also directed state parks to reopen on Monday, April 20 with strict guidelines to reduce transmission of COVID-19—including requiring visitors to wear face coverings, maintain a six-foot distance from individuals outside of their party, and prohibiting the gathering of groups larger than five.

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