POOL via The Texas Tribune, Jordan Vonderhaar
Editor’s note: This is a fluid list of a chronology of events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in Texas. This will be updated regularly and things may change from time in accordance with those changes. The article is informed by press releases from the governor’s office and pool coverage was provided by The Austin-American Statesman, Texas Tribune, Dallas Morning News, Star-ForthWorth Telegram and The El Paso Times.
First published: 3/21/2020. Last updated: 4/11/2020.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state disaster for all counties March, 13 as concerns of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) were confirmed across Texas.
By declaring a state of disaster a number of actions were triggered by the governor, including the following:
Authorizing the use of all available and necessary state government resources to help manage this situation.
Activating the state emergency management plan and the State Operations Center to enhance the state’s planning and response capabilities.
Giving Texas Department of Emergency Management the ability to reassign & fully utilize appropriate personnel where they are needed most.
Providing the immediate ability to move resources around the state, including resources obtained through the Strategic National Stockpile.
Empowering the Office of the Texas Attorney General to pursue cases of price-gouging and ensure that offenders are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
As things in the state ramped up, the governor and his office issued a number of orders which came in quick succession in an effort to mitigate the spread of the virus.
As of March 17, Abbott reported that 1,264 Texans had been tested for the virus.
“As of this moment, 1,264 Texans have been tested. That number will continue to increase dramatically.”
Abbott said he was confident that Texas will be able to test 10,000 people weekly by the end of the week.
Thursday, March 19, Abbott issued the following executive orders to mitigate the spread of COVID-19:
Order No. 1: In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, every person in Texas shall avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.
Order No. 2: In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, people shall avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants and food courts, or visiting gyms or massage parlors; provided, however, that the use of drive-thru, pickup or delivery options is allowed and highly encouraged throughout the limited duration of this executive order.
Order No. 3: In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, people shall not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
Order No. 4: In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, schools shall temporarily close.
These orders will be effective on a statewide basis starting at 11:59 p.m. March 20 and will end at 11:59 p.m. April 3, subject to extension thereafter based on the status of COVID-19 in Texas and the recommendations of the CDC.
The executive order issued by Abbott does not prohibit people from visiting a variety of places, including grocery stores, gas stations, parks and banks, so long as the necessary precautions are maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. This executive order does not mandate sheltering in place. All critical infrastructure will remain operational, domestic travel will remain unrestricted, and government entities and businesses will continue providing essential services.
March, 19, Abbott reported that since the state of disaster declaration, the cases of COVID-19 in the state had grown by more than 300%.
“Today, we have more than 140 people in the state of Texas who have tested positive for COVID-19,” Abbott said to pool reporters March, 19. “When I declared a disaster last Friday, there were zero deaths related to COVID-19 in the state of Texas. Today, there are at least three deaths related to COVID-19. When I declared the (state of) disaster just last Friday, six days ago, there were 10 counties in the state of Texas where COVID-19 had been identified. Today, there are 27 counties where COVID-19 has been identified.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott held a press conference March 24, updating the public on the COVID-19 situation in the state and issued two additional executive orders. The orders require hospitals to submit daily reports on the number of beds available and the number of testing done per day. The announcement of the new orders comes after the governor previously issued an order postponing all non-medically necessary surgeries to open up more beds.
As of March 24, The Texas State Department of Health reported 715 Texans have tested positive for the virus, with a total of 11 deaths. Only 65 of the 254 counties have confirmed cases.
Abbott reiterated the high demand for personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves. The governor said 10,000 masks came in March 23 from various donors, which are currently being distributed. Donations are still being accepted at www.texas.gov.
“We’re so pleased and proud and grateful to everyone who is offering donations,” Abbott said and encouraged people to continue to donate supplies or volunteer their time.
At a press conference, March 31, Governor Greg Abbott reported that as of Noon, 42,922 Texans have been tested for COVID-19. Abbott reported that 122 counties in the state have reported at least one case of COVID-19 and that 41 Texans have lost their lives in connection with COVID-19.
Abbott reported that he is modifying his executive orders on social distancing in Texas, in short according to the order, Texans are expected to limit personal interactions that can lead to COVID-19.
Abbott’s order renews and expands the previous directive to minimize social gatherings and minimize contact with people who are not in the same household. It also renews the Governor’s directive to avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, and visiting gyms or massage establishments, and it expands the order to include tattoo studios, piercing studios, and cosmetology salons. The order also maintains that schools in Texas will remain closed until Monday May 4, or until otherwise told to reopen.
As of 11:57 p.m. April 11, The Texas Department of Human Health Services has reported 12,561 COVID-19 cases in Texas, 254 fatalities related to the virus and 1,617 patients who are believed to have recovered from the virus.
Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra Sr. reported via his personal Twitter and later a press release from the county that Hays County has reported 82 lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 cases as of April 10, up from 79 reported on April 9.
Hays County Local Health Department reports 82 lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 cases as of April 10, up from 79 on April 9. pic.twitter.com/z7clFd3gWl
— Judge Ruben Becerra (@rubenbecerrasr) April 10, 2020
Abbott is expected to issue an executive order next week regarding businesses in Texas reopening. The Governor stated in a press conference Friday that he wants to reopen businesses to begin economic revitalization across the state.
“We will focus on protecting lives while restoring livelihoods; we can and we must do this,” Abbott said.
Below is an interactive timeline of events: