Texas schools will remain closed until May 4, and social distancing efforts need to continue. Those were two of Gov. Greg Abbott’s messages about coronavirus on Tuesday afternoon.
He is not calling his executive order a stay-at-home order.
Abbott’s order asks people to stay home unless they have an essential job to do or need to do something essential, such as go to a grocery store. Essential services include health care, public safety, energy, information technology and public works, to name a few.
“This executive order shall supersede any conflicting order issued by local officials in response to the COVID-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,” Abbott said.
More information can be found at http://tdem.texas.gov/essentialservices/.
The essential services and activities order will go into effect 12:01 AM on Thursday, April 2, 2020 and last until April 30, 2020.
One difference between the governor’s order and local stay-at-home orders are churches and other houses of worship are allowed to hold congregations and drive-up services so long as they follow the CDC’s social distancing guidelines. The governor’s order overrides local orders like Harris County giving ultra-conservatives and some pastors, who sued the county claiming infringement of freedom of religion, a victory.
Lt. Gov Dan Patrick, House Speaker Rep. Dennis Bonnen, Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services John Hellerstedt, Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd, and Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath joined Abbott at the capitol for the update.
His action today follows a formal plea from the Texas Hospital Association and Texas Nurses Association for a statewide stay-at-home order.
“We are not yet done with our response,” Abbott said. “We’ve come too far to falter now.”
There have been 41 fatalities due to COVID-19 in Texas. Abbott explained that currently 11 percent of those tested have tested positive.
Rep. Dennis Bonnen, referred to a quote by Winston S. Churchill, “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”
Abbott thanked Texans for their efforts during this pandemic.
“My gratitude to Texans for their tremendous efforts to reduce the coronavirus, you are saving lives and improving the health of people across our entire state.”