Texas - COVID-19 Covered

Texas

Total Cases: 62,675 (May 31)
Tests Administered: 893,275 (May 29)
Fatalities: 1,652 (May 31)
Testing:
  • Governor Abbott announced that CVS Health will open 44 new COVID-19 test sites at select CVS Pharmacy drive-thru locations across Texas. (May 21)  
  • Governor Abbott directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to expand COVID-19 testing to all patients, residents, and staff at the 23 state-operated inpatient psychiatric hospitals and living centers throughout Texas. (May 21)  
  • Governor Abbott and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) announced that local fire departments in Texas are partnering with local public health authorities to provide testing in nursing homes throughout the state. (May 15)  
  • Governor Abbott and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) announced that the federal government has extended seven community-based testing sites in Texas through June 30, 2020. (May 13)  
  • Governor Abbott directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to test all residents and staff in Texas nursing homes. (May 11)  
  • Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced the launch of a Harris County COVID-19 Strike Team to bring testing to senior centers and high-risk communities. (April 27)  
  • Governor Abbott announced that the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) have launched an online COVID-19 test collection map to help Texans locate test collection sites within their community. (April 24)  

ECONOMIC RESPONSE

Essential Service Designations:

  • Essential services include healthcare, grocery stores, banking and financial services, utilities, childcare for essential service employees, and government services. (March 31) 
  • All “critical infrastructure” will remain operational including grocery stores, gas stations, parks, and banks. (March 19)  

Labor & Workforce Guidance, Standards and Regulations:

  • Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen sent a letter to Congressional Leaders asking them to support liability protections for Texas employers. (May 12 
  • The Texas Workforce Commission spokesman is developing parameters for what might allow Texans to continue qualifying for unemployment insurance if they refuse to return to work at a reopened business. (April 30)  
  • Governor Abbot announced a new online Frontline Child Care Website to help essential workers in Texas locate child care and support child care centers who are caring for these children during the outbreak. (April 10 
  • Governor Abbott waived certain Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) regulations to extend childcare capacity for front line workers. These waivers will give TWC the flexibility to respond to childcare needs and are part of the Supply Chain Strike Force initiative to strengthen childcare infrastructure for critical workers during the COVID-19 response. (March 27) 
  • The Governor’s office has encouraged that for offices and workplaces that remain open, employees should practice good hygiene and, where feasible, work from home. (March 19) 

Economic Stimulus & Relief:

  • Governor Abbott sent a letter directing state agencies and institutions of higher education to each submit a plan identifying savings that will reduce respective general and general revenue related appropriations by five percent for the 2020-2021 biennium. (May 20 
  • Governor Abbott urged local governments to reduce the property tax burden on Texans and urged the passage of legislation to protect 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. (May 19)  
  • Governor Abbott 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. (May 14)  
  • The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide more than $1 billion in food benefits through the federal Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program to families with children who have temporarily lost access to free or discounted school meals due to COVID-19 related school closures. (May 12 
  • Governor Abbott announced that the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) has applied for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Category B assistance funding to provide financial support to Texas’ network of food banks. (May 8)  
  • Governor Abbott and the OneStar Foundation launched 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. (May 6)  
  • The City of Austin Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department (NHCD) announced they are giving $1.2 million in rental assistance to Austin residents affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. (May 1)  
  • Governor Abbott announced phase 1 of reopening businesses, such as restaurants, movie theaters, museums and malls, will begin Friday, May 1. (April 27)  
  • Governor Abbott and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) announced that HOME Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) will be made available to Texans experiencing housing challenges due to COVID-19. (April 24 
  • The Texas Workforce Commission paid out over $20 million in benefits on April 23 to those who are eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. (April 24)  
  • Governor Abbott announced that Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) will receive nearly $54 million in federal funds to support older Texans and people with disabilities. (April 23 
  • Governor Abbott announced that Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will provide a series of free online trainings to help local officials understand, acquire, and administer federal assistance available to the state of Texas and municipalities. (April 23)  
  • Governor Abbott announced that the Public Safety Office (PSO) will provide $38 million in federal funds to local units of government in Texas. (April 15)  
  • The Austin City Council approved $15 million in economic relief funds to assist people hit by the economic collapse caused by COVID-19. (April 10) 
  • The Texas Supreme Court ordered all creditors to delay collecting consumer debt until May 8. (April 9 
  • Governor Abbott announced that Texas Health and Human Services (THHS) will provide more than $168 million in emergency SNAP food benefits. (April 8)  
  • Governor Abbott and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) have taken action to provide tenant-based rental assistance for Texans experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. (April 1) 

Business Support & Resources:

  • Governor Abbott is allowing Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) license and permit renewals to occur after the current 30-day grace period after an expiration date without any late fees. (May 20)  
  • Governor Abbott has waived license renewal late fees accrued between March 13 and June 15, 2020 for occupational licenses issued by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). (May 13)  
  • Governor Abbott’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism launched the Governor’s Small Business Webinar Series to provide small business owners and entrepreneurs with relevant and actionable information on COVID-19 recovery resources. (April 16)  
  • Texas airports will receive an $811.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. (April 14 
  • Governor Abbott announced that Goldman Sachs and the LiftFund, along with other community development financial institutions (CDFIs), are partnering to provide $50 million in loans to small businesses. (April 13) 
  • Employers facing reduced business due to COVID-19 can submit a shared work plan to the state, which offers employers an alternative to layoffs. (TX Workforce Commission) 

SOCIAL RESTRICTIONS

Shelter-In-Place Orders:

  • Governor Abbott issued a proclamation expanding additional services and activities, such as water parks, recreational sport programs for adults, driver education programs, and food-court dining areas within shopping malls, that can open under Phase II. (May 26)  
  • Governor Abbott issued Executive Order (GA-24), terminating air travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. (May 21)  
  • Governor Abbott 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. (May 21)  
  • Governor Abbott announced the second phase of the ongoing plan to safely and strategically open Texas. 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. (May 18)  
  • Governor Abbott issued a proclamation, extending the Disaster Declaration for all Texas counties. (May 12)  
  • Governor Abbott modified his executive orders related to COVID-19 to eliminate confinement as a punishment for violating these orders. (May 7)  
  • Governor Abbott issued an executive order to expand the openings of certain businesses and activities, such as restaurants, movie theaters, and shopping malls. (May 5)  
  • Governor Abbott issued an executive order to revoke Executive Orders GA-11 and GA-12, relating to mandatory self-quarantine for travelers from New York State, the City of New Orleans, and Louisiana State. (April 28)  
  • Governor Abbott issued an executive order regarding reopening businesses that are not considered essential, providing guidance to retail services, dine-in restaurants, movie theaters, malls, museums and libraries, office workers, golf courses, local government operations, and additional services. (April 28) 
  • Governor Abbott announced phase 1 of reopening businesses, such as restaurants, movie theaters, museums and malls, will begin Friday, May 1. (April 27) 

Curfews:

  • No state-wide records found. 
  • Some local governments are issuing curfews. (March 19) 

Social-Distancing Guidelines:

  • Governor Abbott issued an Executive Order suspending in-person visitations in all county and municipal jails in the state of Texas. (May 22 
  • Governor Abbott said the state is working to have college football games in the fall with at least some fans in attendance. (May 22) 
  • Governor Abbott issued a proclamation, suspending sections of the Texas Election Code to permit early, in-person voting, for July 14 elections, to begin on June 29. (May 11)  
  • Governor Abbott issued a disaster declaration to allow Midland County Hospital District to host its special election on July 14. (May 8)  
  • City of Houston municipal courts extended suspension of all jury duty, trials, and hearings through May 31. (April 30)  
  • The city of Galveston will partially reopen public beaches on April 27 for exercise purposes only. (April 24)  
  • Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has ordered residents 10 years or older to wear face masks for 30 days starting on Monday, April 27. (April 22)  
  • Governor Abbott 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. (April 17) 
  • State parks will reopen April 20, but visitors will be required to wear face coverings. (April 17) 
  • San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg ordered everyone 10 years or older to wear a cloth mask in public areas where it’s difficult to stay 6 feet away from others.  (April 16)  
  • Governor Abbot issued a proclamation extending the state’s disaster declaration. (April 12)  
  • Governor Abbott issued an executive order that declared all individuals entering Texas from Louisiana must self-quarantine for 14 days. (March 29) 
  • Governor Abbott issued an executive order requiring visitors from the New York tri-state area and New Orleans to self-quarantine for fourteen days. (March 26) 

Delivery Services:

  • U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced SNAP recipients in Texas will be able to order online groceries. (April 21)  
  • Governor Abbott signed Executive Order GA-16, allowing retail outlets to reopen beginning on April 24 using a “Retail-To-Go” model(April 17)  
  • Governor Abbott is advising retailers to begin operating as of April 24 as “retail to go,” in which customers would order ahead of time and pick up items curbside. (April 17)  
  • The use of delivery, drive-thru and pick up services at bars and restaurants has been “allowed and highly encouraged” during the crisis. (March 19) 

SCHOOL CLOSURES

K-12:

  • Governor Abbott, the Texas Education Agency (TEA), and Dallas Independent School District (DISD) launched Operation Connectivity, a statewide initiative to deliver internet connectivity and device solutions for school districts, families, and students in Texas. (May 8)  
  • Governor Abbot and the Texas Education Agency announced guidelines for conducting graduation ceremonies. (May 5)  

State Higher Education:

  • Texas colleges and universities began announcing their plans to reopen in the fall, these include schools such as the University of Texas and Texas A&M University. (April 30)  
  • Governor Abbott temporarily waived certain restrictions to allow Texas higher education institutions to transfer all unexpended student financial aid funds from the Texas College Work-Study (TCWS) program to other financial aid programs that do not have a work-study requirement. (April 22)  

Produced by Marathon Strategies, an independent PR firm that delivers intelligent communications and research solutions. For information, email Phil Singer at COVID-19@marathonstrategies.com