Governor Abbott Issues Executive Orders In Accordance With Federal Guidelines To Mitigate Spread Of COVID-19 In Texas

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced a series of Executive Orders relating to COVID-19 preparedness and mitigation. The four orders serve to limit public gatherings and help reduce exposure for people across the state. These orders are in accordance with federal guidelines issued by the President and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and will aid in the state’s efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Governor Abbott was joined for the announcement by Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) Chief Nim Kidd, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and Speaker Dennis Bonnen.

Commissioner Hellerstedt also announced that he has declared a Public Health Disaster which will give state and local officials additional tools to respond to COVID-19. The Governor’s Executive Orders, combined with the Public Health Disaster, provide Texas with enhanced tools and protocols to help state and local partners in their ongoing efforts to respond to, track the progress of, and limit the spread of COVID-19 in Texas.

“The State of Texas is at a pivotal moment in our response to COVID-19, and it is imperative that we act now on preemptive measures to slow the spread of this virus,” said Governor Abbott. “One of the most effective ways we can do this is by promoting more social distancing and ensuring Texans avoid large group settings such as bars, restaurants, gyms, and schools where the risk of spreading COVID-19 is high. We must also continue to protect our most vulnerable populations, which is why the State of Texas is barring all visitations at nursing homes and retirement or long-term care facilities except in the case of critical assistance. Today’s executive orders are precautionary measures that are in line with guidelines from the CDC and they will strengthen Texas’ ability to safeguard our communities and respond to COVID-19. As Texans, we must continue to work collaboratively to slow the spread of this virus and protect public health.”

The following orders have been issued by Governor Abbott:

  • 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 PM on March 20, 2020 and will end at 11:59 PM on April 3, 2020, subject to extension thereafter based on the status of COVID-19 in Texas and the recommendations of the CDC.

This executive order 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.

For offices and workplaces that remain open, employees should practice good hygiene and, where feasible, work from home in order to achieve optimum isolation from COVD-19. The more that people reduce their public contact, the sooner COVID-19 will be contained and the sooner this executive order will expire.

Under Chapter 81 of the Health and Safety Code, Commissioner Hellerstedt’s Public Health Disaster Declaration triggers a number of important tools for state and local officials to respond to COVID-19:

  • Texas and local health authorities can more easily require property owners to disinfect, decontaminate, and seal off property that might be contaminated.
  • It authorizes health authorities to take additional control measures that they see fit to control and eradicate the threat to public health.
  • It streamlines the process for state and local health authorities to invoke the courts to enforce quarantines of individuals.
  • Activates enhanced tools for DSHS to collect disease and health information and to share that information with law enforcement personnel and first responders as appropriate.

Executive Order

Download (PDF, 252KB)

Declaration

Download (PDF, 264KB)

 

 

Texas A&M System Stands Ready to Respond to COVID-19

The Texas A&M University System News Release

Three State-of-the-Art Manufacturing Facilities Only Need an Order from U.S. Government

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Texas A&M University System is beginning to get questions about the status of its vaccine manufacturing capabilities. You may attribute this statement to me:

“The Texas A&M University System completed the construction of two new facilities and the retrofitting of a third site on time and on budget in 2017. The System and its subcontractor, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies (FDB), are ready to respond to an order from the federal government to manufacture vaccines. To date, the System has received no federal order.

“FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies (FDB) owns and operates the facilities, capable of manufacturing a wide range of vaccines and therapeutic products. This means the facilities and a trained workforce are able to respond quickly as soon as a COVID-19 vaccine is developed and safely tested.”

FDB officials echoed the Texas A&M System’s statement:

“FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies (FDB) is utilizing its network of leading scientists, engineers and production facilities in both Europe and the USA, including those located in College Station, Texas to manufacture clinical material in short order to support the global efforts to control COVID-19. FDB stands ready to support United States government efforts to respond to the manufacture of a COVID-19 vaccine.”

About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation with a budget of $6.3 billion. The System is a statewide network of 11 universities; a comprehensive health science center; eight state agencies, including the Texas Division of Emergency Management; and the RELLIS Campus. The Texas A&M System educates more than 151,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceeded $1 billion in FY 2019 and helped drive the state’s economy.

Contact: Laylan Copelin
Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications
(979) 458-6425
(512) 289-2782 cell
lcopelin@tamus.edu

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TAMUS Guidance for Coronavirus

The Texas A&M University System News Release

Sent on behalf of Chancellor John Sharp

Texas A&M University System CEOs:

Thank you for communicating with us over the last 24-48 hours regarding decisions about your campus operations and overall plans for the remainder of the spring semester.  TAMUS is providing the following guidance to our institutions and agencies as of 3/13/2020:

Institutions: We ask that you plan to suspend classes for the week following your spring breaks.  This will include all of your teaching locations, including RELLIS.  During the suspension of classes, please use that time to plan for delivery of online/alternative education for all students for the remainder of the semester or until the current situation changes and further guidance is provided.  For those universities with spring break during the week of 3/16-20, we realize you may or may not need to suspend classes the following week.  Existing online courses may continue as planned, at the university’s discretion.  We realize that in some cases it may be difficult or impossible to eliminate face-to-face interaction, due to the nature of the class or due to technical or other limitations.  If face-to-face class meetings are the only way to deliver the curriculum, we would recommend groups of 50 or smaller in spaces that allow for social distancing, which the CDC recommends to be at least six feet.

Campuses will remain open during this time.  Student housing will remain open, and food service will continue, unless circumstances change.  It will be a local campus decision as to staffing needed to maintain essential operations.

Agencies and System Offices: Agencies and System offices may move to skeleton crew staffing, as appropriate, for five days beginning March 16ththrough the 20th.  Each Vice Chancellor or Agency director may designate staffing levels needed to maintain critical business operations and continuity.  This plan will be revisited by 3/19.  This does not apply to TDEM given its emergency management responsibilities, or to certain divisions of Agrilife, TEEX, TFS, and TVMDL, as determined by agency leadership.  

Travel: As of 3/13/2020, no international travel is permitted and no domestic travel is permitted unless deemed mission critical.  Regarding travel to Washington, D.C., as of 5 p.m. EST today, public access to the U. S Capitol complex, including the House and Senate office buildings, is limited until 8 a.m. Thursday, April 1.  There will be no public tours or meetings with more than 15 visitors.  Access for Official Business meetings will be limited and subject to staff escort from the building entrance.  We expect these temporary access restrictions to expand to include federal agencies in the coming days.  We recommend that any administrators, faculty, staff or students contemplating business travel to Washington, D.C. contact the A&M System Washington office prior to making any plans for further advice and consultation.

In addition, we would like to provide guidance from CDC regarding self-isolation and self-monitoring.  This information is important as you may have students, faculty and staff who may be returning from travel abroad or within the U.S., which is now a Level 2 country.  Please continue to check the CDC website as these recommendations may evolve:

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO SELF-MONITOR?
According to the CDC, self-monitoring means people should monitor themselves for fever by taking their temperatures twice a day and remain alert for cough or difficulty breathing.  If you feel feverish or develop measured fever, cough, or difficulty breathing during the self-monitoring period, you should self-isolate, limit contact with others, and seek advice by telephone from a healthcare provider. To download the CDC Check and Report Every Day (CARE) Booklet which helps you understand how to self-monitor your health and how to check your symptoms daily visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/COVID-19_CAREKit_ENG.pdf

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO SELF-ISOLATE?
If you are not experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 and are asked to self-isolate after returning from a country listed on the CDC’s COVID-19 travel advisories page as Level 3, you should stay off campus and remain home.  Do not go to campus including work, residence halls and apartments, classes, athletic events or other social gatherings until 14 days after leaving the Level 3 country in question. Likewise, avoid public places and gatherings in the community.

Please follow these guidelines for self-isolation:
Report any symptoms of COVID-19 immediately to your medical provider, preferably by calling to get advice and instructions.  Stay in your room or apartment.  Do not go to work, classes, athletic events, or other social or religious gatherings until 14 days after your return to the United States from the country in question.  Limit contact as much as possible.  This also means limiting close contact with others including persons living in your residence.  Wash your hands with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand rubs after coughing or sneezing or throwing a used tissue in the garbage.  Cover coughs and sneezes with your upper sleeve or a tissue.  Never cough in the direction of someone else.  Avoid sharing household items.  Do not share drinking glasses, towels, eating utensils, bedding, or any other items until you are no longer asked to self-isolate.  Keep your surroundings clean. While the virus is not spread very well from contact with soiled household surfaces, try to clean surfaces that you share with others, such as door knobs, telephones, and bathroom surfaces (or any other object that you sneeze or cough on), with a standard household disinfectant wipe.  Wash your hands after cleaning the area.  Monitor yourself for symptoms at least daily including measuring your temperature. Any symptoms of COVID-19 should be reported to your physician. To download the CDC Check and Report Every Day (CARE) Booklet which helps you understand how to self-monitor your health and how to check your symptoms daily visit:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/COVID-19_CAREKit_ENG.pdf

Please continue to be vigilant with public health measures that you are all implementing and that the public is being asked to practice, such as frequent hand washing, social distancing, and staying home if ill.  We will continue to monitor the situation and appreciate everyone’s diligence and cooperation during this challenging time as we seek to protect our students, faculty, staff and communities.

Jenny E. Jones, M.A.
Vice Chancellor for Governmental Relations
Texas A&M University System
1303 San Antonio Street, Ste 850 | Austin, TX 78701
ph: 512.542.7834  | jjones@tamus.edu

About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $6.3 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies, and the RELLIS Campus, the Texas A&M System educates more than 153,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceeded $1 billion in FY 2019 and helped drive the state’s economy.

Contact: Laylan Copelin
Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications
(979) 458-6425
(512) 289-2782 cell
lcopelin@tamus.edu

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COVID-19 Experts From Texas A&M System Fight Fear With Facts

The Texas A&M University System News Release

​COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Scientists from The Texas A&M University System are helping the state, the nation and the world better understand, prepare for and respond to the outbreak of COVID-19.

They fight fear with facts. They offer the calming context that comes from decades of study into pandemics and coronaviruses.

“It’s no wonder that so many authorities turn to us,” said John Sharp, Chancellor of the Texas A&M system. “The scientists here are uniquely qualified to help policymakers and ordinary people understand this outbreak.”
 
See related video here: Coronavirus
 
Federal officials in Washington D.C. and state leaders in Austin have sought out the pandemic experts at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, where the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs offers policy guidance on prevention and response.
 
Among the experts is Dr. Gerald Parker, who also serves as associate dean of Global One Health at the University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
 
Dr. Parker is a former deputy secretary for chemical and biological defense at the U.S. Defense Department and a former assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services.
 
“This is a brand new virus,” Dr. Parker said “There’s so much that we don’t know that it is just naturally alarming to us as human beings.
 
“But what we’re doing today is phenomenally much better today than it was 20 years ago,” Parker said. “The scientific enterprise across the globe is responding with unprecedented speed.”
 
Another leading scientist is Dr. Ben Neuman, head of the biology department at Texas A&M University-Texarkana, a researcher who has worked with coronaviruses for 24 years.
 
Dr. Neuman serves on the international committee that named the latest virus, and he has been interviewed by news reporters throughout Europe and Asia as well as North America.
 
“Coronaviruses don’t really want to kill you, they really want to hide,” Dr. Neuman said. “They are very good at basically sneaking around your immune system, and cutting all the wires that would let your body know that it’s infected.
 
“When you or I get sick,” he added, “we actually have enough viruses inside of us to infect every single person on the face of the earth — just concentrated in one body. It’s kind of a miracle that everybody’s not sick all the time.
 
“Our immune system is great at its job. And frankly, that’s what makes life possible.”
Dr. Parker encourages people to seek advice from the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the Texas Department of State Health Services and local public health authorities.
 
“We need to be ready in case we do see more cases in our community,” he said. “But there’s no need to panic.”
 
About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $6.3 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies, and the RELLIS Campus, the Texas A&M System educates more than 151,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceeded $1 billion in FY 2019 and helped drive the state’s economy.
 
Contact: Mike Reilly
Director of Communications
(979) 458-6492
(402) 679-0456 cell

 

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