In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Gov. Greg Abbott declared the entire state of Texas is in a public health disaster as citizens and governments continue to battle the Chinese coronavirus. Abbott also issued an order closing restaurant dining rooms, bars, and schools for 29 million Texans.
The order, which is effective midnight Friday and runs through April 3, dramatically alters everyday life for Texans but does allow takeout and drive-thru restaurants to continue to operate. It also orders a halt to nursing home visitations, except for those in critical care.
Abbott says the order is necessary to help contain the spread of the Chinese coronavirus and prevent it from overrunning the state’s medical infrastructure. The virus has infected more than 200,000 people globally and killed almost 3,500 in Italy.
Thus far, Texas has had 80 confirmed cases with three confirmed deaths, but medical experts claim those numbers will rise dramatically in the Lone Star State in the coming weeks. Abbott argues dramatic efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 now will allow Texas to return to normalcy more quickly.
“All jurisdictions must work to contain the spread of COVID-19 for at least the next two weeks,” Abbott said at a Thursday news conference. “We are doing this now today so that we can get back to business as usual more quickly.”
Abbott is set to address the outbreak again at 7 p.m. this evening through a virtual townhall.
— Texas DSHS (@TexasDSHS) March 19, 2020