Despite growing pressure to end his COVID state of emergency declaration, Gov. Greg Abbott has quietly extended the order for another 30 days.
The latest extension makes it 1,046 days that Texas has been in a state of emergency over the virus.
First issued in March 13, 2020, the emergency declaration became the basis for numerous COVID-related executive orders including business shutdowns and mask mandates—all without input from the state Legislature. As Texas began to reopen, executive orders were issued in an attempt to prohibit local entities from implementing more stringent requirements.
An emergency declaration can only be issued for up to 30 days at a time. Since it was first issued, however, Abbott has repeatedly extended it.
When the order was set to expire on January 15, Abbott’s office did not publish an extension of the order, leading to speculation that he may have quietly ended the COVID state of emergency ahead of his inauguration.
Even days later, there was no record of an extension being filed by Abbott, and his office did not respond to inquiries from Texas Scorecard.
Now Abbott’s website has been updated with a new post—backdated to January 15, 2023—that shows he has once again extended his COVID emergency declaration.
“I intend to keep these executive orders and suspensions in place until the Legislature can enact laws this session to prohibit local governments from imposing restrictions like mask mandates and vaccine mandates,” Abbott’s declaration reads, adding that his renewal “in no way infringes on the rights or liberties of any law-abiding Texans.”
Abbott is one of just two Republican governors nationwide to continue to keep a state of emergency for COVID, joining Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
Meanwhile, some lawmakers like State Rep. Brian Harrison (R–Waxahachie) have called for an immediate stop to the orders, saying never-ending emergency authorities are “antithetical to representative government.”
Harrison recently wrote a letter to Abbott urging him to stop extending the emergency orders and has filed legislation to prevent perpetual emergency orders and return power to the people through their elected representatives in the state Legislature.
Abbott’s latest extension, meanwhile, is slated to expire on February 14.