While the White House has said they will soon end the national COVID state of emergency, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has extended his orders for another 30 days.
The latest extension makes it 1,070 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 every month.
“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, President Joe Biden has given notice that the federal order will expire on May 11.
State Rep. Brian Harrison (R–Waxahachie), who has called on Abbott to end his orders, says this should be the “last time” the orders are extended, adding that he would like to see legislation banning COVID vaccine mandates listed as an emergency priority so the Legislature can ban them immediately.
Gov @GregAbbott_TX just renewed Texas' COVID-19 Disaster Declaration. It needs to be the last time. He's right to demand #txlege finally ban COVID vaccine mandates. I've asked him to make it an "emergency item" tonight so we can ban them immediately. https://t.co/ZKs12bgrKu
— Brian Harrison (@brianeharrison) February 16, 2023
Harrison has also 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 March 15.