Aug 11, 2020

Texas State and Local Action on COVID-19

For a complete look at federal and state action related to the coronavirus, visit MWC’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Facts and Resources website.

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COVID-19 has created a fluid and rapidly evolving situation across the state of Texas. Below are the latest developments.

Case Statistics as of 8/11/2020:

  • 500,620 total cases (133,598 estimated active cases)
  • 8,913 new cases today
  • 358,312 estimated recovered
  • 8,710 fatalities (220 new)
  • 7,216 hospitalized
  • 4,088,863 total viral tests (8/10/2020)
  • 20.99% infection rate (8/10/2020)
    DSHS COVID Dashboard 

Governor Abbott Holds Press Conferences in Beaumont and Victoria on August 11

Beaumont – In the briefing, the Governor and local and state leaders discussed strategies to continue reducing the number of positive cases and hospitalizations in Jefferson County, including blood and plasma donations from recovered patients to help treat those currently diagnosed with COVID-19. The leaders noted that any outstanding needs of the community have been met by the State, and discussed how Jefferson County has reduced the number of hospitalizations, positive cases, and new fatalities following a spike several weeks ago. The leaders also discussed the upcoming school year and strategies to reduce transmission of COVID-19 among students, teachers, and staff, and the Governor reaffirmed the state's commitment to ensuring that schools have the tools they need to safely resume in-person instruction for the upcoming school year.

During the press conference, the Governor commended the people of Jefferson County for their collective response to COVID-19, and thanked Texans in the community for embracing best practices to reduce the spread of the virus — including wearing a mask, social distancing, and staying home as much as possible. The Governor urged Texans in Jefferson County to continue practicing these strategies, and encouraged those who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate blood and plasma to help with mitigation and recovery efforts.

The Governor has surged a variety of resources to Jefferson County to help combat COVID-19. Governor Abbott facilitated robust testing initiatives in the community, leading to 17 established testing locations and the testing of staff and residents at seven nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities within the county. Additionally, the State of Texas has provided two disinfection missions to nursing home facilities in Beaumont, and has helped meet health care staffing needs in Port Arthur and Beaumont. The Texas Department of State Health Services has distributed several cases of Remdesivir to hospitals in Jefferson County.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) has distributed over 1.1 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to Jefferson County, including nearly 756,000 masks, over 118,000 pairs of gloves, and 10,880 face shields. This distribution also includes over 153,200 pieces of PPE for independent school districts in Jefferson County.

Victoria – During the briefing, the leaders discussed the decline in positive COVID-19 cases in Victoria and attributed this to community members following strategies that mitigate the spread of the virus. Leaders also discussed current needs in the community as well as anticipated needs heading into the school year. In addition, the Governor and local officials discussed personal protective equipment (PPE) distribution to school districts in Victoria County, and strategies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as schools resume in-person instruction for the upcoming academic year. During the press conference, the Governor provided an update on the briefing and recognized the local officials and leaders, including Representative Geanie Morrison, for their work to meet the needs of the community.

Governor Abbott has secured a variety of resources for Victoria County, including over 210,000 pieces of PPE. Of this amount, 185,362 pieces have been distributed to local independent school districts (ISD). The Texas Division of Emergency Management has distributed 183,650 masks to local ISDs and 1,712 gallons of hand sanitizer. The Texas Department of State Health Services have distributed several cases of remdesivir to hospitals in Victoria County. Additionally, the Governor facilitated testing for residents and staff at five nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities, and provided resources to help meet health care staffing needs within the county.

Senate Finance Releases Interim Report

Senator Nelson and the Senate Finance Committee released their interim report this afternoon, below are their following recommendations:

Charge 1 - Investment of State Funds:

Review the investment strategies and performance of funds invested through the Teacher Retirement System, the Permanent School Fund, and university funds. Make recommendations to better coordinate and leverage Texas' purchasing power to maximize investment income to the state.

Recommendations

The size of Texas' investment funds and the critical needs they support requires coordination and appropriate leveraging of resources to ensure the state is maximizing its investment returns, meeting its obligations, and preserving its financial standing both during typical market activity and during times of uncertainty. The following recommendations will bolster these efforts:

  • Develop a plan to improve the financial forecast of the ERS Pension Trust Fund to ensure benefits for members and preserve the state's high credit rating.
  • Consider reforms to statutory limits on TRS investments in real estate to increase transparency in any future real estate investments by the TRS Pension Trust Fund.
  • Evaluate the efficiency of the current governance and investment structure of the PSF and consider alternative structures to reduce costs and streamline transfers to the ASF.
  • Continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on markets and major state investment funds. Look for ways to further insulate the state from future global pandemics or similar events.

Charge 2 - Agency Technology:

Review current and prospective technology related purchases and upgrades in state agencies. Identify areas of overlap and make recommendations to eliminate duplication, improve efficiency, save costs, and improve performance.

Recommendations

Hackers continue to adapt to defenses. Texas must continually evaluate its technology, laws and, given limited resources, be strategic with its funds to continue bolstering the state's information technology and cyber defense capabilities. The following recommendations will help achieve this goal:

  • Review laws to protect consumers' data held in the private sector.
  • Identify and prioritize information technology needs with the greatest risk to personally identifiable information or other sensitive information.
  • Promote greater agency participation in the survey used to create Prioritization of Cybersecurity and Legacy Systems Report at DIR.
  • Evaluate ways to standardize data privacy and cyber policies across state government and encourage best practices.
  • Review privacy laws enacted by other states to determine ways to strengthen consumer knowledge and power over how their personal information is used in the private sector.

Charge 3 - Performance Based-Contracting:

Review and determine best practices for executing performance-based contracting across all health and human service agencies, and other selected agencies, as applicable. Identify which services utilize performance-based contracting, as well as their outcomes. Recommend specific strategies for improving and expanding performance based contracting across all health and human service agencies, and other selected agencies, as applicable.

Charge 4 - Spending Limit:

Examine options and make recommendations for strengthening restrictions on appropriations established in Article VIII, Section 22, of the Texas Constitution, including related procedures defined in statute. Consider options for ensuring available revenues above spending limit are reserved for tax relief.

Recommendations

A strong spending limit is an essential tool to limit the growth in government spending and maintain fiscal responsibility. The Legislature should consider ways to strengthen the limit in a manner that truly reflects the growth of our economy while allowing Texas to meet the needs of its growing population, such as:

  • Defining the rate of growth in the state’s economy as population-times-inflation.
  • Simplifying the spending limit base calculation.

Charge 5 - Higher Education Research Programs:

Create a comprehensive list of research projects conducted by higher education institutions that are funded by state expenditures, including an inventory of funding streams and programs supporting identified research projects. Identify best practice methods to improve efficiency and coordination of research among university systems, eliminate duplication, and align research projects with the goals of the state.

Recommendations

Research plays a vital role in the advancement of our society. The 87th Legislature is headed into a difficult budget session given the downturn in the economy due to the pandemic. It is important, now more than ever, that we coordinate research resources across the institutions and avoid duplication – to make sure our state dollars stretch. Recommendations to further this goal include:

  • Consider whether pilot programs for mission-specific formulas have met the Legislature’s expectation that the desired outcomes are produced.
  • Re-evaluate the multiple funding sources for research to determine whether sources can be consolidated or streamlined.
  • Consider ways to facilitate improved coordination of research among institutions to eliminate duplications, improve outcomes and ensure that research is aligned with goals of the state

Charge 6 - Business Personal Property Tax:

Study the economic dynamics of the current business personal property tax. Consider the economic and fiscal effects of increased exemptions to the business personal property tax, versus its elimination. Following such study, make recommended changes to law.

Recommendations

Texas remains a national leader when it comes to establishing a hospitable environment in which businesses can succeed. The Legislature should evaluate the following ways to strengthen Texas’ competitive advantage:

  • Consider adjusting the current $500 exemption to account for inflation and the cost of administering the tax.
  • Streamline the process for compliance.
  • Reduce reliance on the business personal property tax as the state budget allows.

Senate Finance Committee Interim Report – August 2020

HHSC Allows Limited Visitation for Nursing and Long-Term Care Facilities

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) announced limited visitation rules for nursing facilities and long-term care facilities. HHSC is also issuing enhanced emergency rules requiring additional actions by nursing facilities to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Nursing Facilities

For the health and safety of facility residents and staff, public visitation is limited to outdoor visits only. Physical contact between residents and visitors is not permitted. Additional conditions a facility must meet to conduct limited outdoor visitation include: 

  • No confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in staff in the last 14 days.
  • No active positive cases in residents.
  • Any facility previously experiencing an outbreak that has fully recovered must be adequately staffed and following adequate infection control procedures.
  • Facility staff are being tested for COVID-19 weekly.

Further guidance on limited nursing facility visitation rules, which include window visits and vehicle parades, will be posted on the HHSC COVID-19 provider web page. 

Long-Term Care Facilities (except Nursing Facilities)

Limited indoor and outdoor visitation procedures are allowed. Physical contact between residents and visitors is not permitted. Additional conditions a facility must meet to conduct limited visitation include:

  • No confirmed COVID-19 positive staff in last 14 days.
  • No active positive cases in residents.
  • Adequate staffing to facilitate visitation in compliance with infection control requirements.
  • Use of plexiglass as a safety barrier for indoor visitation to prevent spread of COVID-19.

Further guidance on limited indoor and outdoor visitation rules will be posted on the HHSC COVID-19 provider web page.

Emergency Rule Enhancements

Enhanced emergency rules for nursing facilities include:

  • Each facility must have a COVID-19 response plan that includes designated staff to work with cohorts of residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, and staff should not change designation from one day to another, unless required to maintain adequate staffing for a cohort.
  • All nursing facilities must screen all residents, staff, and people who come to the facility in accordance with specified criteria, and each resident must be screened at least three times a day for signs or symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Each facility must have plans for obtaining and maintaining a two-week supply of personal protective equipment and resident recovery plans for continuing care when a resident recovers from COVID-19.

The full emergency rules will be posted on the HHSC COVID-19 provider web page.

The latest guidance for nursing facilities is posted here. Texas HHSC continues to investigate all long-term care facilities in the state that report one or more positive case of COVID-19, as well as coordinate closely with local, state, and federal health authorities.

Texas Receives $1.1 Billion for Nursing Facilities

Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) today announced that $1.1 billion in Quality Incentive Payment Program (QIPP) funds have been approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to support Texas nursing facilities that provide care for individuals receiving Medicaid. QIPP provides performance incentive Medicaid payments to nursing facilities that provide care for persons with Medicaid and rewards quality improvements in staffing, infection control, and other key long-term care quality indicators.

Governor Abbott Discusses Upcoming Flu Season

Governor Greg Abbott held a roundtable at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center on Texas' approach to flu season as the state and the country continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor was joined by medical experts, state legislators, and state agency leaders for the roundtable.

During the roundtable, the leaders focused on the importance of flu vaccines and discussed proactive strategies the state can utilize to mitigate the spread of both COVID-19 and the flu in our communities. The leaders also discussed ways to increase the amount of COVID-19 and flu testing in light of the upcoming flu season, and the need for more personal protective equipment to combat both COVID-19 and the flu. The Governor noted that a simultaneous, parallel approach to both COVID-19 and the flu will be key in the state's efforts to protecting public health and reducing the number of active cases and hospitalizations.

Following the roundtable, Governor Abbott held a press conference where he discussed the topics from the roundtable, and urged Texans to get a flu vaccine as the season approaches. Governor Abbott also provided an update on the state's efforts to combat COVID-19. The Governor noted that the COVID-19 numbers are improving in the Dallas-Fort Worth community, citing a downward trend in hospitalizations and positivity rate, but urged Texans to remain vigilant against the virus by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, avoiding group gatherings, and utilizing sanitation strategies that will continue to spur a downtrend in COVID-19 cases.

TEA Releases Guidance for the 2020-2021 School Year

Daily on-campus learning will be available to all parents who would like their students to learn in school each day. 

  • In addition, all parents will have the option to choose remote learning for their children, initially, or at any point as the year progresses. Parents who choose remote instruction for their students may be asked to commit to remote instruction for a full grading period (e.g. 6 or 9 weeks), but will not have to make that commitment more than two weeks in advance, so they can make a decision based on the latest public health information. 

Health and safety procedures will be in place to support student and teacher safety.

  • Some health procedures are mandated for every school in the state. For example, all students, teachers, staff, and visitors coming to campus must be screened before being allowed on campus. Consistent with the Governor’s most recent executive order, and assuming that order is still in place, masks will be required while in school buildings, with certain exceptions made, as noted in the order. Schools will also be required to follow any forthcoming executive orders issued by the Governor.
  • Additional health procedures are recommended for every school that can reasonably implement those procedures. 
  • Districts have the option to establish a phased-in return to on-campus instruction for up to the first three weeks of the school year, to ensure all appropriate health and safety procedures are fully in place. 

TEA is providing school systems with resources to ensure a strong start. This includes:

  • Reimbursement for extra COVID-19-related expenses incurred during the 2019-20 school year;
  • Tens of millions of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies provided to school systems at no cost to Texas schools;
  • Free online, TEKS-aligned learning tools to deliver remote instruction;
  • Teacher training provided at no cost to the school system; and Statewide efforts to help bridge the digital divide for students at home, along with other ongoing support.
    TEA Press Release 

Local Orders

Tarrant County Order

  • All commercial entities in Tarrant County must develop a health & safety policy by June 26 that includes masks for all employees and visitors (some exceptions allowed). The order is set to expire August 3, unless otherwise ordered.

Hidalgo County Order

  • Hidalgo County extended their previous executive order to now include:
  • Curfew
    • 17 and under (10:00 pm – 6:00 am)
    • 18 and older ( 11:00 pm – 5:00 am)
  • Social Gatherings
    • No public or private gatherings of more than 10 people

Harris County Order

  • All commercial entities in Harris County must develop a health & safety policy by June 24 that includes masks for all employees and visitors (some exceptions allowed). The order is set to expire June 30, unless otherwise ordered.
  • The Commissioner’s Court met today, and voted to extend the order until July 15th.

Dallas County Order

  • All commercial entities in Dallas County must develop a health & safety policy by June 24 that includes masks for all employees and visitors (some exceptions allowed). The order is set to expire August 4, unless otherwise ordered.
  • Employers shall not implement any rules making a negative COVID-19 test or a note from a healthcare provider a requirement before a COVID-19 recovered employee can return to work. (healthcare facilities exempted)
  • If someone in a household has tested positive for coronavirus, the household is ordered to isolate at home. Members of the household cannot go to work, school, or any other community function, except for workers included in Essential Healthcare Operations who may continue to work in accordance with CDC guidance.
  • Nursing homes, retirement, and long-term care facilities are instructed by this Order to prohibit non-essential visitors from accessing their facilities unless to provide critical assistance or for end-of-life visitation.

Hays County Order

  • All commercial entities in Hays County must develop a health & safety policy by June 22 that includes masks for all employees and visitors (some exceptions allowed). The order is set to expire July 20, unless otherwise ordered.

Bexar County Executive Order

  • All commercial entities in Bexar County must develop a health & safety policy by June 22 that includes masks for all employees and visitors (some exceptions allowed). The order is set to expire July 15, unless otherwise ordered.

City of Austin Order

  • All commercial entities in Austin must develop a health & safety policy by June 23 that includes masks for all employees and visitors (some exceptions allowed). The order is set to expire August 15, unless otherwise ordered.

Cameron County Order

  • All commercial entities in Cameron County must develop a health & safety policy by June 24 that includes masks for all employees and visitors (some exceptions allowed). The order is set to expire June 30, unless otherwise ordered.
  • The order was extended to July 13. In addition to masks, the new order includes a curfew, beach access closure, and limitations on gatherings.

El Paso County Order

  • All commercial entities in El Paso County must develop a health & safety policy by June 21 that includes masks for all employees and visitors (some exceptions allowed). The order remains in effect until otherwise noted.

City of Waco Order

  • All commercial entities in Waco must develop a health & safety policy by June 24 that includes masks for all employees and visitors (some exceptions allowed).

Bell County Order

  • Bell County met yesterday, and decided to remove the face mask requirement from their emergency order.

Nueces County Order

  • All commercial entities in Nueces County must develop a health & safety policy by June 22 that includes masks for all employees and visitors (some exceptions allowed). The order remains in effect until July 10.

Fort Bend County Order

City of Galveston

City of La Marque

City of Sugar Land

Tom Green County Order

  • All retail stores that have a posted occupancy load of 100 persons or more within Tom Green County, Texas shall require all customers 10 years or older and all employees to wear a mask or cloth that covers the mouth and nose while they are within the store or within 6 feet of a person from another household when they are outside the store and on store property.

City of Round Rock

  • All residents 10 years or older must wear a mask when inside a business or outdoors when 6 feet of social distancing is not possible. The order is in effect from July 1 through August 28.

City of Georgetown

  • All commercial entities in Georgetown must develop a health & safety policy by July 3 that includes masks for all employees and visitors (some exceptions allowed). The order remains in effect until the seven day infection rate drops below 7% for two consecutive weeks.

City of Hutto

  • All commercial entities in Hutto must develop a health & safety policy by July 1 that includes masks for all employees and visitors (some exceptions allowed).

City of Taylor

  • All commercial entities in Taylor must develop a health & safety policy by July 1 that includes masks for all employees and visitors (some exceptions allowed). The order remains in effect until the end of July otherwise noted.

City of Marble Falls

  • Effective Tuesday at 12 a.m., face coverings must be worn at all times by persons over the age of two years old in public places within the City of Marble Falls.

Quick Links

Open Texas Phases

Roll Back

June 26, 2020

  • Bars
    • All bars in Texas are required to close
    • They are allowed to do take-out and delivery (including alcoholic beverages)
  • Restaurants
    • All restaurants are to reduce indoor capacity to 50% (previously allowed at 75%)
  • Rafting & Tubing Businesses
    • Must Close
  • Outdoor Gatherings
    • Any gathering over 100 people must be approved by local government

Phase III

June 19, 2020

  • Amusement Parks/Carnivals
    • Counties with < 1,000 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 may open at 50% capacity.

June 12, 2020

  • Restaurants
    • Can expand to 75% capacity
  • Counties
    • Counties with >10 cases can expand all openings to 75%

June 3, 2020

  • Businesses
    • Can expand to 50% capacity
  • Bars/Wineries/Breweries
    • Can expand to 50% capacity (patrons must be seated)
  • Amusement Parks/Carnivals
    • Counties with >1,000 cases may open at 50% capacity
  • Restaurants
    • Can expand maximum table size from 6 to 10 persons

Phase II

May 31, 2020

  • Adult Recreational Sports
    • Practices only, games can’t resume until June 15th
    • No spectators allowed during practice (spectators can attend games after June 15th, with proper social distancing
  • Youth Camps
  • Youth Sports
    • Youth Sports Operators
    • Practices cannot have spectators, however, one parent/guardian is allowed
    • Games can be held with or without spectators, with 6-feet social distancing
  • Professional Sports Without In-Person Spectators
    • Includes: basketball, baseball, car racing, football, golf, softball, and tennis
    • Must apply for approval from DSHS
    • No Spectators Allowed

May 29, 2020

  • Water Parks
    • 25% occupancy limit
    • Video arcades within the park must remain closed

May 26, 2020

  • Driver’s Education Programs
    • 25% occupancy limit
    • 6-feet social distancing, except while driving
  • Shopping Mall Food-Courts
    • Limit of 6 people per table
    • 6 feet between tables
    • Cleaning and disinfecting after each customer
    • No condiments can be left on tables

May 22, 2020

May 18, 2020

  • Child Care Centers
    • All child care centers can reopen
    • Must implement social distancing strategies, intensify cleaning and disinfection, modify drop-off/pick-up, implement screening procedures (details in link above)
  • Massage and Personal-Care, Beauty Services
    • Includes: massage establishments, electrolysis, waxing, tattoo studios, piercing studios, and hair loss treatment services
    • 6-feet between work stations
  • Youth Clubs
    • Includes: Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, TOP Teens, FFA, etc.
    • Indoor meetings cannot be larger than 10 people
    • 6-feet social distancing

May 18, 2020

  • Gyms / Exercise Facilities 
    • 25% capacity
    • Locker rooms & showers remain closed
  • Manufacturers 
    • All non-CISA manufacturing facilities may operate up to 25% of the facility’s total listed occupancy
  • Office-Based Employers 
    • Offices may operate with up to the greater of 10 individuals or 25% of the total office workforce

May 8, 2020

Phase I

May 5, 2020

Governor Abbott Declarations

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City Declarations

Houston
City of Houston COVID-19 Updates

Dallas
City of Dallas COVID-19 Updates

San Antonio
City of San Antonio COVID-19 Updates

Austin
City of Austin COVID-19 Updates

Laredo
City of Laredo COVID-19 Updates

El Paso
City of El Paso COVID-19 Updates

Fort Worth
City of Fort Worth COVID-19 Updates

Arlington
City of Arlington COVID-19 Updates

McAllen
City of McAllen/Hidalgo County COVID-19 Updates

Corpus Christi
City of Corpus Christi COVID-19 Updates

Lubbock
City of Lubbock COVID-19 Updates

Bryan/College Station
Brazos County COVID-19 Updates

Waco
City of Waco COVID-19 Updates