COVID-19 Update – Governor Abbott Press Conference, 03/22/20

What: Texas COVID-19 Press Conference, 03/22/20 at 3pm

Who: Governor Greg Abbott, Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd, DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt

-Governor Abbott issued two new executive orders to expand capacity:
1) Directing all licensed health care professionals and facilities to postpone all surgeries/procedures that are elective and not medically necessary.
2) Suspending certain regulations to increase capacity of hospital rooms that are available. Hospitals will be able to treat more than one patient in a room, freeing up hospital beds across the state.
-43 counties in Texas have positive cases.
-State Dept. of Health Services website displays the number of CONFIRMED cases. You may see a different number shown in other places such as the Johns Hopkins website which includes PRESUMED positives as well.
-6 deaths from COVID-19 in Texas to date.

-On March 20, 2,335 people had been tested in Texas. As of the 21st, that number was over 6,400. As of this morning, 8700+ have been tested. Less than 10% of people that have been tested are positive. Many new facilities have recently opened for testing, and testing capabilities will continue to increase. Capabilities increased because Texas received more tests from the federal govt, but we still need much more. Feds are aware of our demand and they are ramping up their distribution of supplies.

-Waived regulations to address potential shortages of nurses.

-Working to maximize capacity for patients at hospitals (beds and staffing).

-Created a COVID-19 Strike Force focused on securing global supplies to immediately respond to the pandemic. Asking feds to accelerate production and supply of PPE and tests.

-Status of executive orders issued two days ago: For the most part, seeing good compliance. There are penalties for failure to comply including fines, jail time, and potential mandatory quarantine orders. These orders include:
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.

-This week, state will be setting up additional medical facilities in the event that they will be needed to treat patients.

-The National Guard will be deployed this week to help local hospitals.
-Chief Nim Kidd stressed that we need to be prepared, not panicked. No need for “panic-buying.”

-Dr. John Hellerstedt said the time that we will see a peak of cases in Texas depends on our ability to prevent the spread by following the executive orders. If we’re successful in following these orders, the peak may be weeks or even months away.

-Regarding whether schools will be closed for the duration of the school year, Governor Abbott stated it depends on whether there is success in containing the virus.

-Regarding whether stricter standards are coming, the Governor said it depends on our execution of current standards. If you don’t have an essential reason to leave your home, you shouldn’t be leaving. If people can abide by this, it will help stop the spread. If people do not comply, stricter standards will be needed.

-Regarding PPE: Like every state, Texas needs more PPE. Our capability of responding will be limited if we don’t have more PPE soon. Strongly urging the federal government to quickly increase production and acquisition. Texas is open to purchasing from anyone willing to sell PPE, but delivery dates in July will not work as we need PPE delivered ASAP. State is willing to purchase from anyone who can produce and deliver quickly.

View the press conference Here 

View details about the expansion of the nursing workforce HERE 

See Executive Order HERE