AUSTIN, TX (KCBD) - Texas Governor Greg Abbott will be issuing a new executive order on Thursday, requiring people from the New York tri-state area and the city of New Orleans into a mandatory quarantine for 14 days or until the end of their visit in the state, administered by Texas DPS.
All visitors arriving by plane from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut or New Orleans must quarantine. Nothing in this order applies to travel by roadway.
Failing to obey this quarantine will be considered a criminal act, punishable by a $1,000 fine or 180 days in jail.
Abbott said this quarantine may be expanded to cover visitors from California and Washington State in the future, but these are not considered quarantine states at this time.
Gov. Abbott acknowledged the strong desire that Texans have to get back to work, but he said they were going to act on "the best advice of medical professionals.”
“We wouldn’t want to suddenly open schools and businesses only to have to shut them down again.”
Abbott said he expected the recovery to happen gradually, allowing certain workers to go back to work, allow others to go back to work and then monitor their health status, but he said “it’s way too early to tell right now.”
The governor announced this in a news conference on Thursday, joined by Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, and Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd.
Gov. Abbott said testing in Texas has exceeded expectations. Last Friday they had tested 2,335 people. Six days later, Texas has tested more than 21,000.
“The more people we test, the more people will test positive,” Abbott said. “This is what we want to achieve.”
Last Friday, 97 people in Texas had tested positive for COVID-19. Today, with increased testing, 1,424 people have tested positive.
“Less than 10 percent of people who are tested for COVID-19 test positive,” Abbott said.
Last Friday, Texas had reported five deaths from COVID-19. Today there are 18 deaths.
Last Friday there were 39 counties were COVID-19 had been identified. Today there are 90.
As of today, we have 100 patients in Texas hospitals with COVID-19.
Gov. Abbott says, “Less than 10 percent of people who test positive need to be in a hospital at this time.”
Abbott said their goal is to see those numbers grow as testing continues and then see them leveling off as Texans continue to practice social distancing and other precautions.
Abbott praised county and local officials for their efforts to take precautions and increase testing, along with the many businesses and private entities who have demonstrated safe practices.
Abbott praised the many Texans contributing time, material, and monetary donations to help others “in quintessential Texas fashion.”
Abbott said, “We are incredibly grateful to our medical personnel who are on the front line of this war against the spread of this disease.”
Gov. Abbott said Texas is currently collecting information about the number of ventilators available in Texas hospitals and is working to prepare for the worst case.
Abbott said anyone who wants to sell or donate supplies or to offer their medical services go to www.texas.gov/covid19.
The governor said Texas has freed up more than 3,000 hospital beds and they are still working on increasing bed capacity.
The president granted a major disaster declaration for Texas on Wednesday, freeing up resources for state and local jurisdictions. Gov. Abbott said the federal government is prioritizing distribution of supplies to states with the highest number of deaths. Texas is currently 11th or 12th on that list.