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Governor Announces New Executive Orders For The “Strike Force To Open Texas”

State Representative Gary VanDeaver

From District 1 State Representative Gary VanDeaver

Governor Greg Abbott announced plans on April 17, to strategically reopen the state over the next few weeks while expanding efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Texas. The governor said reopening decisions would be driven by science and data to ensure the safety of all Texans. He announced the creation of the “Statewide Strike Force to Open Texas” that will be chaired by Mr. James Huffines, Dallas, who served as the chairman of theUniversity of Texas System Board of Regents.

A committee of three Chief Medical Advisors, including a former member of the state House of Representatives, Dr. John Zerrwas will aide Chairman Huffines and the Strike Force. Dr. Zerwas now serves as the Executive Vice-Chancellor for Health Affairs at the University of Texas System. Former US Food & Drug Administration Commissioner will join Dr. Zerwas. Also, US Medicaid and Medicare Administrator, Mark McClellan, MD & Ph.D.; and Parker Hudson, MD & MPH, who is an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the Dell Medical School in Austin. This medical advisory team will work with a Special Advisory Council that is made up of business leaders from across the state to develop strategies to reopen the state’s businesses and restart our economy. 

On April 27, the governor will announce new plans to move the state forward after considering input from these groups. Business re-openings. The governor said that as of April 24, all retail businesses would use a temporary “Retail to Go” model while adhering to enhanced cleaning strategies and maintaining social distancing. If there isn’t a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, more businesses

could reopen in May. These openings will depend on enhanced testing capabilities with the ability to detect what is happening with any spread or resurgence of the virus.

Medical procedures and non-essential surgeries. 

The governor also said that as of April 22 and through May 8, his executive order would loosen the restrictions initially placed on doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers. It would eliminate non-essential surgeries and procedures, which has caused undue hardships on the medical profession while delaying treatments for patients. These new exceptions allow performing these procedures if they do not deplete the supply of personal protective equipment (PPEs). Also, the facility has certified in writing that it will reserve at least 25 percent of its capacity to treat COVID-19 patients and that it will not request any more PPEs. At the same time, it was enhancing standards to ensure the safety of residents in nursing homes and living centers.

State Parks

On April 20, the governor is reopening state parks as long as people use masks, practice social distancing by staying at least six feet apart from each other and limit groups to no more than five.