TEXAS — Governor Abbott gave an update on COVID-19 during a press briefing on Tuesday.
He wanted to make clarifications and modifications to his executive order.
For funerals, burials, weddings, he said it classifies as church-type gatherings.
He said that in these cases, he strongly encourages at-risk populations to participate remotely. He said that about 75 percent of Texas deaths are due to those contracting being 65 or older.
In the update, he also said that he recommends that businesses create a designated section for those who are vulnerable and alternate rows of seating.
Weddings held indoors other than at a church, congregation, or house of worship must limit occupancy to 25%. Wedding reception services may also resume, but facilities must limit their occupancy to 25% of the total listed occupancy. These occupancy limits do not apply to the outdoor areas of a wedding reception or to outdoor wedding receptions.
Beaches, lakes and rivers should be treated with the same standard as parks. He said this mean keep 6 feet apart from households.
He also clarified that outside seating should follow social distancing guidelines at restaurants.
As for barbershops, hair salons, and similar services, they are allowed to open on May 8. Both parties must wear face masks and follow social distancing guidelines.
Cosmetology salons, hair salons, barber shops, nail salons and shops, and other establishments where licensed cosmetologists or barbers practice their trade, may open, but all such salons, shops, and establishments must ensure at least six feet of social distancing between operating work stations.
Tanning salons may also reopen under the same limitation.
Also starting May 8, swimming pools may open subject to certain limitations, including on their occupancy or operating levels
Gyms and exercise facilities can open May 18. Showers and locker rooms must remained closed. All equipment must be disinfected after each use, and customers should use gloves and remain 6 feet apart. They must operate at 25% occupancy.
If customers bring in equipment, they must clean and disinfect personal equipment before and after use.
The Texas government is still looking at best ways to open up bars.
On May 18, offices that are in buildings can start opening as well. He said this is to make sure businesses can get janitorial services up and going. Office buildings may open with the greater of five or less individuals or 25% of the total office workforce. These individuals must maintain appropriate social distancing. Non-essential manufacturing services may also open on May 18 but facilities must limit their occupancy to 25%.
He said 25 percent of workforce can return if social distancing guidelines are followed.
TEA is publishing guidance later for graduations to occur in schools under certain constraints. They said that they are encouraging virtual ceremonies and drive through graduations.
They are also encouraging outdoor ceremonies with appropriate distancing.
The federal government also recommends schools starting earlier in the summer to allow for a longer winter break.
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They also provided an update on PPE purchased by the state.
The state said 20 percent of Texas elderly facilities have had a person test positive. He said the newly created surge teams will be going into nursing facilities. These teams will be dealing with hospital preparedness programs.
He said the number of testing has continued to ramp up, although we aren't "there yet." However, he said the number of positive tests are going up thanks to the work from the National Guard.
Due to this, he said rural communities are getting must needed testing thanks to the testing centers provided by the National Guard. Abbott said the number of tests doubled in the last two weeks.
Of those tests, only 4.65 percent tested positive. He said the point of this is that 95 percent of tests come back negative.
In addition, the CDC said they will send 750,000 collective swabs to Texas between now and June 1.
The governor said that 16,791 Texans have recovered from COVID-19. For the 4th day in a row, Texas has had more recoveries in relation to positive cases.
He also said 19,000 hospital beds and 2,000 ICU beds are currently available.