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Abbott expands travel restrictions, stops dangerous criminals from being released during pandemic

Gov. Greg Abbott pardons Central Texan
Posted at 3:06 PM, Mar 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 18:00:07-04

AUSTIN, TX — Gov. Greg Abbott held a press conference on Sunday from the State Capitol to issue additional executive orders, and provide an update on hospital capacity in Texas.

Gov. Abbott expanded a previous executive order requiring people flying into Texas from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Orleans to be quarantined for 14 days or for the duration of their stay, whichever is shorter.

The order now also includes anyone traveling by road into Texas from any location in the state of Louisiana, as well as anyone flying into Texas from Miami, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, California or Washington.

This mandated quarantine will not apply to travel related to commercial activity, military service, emergency response, health response, or critical infrastructure functions.

The restrictions will be enforced by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

In the second Executive Order announced today, the Governor prohibited the release of individuals in custody for or with a history of offenses involving physical violence or the threat of physical violence. This Executive Order comes in response to concerns of the release or anticipated release of individuals because of COVID-19 who are deemed a danger to society.

The Governor detailed the joint effort between the state, the Texas Military Department (TMD), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to identify and equip additional locations to serve as health care facilities in the event that hospital capacity is exhausted.

Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas will be the first of these sites to become available if hospital capacity overflows in the coming weeks.

There are 250 beds available at the Convention Center with plenty of room to expand the number if needed.

Abbott says kits are ready to be set-up, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is actively looking for more locations to set up in Texas.

"While hospitals will remain the primary location to treat and care for those in need, we are ensuring that Texas is prepared for any possible scenario in which current hospital capacity is exhausted," said Governor Abbott. "This joint initiative with the Texas Military Department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will expand the care capacity in communities across Texas."

Abbott thanked nurse and healthcare providers on the front line in the war against COVID-19 during the press conference.

"Our job is not to make assessments where we are today, looking 1, 2, 3, 4 weeks ahead if COVID-19 continues to increase," Abbott said.

Abbott also said Texas has increased the amount of testing this past week by %1,000.

25,483 Texans have been tested, 2,552 are confirmed positive, 176 people are in hospitals. 34 fatalities have been reported that have a connection to COVID-19.

According to Gov. Abbott, less than %10 of people who are tested have COVID-19.

State officials also analyzed the amount of hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients in the state.

As of March 26, 16,000 beds became available for COVID-19 patients, more than double from the week before.

Texas does have the hospital capacity to treat COVID-19 today the Gov. said, but he wants to look weeks ahead for communities and make sure they are capable of accommodating patients.

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On April 27, the Governor issued an Executive Order (GA-20) to eliminate the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for individuals traveling from Louisiana. Under GA-20, the mandated 14-day quarantine for travelers from the following areas remains in place: California; Connecticut; New York; New Jersey; Washington; Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan, and Miami, Florida.