Texas Governor Extends Social Distancing; Ignores Medical Pleas

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday extended social distancing guidelines to April 30 because of the coronavirus pandemic, but he decided not to issue a statewide stay-at-home order despite a plea from members of the state’s medical community.

“The Texas health care community is becoming increasingly concerned as Texas case counts continue to climb and frontline supplies continue to wane,” according to a letter signed by top officials at the Texas Hospital Association and Texas Nurses Association, which together represent 414,500 health-care professionals.

“The time has come for Texas to issue a statewide stay-at-home order. We urge you to implement this strict measure to prevent widespread illness in Texas.”

Among other things, Abbott’s order allows trips to the grocery store and medical appointments, as well as hunting and engaging in physical activities, “so long as the necessary precautions are maintained to reduce the transmission of Covid-19 and to minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household,” according to a news release from Abbott’s office. The order includes an exemption to attend religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship.

Abbott (R) said the order also defines 17 “essential critical infrastructure sectors,” including water and wastewater, energy, and food and agriculture. School classrooms will stay closed until May 4, he said at a news conference in Austin.

Meanwhile, Texas health authorities Tuesday afternoon reported an additional 389 cases of the virus, bringing the state’s total to 3,266. The state also reported three additional deaths from Covid-19—the disease caused by the virus. The new cases increased the state’s total coronavirus deaths to 41, according to Bloomberg data.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Stinson in Austin, Texas at pstinson@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tina May at tmay@bloomberglaw.com

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