Latest Coronavirus Updates, Efforts By Gov. Abbott, State Agencies For Friday, March 27

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State and federal officials are working to keep residents informed as they continue working to protect Americans from Coronavirus.

According to the Center for Disease Control, coronaviruses are common throughout the world and can infect people and animals.

The World Health Organization has now qualified the coronavirus as an international pandemic. And says the large family of viruses can cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe conditions.

A novel coronavirus is a new strain and has not been previously identified in humans.

Like the flu, people with severe chronic medical conditions and who are over the age of sixty are at a higher risk of getting sick and developing more severe conditions.

Federal and state officials are working continuously to ensure outbreaks do not occur in U.S. communities.

The following updates are only intended to keep Texas communities informed.

 


NOT ONLY FOR YOUR PROTECTION BUT FOR THE
SAFETY
OF OTHER, PLEASE FOLLOW THESE GUIDELINES


  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order Mandating 14-Day Quarantine For Travelers Arriving From New York Tri-State Area, New Orleans

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today held a press conference at the State Capitol where he issued an Executive Order mandating a self-quarantine of 14 days for individuals traveling to Texas as their final destination through an airport from the Tri-State Area of New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut as well as the city of New Orleans, Louisiana.

This Executive Order is consistent with the guidance of Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and will be enforced by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).

During this period, a quarantined person shall not allow visitors into or out of the designated quarantine location, other than a physician or healthcare provider, and cannot visit any public spaces.

These mandatory self-quarantines will last a period of 14 days or for the duration of a person’s presence in Texas, whichever is shorter.

“The State of Texas continues to act upon the recommendations of top state, federal, and local health experts as we implement a comprehensive strategy to limit the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Abbott. “The New York Tri-State Area and the City of New Orleans have become major centers of this pandemic, and it is vital that we take necessary precautions to prevent additional exposure that could originate from people traveling from these areas to Texas. This Executive Order is another important measure we are taking to protect the health and safety of Texans, and we will continue to take any action necessary to mitigate exposure to COVID-19 in our state.” 

Those entering Texas as their final destination from the designated areas will use a form from DPS to designate their quarantine location. DPS special agents will conduct unannounced visits to designated quarantine locations to verify compliance.

Failure to comply with this order is considered a criminal offense that is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine, up to 180 days in jail, or both.

This order to self-quarantine shall not apply to people traveling in connection with military service, emergency response, health response, or critical-infrastructure functions, as may be determined by the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM).

This Executive Order will remain in effect and in full force until modified, amended, rescinded, or superseded by the Governor.

The Governor was joined for the press conference by Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, and TDEM Chief Nim Kidd.

View the Governor’s Executive Order.

Governor Abbott Announces HHSC Request Of 1135 Medicaid Waiver

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has submitted a Section 1135 Medicaid Waiver to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS).

If approved, this would grant Texas flexibility in administering Medicaid while the state continues to respond to COVID-19.

“The flexibilities we are requesting will help ensure Texans on Medicaid continue to have their routine needs met, even as the state responds to COVID-19,” said Governor Abbott. “I ask CMS to grant this waiver so that we can expand care capacity for Texans who utilize services through Medicaid.”

If approved, the federal flexibilities would include the following

  • Temporarily extending existing prior authorizations for services so that Texans can get the care they need without delay.
  • Extending deadlines for state fair hearings and appeals.
  • Allowing services to be performed by telehealth, telemedicine, or telephonic contact.
  • Extending current medical necessity, service authorizations, and level of care authorizations for Medicaid programs.
  • Allowing the state to waive any requirements that require the signature of a physician, durable medical equipment provider, or Medicaid recipient.
  • Streamlining provider enrollment for out-of-state and new providers to increase the number of providers in Texas, which will ensure continued access to care.
  • Waiving requirements that health care professionals be licensed in the state in which they are providing services, so long as they have equivalent licensing in another state.

HHSC will also be seeking additional regulatory flexibilities through the Section 1135 Medicaid waiver related to federal requirements for long-term care providers, intermediate care facilities, home, and community-based services programs, and hospitals.

If granted, this Section 1135 Medicaid waiver flexibilities would remain in place for as long as necessary during the public health emergency.

DPS Limits Public Access to Buildings Due to COVID-19, Business Operations Still Remain Open

AUSTIN – In response to COVID-19, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is limiting public access to department facilities to protect the public and employees, promote social distancing, and do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Despite limited physical access to their buildings, DPS remains open for business and continues to provide essential services to Texans as their employees conduct operations remotely; therefore, the public should experience minimal impact from this temporary change.

The department encourages the public to contact them by phone or email and utilize online services when available. Resources for how to contact the department and the latest information surrounding the COVID-19 response can be found on their website at www.dps.texas.gov.

Updates to Services Provided in Light of Covid-19 Closures

Driver License Services: Last week, DPS was directed to extend the expiration date of Texas identification cards (ID), driver licenses (DL), commercial DLs (CDL), an election identification certificates (EIC), as well as close DL offices.

The temporary closure does not impact those seeking an initial CDL. Please contact the DL team for CDL appointment information.

Extensions for Texas ID cards, DL, CDL, and EIC cards that expire on or after March 13, 2020, will remain valid until the State of Disaster Declaration is lifted and will stay valid for 60 days after the declaration has been lifted.

Many Texans are eligible to conduct their DL transactions online. Applicants are encouraged to check their eligibility.

For more information about DL services and possible impacts related to COVID-19, please visit www.dps.texas.gov/director_staff

Fingerprint Applicant Services of Texas (FAST)

While many FAST locations remain open and continue to take appointments, some FAST sites are housed in facilities that have been closed by local authorities.

The FAST location at 108 Denson Drive in Austin will not accept walk-ins at this point; however, they will be facilitating appointments only.

Regulatory Services

If an individual is applying for or renewing a License to Carry (LTC) permit or a Private Security License, DPS continues to operate their regulatory services as normal.

However, it is essential to note that some of the required components for these types of licenses come from the private sector (for example, FAST fingerprinting services, LTC training courses), which are outside of their control. If you have questions regarding these services, contact our Regulatory Services team.

For additional information related to DPS’s response to COVID-19, visit the Texas DPS at their at https://www.dps.texas.gov/COVID19/Info.

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