Latest Coronavirus Updates, Efforts By Gov. Abbott, State Agencies For Thursday, March 26


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.



  • 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 Requests Release of Federal Unemployment Funds

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced his request for access to interest-free federal loans (known as Title XII funds) to pay unemployment claims and the accelerated release of funds from the Texas account of the federal Unemployment Trust Fund.

Title XII is a federal process that allows states to receives advances (loans) from the federal government to continue to cover Unemployment Benefit payments without disruption.

In a request letter to Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, Governor Abbott authorized the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) to officially request access to these additional funds.

“As job loss and other economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic grow, we are committed to drawing upon all available resources to help Texas hardest hit by the crisis,” said Governor Abbott. “With claims on the rise, our current balance of unemployment funds is projected to run out by the end of next month, so we must accelerate the delivery of necessary dollars.”

The Department of Labor approval would allow Texas to apply for federal loans that would be interest-free through the end of the current calendar year. In the past, TWC has taken such loans then issued bonds to pay them off. In every case, the agency has never missed making a payment to an eligible claimant.

“The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is committed to ensuring all Texans who are eligible receive unemployment funds,” said Bryan Daniel, chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission. “This approach, which has served Texas well during hurricane recovery and the recession of 2008, should do so again.”

View Governor Abbott’s letter.

Governor Abbott, HHSC Send Letter Seeking Permission For SNAP Recipients To Use Their Benefits At Take-Out And Drive-Thru Restaurants

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission sent a letter yesterday to the United States Department of Agriculture seeking permission to allow Texas Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to use their benefits at take-out and drive-thru restaurants throughout the state as Texas continues to combat COVID-19.

If approved, it would open up another food source for 3.2 million Texans.

“As we continue in our efforts to combat COVID-19, the state must do everything it can to make life more manageable for citizens and ensure that Texans can provide meals for their families,” said Governor Abbott. “This waiver will go a long way in doing just that. I urge the federal government to quickly approve this waiver, giving Texans another food option during this public health emergency.”

View the letter.

Governor Abbott Announces Approval Of Major Disaster Declaration

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today released a statement thanking President Trump for issuing a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of Texas.

This announcement comes after the Governor requested the declaration—citing the need for additional federal assistance to save lives, to protect property, public health, and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of COVID-19.

“Texas is aggressively pursuing and implementing all necessary strategies to limit the impact of COVID-19, and I thank President Trump for his swift action to issue a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of Texas,” said Governor Abbott. “The President’s declaration opens up new sources of funding for individual and public assistance that will help Texas respond to this public health emergency and protect public health and safety.”

Governor Abbott Takes Action To Expand Texas Hospital Capacity

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today has temporarily waived certain hospital licensing rules and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has adopted an emergency rule to meet Texas’ need for additional hospital capacity while the state responds to COVID-19.

These actions allow for certain facilities that have pending licenses or facilities that have been closed for no more than 36 months to come online under existing hospital building licenses. These facilities will be administered and operated by hospitals with existing licenses.

The waivers also remove certain mileage restrictions which will allow hospitals to operate additional facilities that are more than 30 miles away from the main licensed hospital.

“One of our top objectives is to ensure that COVID-19 patients in Texas who need a hospital bed will have access to a bed,” said Governor Abbott. “There are healthcare facilities across the state that have either recently closed or have yet to receive a license but are otherwise ideal locations to aid in our COVID-19 response. By waiving these rules, we can quickly bring many of these facilities online to help Texas communities maximize their hospital capacity and provide care to Texans in need.”

Additionally, Governor Abbott has directed HHSC to waive certain regulatory requirements regarding facility license renewals.

These waivers will allow general, special, and psychiatric hospitals, free-standing emergency medical facilities, and end-stage renal facilities to renew their license without submitting a fire marshal’s report. The facilities will still be required to update their records at a later date.

Governor Abbott Waives Certain Licensing Renewal Regulations, Fees For Nurses

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott has waived certain regulations from the Texas Board of Nursing regarding licensing renewal and subsequent fees for nurses in Texas.

The Governor’s waiver authorizes a six-month grace period for nurses with expired licenses.

This grace period will allow nurses who are otherwise in good standing to continue practicing and will give them additional time to renew their licenses without added fees and penalties. 

“Nurses are essential to protecting the public health and safety of our communities as we combat the COVID-19 virus,” said Governor Abbott. “With these temporary waivers, nurses in Texas can continue caring for patients without worrying about potential delays or barriers imposed by the licensing renewal process. We are grateful for the nurses serving throughout our state, and Texas are committed to ensuring they have the resources and support they need to do their jobs as we face this public health emergency.”

Governor Abbott Announces Federal Grant for Senior Citizen Meals

Governor Greg Abbott today announced that Texas has received a $16.2 million grant from the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration for Community Living (ACL) to help communities provide meals for older adults.

The grant was part of a $250 million dollar outlay authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020.

Originally created by the Older Americans Act (OAA) of 1965, these programs provide meals to more than 2.4 million older adults nationwide each year, both through home delivery and in places like community centers.

“This grant is especially timely given the disproportionately high toll that COVID-19 has been taking on seniors around the world,” said Governor Abbott. “As social distancing measures increasingly and appropriately limit people’s social mobility, it is imperative that alternate means for feeding our state’s elderly like Meals on Wheels receive additional resources to handle the growing need.”

Texas will receive its proportional grant, $16,205,796, second only to California ($25 million) and Florida ($18 million) this week for further distribution to local meal providers.

Older adults who need assistance can contact the Eldercare Locator to find services available in their community.

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