Latest Coronavirus Updates, Efforts By Gov. Abbott, State Agencies For Wednesday, March 25

Governor Abbott Authorizes Restaurants To Sell Bulk Retail Product From Distributors To The Public

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott has directed the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to issue guidance allowing restaurants to sell bulk retail products from restaurant supply chain distributors directly to consumers provided that such foods are in their original condition, packaging, or presented as received by the restaurant.

Under this guidance, restaurants will be able to sell items like packaged meat, fruit and vegetables, and dry goods directly to the public to prepare and consume at home.

This guidance will allow distributors and restaurants to provide Texans another source of food outside of grocery stores and prepared food from restaurants.

These bulk food items would be available for purchase through restaurants offering drive-thru, delivery, pick-up, and curbside service.

“A vital part of our COVID-19 response is to ensure that there are readily available supplies of food and resources, whether that is at grocery stores or, in this case, restaurants,” said Governor Abbott. “This guidance gives Texans another easily accessible option to buy the food they need to support their families. The State of Texas continues to work with distributors, retailers, and restaurants to ensure they have the support they need to continue providing for Texans. I thank Representative Tan Parker, the Texas Restaurant Association, and the Department of State Health Services for their collaboration to take this important step to help Texas families as our state responds to COVID-19.”

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.

Governor Abbott Announces Increased PPE Supply, Issues Executive Order To Strengthen Reporting Capabilities

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today held a press conference to provide an update on incoming supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other resources to aid Texas’ response to COVID-19. The Governor announced that the newly established Supply Chain Strike Force has already secured more than $83 million of purchase orders for essential supplies.

Additionally, the Governor announced that the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) will begin receiving 100,000 masks per day by the end of this week and the Supply Chain Strike Force will begin receiving an additional 100,000 masks per day by the end of next week—meaning the State of Texas will soon be receiving more than one million masks per week.

The Governor also announced the launch of an online portal run by the Supply Chain Strike Force to streamline the process and validation of leads for more supplies.

The portal, accessible through www.texas.gov, will serve as an intake process for those wanting to provide valid leads on PPE and donations. The portal also serves as a portal for those wanting to donate supplies, services, or your time—including medical professionals and nurses looking to volunteer.

“The State of Texas is rapidly accelerating the purchasing and delivery of essential personal protection equipment and other supplies to aid in our COVID-19 response,” said Governor Abbott. “The Supply Chain Strike Force is working in concert with the Texas Division of Emergency Management to secure these vital resources and to swiftly distribute them to medical professionals, hospitals, and first responders in communities throughout the state. We thank all those who have already offered donations to meet our supply needs. I urge all Texans who would like to donate essential supplies and all medical professionals who are willing to volunteer their time and expertise to visit www.texas.gov to find out how they can help.”

The Governor also issued an Executive Order to better track both hospital bed capacity and COVID-19 test results across the state. The Executive Order requires all hospitals, excluding psychiatric hospitals, to submit daily reports on hospital bed capacity to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) who will then share this information with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The order also requires every public or private entity utilizing FDA-approved COVID-19 tests to submit daily reports of all results to the local health department and DSHS who will then share this information with the CDC.

The Governor was joined at the press conference by:

  • John Hellerstedt, MD, Commissioner, DSHS
  • Nim Kidd, Chief, TDEM
  • Luis Rios, MD, President, Texas Society of Plastic Surgeons
  • Raymond Risk, CEO and President, Texas Construction Association
  • David Fleeger, MD, President, Texas Medical Association
  • Mahlon Kerr, MD, President, Austin Society of Plastic Surgeons
  • Kenneth Shaffer, MD, President/Governor, Texas Chapter of American College of Cardiology
  • David Yu, DDS, MS, Member, Texas Society of Periodontists

View the Governor’s Executive Order.

Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order To Strengthen Reporting Capabilities

Yesterday, Governor Greg Abbott signed an Executive Order that requires all hospitals, excluding psychiatric hospitals, to submit daily reports on hospital bed capacity to the Texas DSHS who will then share this information with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The U.S. Vice President, Mike Pence recently requested that all states step-up their daily reporting crucial pieces of information to the CDC.

Abbott’s order states “All hospitals licensed under Chapter 241 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, and all Texas state-run hospitals, except for psychiatric hospitals, shall submit to DSHS daily reports of hospital bed capacity, in the manner prescribed by DSHS.  DSHS shall promptly share this information with the CDC.”

“Every public or private entity that is utilizing an FDA-approved test, including an emergency use authorization test, for human diagnostic purposes of COVID-19, shall submit to DSHS, as well as to the local health department, daily reports of all test results, both positive and negative.  DSHS shall promptly share this information with the CDC.”

To read Governor Abbott’s executive order visit https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-issues-executive-order-to-strengthen-reporting-capabilities.

TDLR Waiving Requirements For Some Licensees

AUSTIN – To help keep its licensees ready and available to assist with combatting the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) is taking the following actions:

  • Waiving continuing education requirements for all licenses expiring in March, April, and May 2020. Licensees will still submit their renewal applications, pay the required fees, and have their criminal histories checked but they will not need complete any required continuing education requirements this licensing cycle.
  • Allowing Speech-Language Pathologist and Audiologist interns to receive credit for supervised hours when they have “tele-supervision” and waiving time limits on the number of supervised hours the interns can complete. Allowing remote supervision will enable students to continue earning credits and allow their patients to continue receiving important therapies.
  • Extending by 60 days all building inspection deadlines in the Elimination of Architectural Barriers Program for any inspections due in March, April, and May to help business owners and licensees who may be struggling to have buildings inspected during this time and allow buildings to be used in case they are needed immediately as part of the COVID-19 response.
  • Extending inspection times for Boilers and Elevators with permits that expire in March, April, and May. Hospitals and other medical facilities will see increased demand in the coming weeks. Temporarily extending required inspections for boilers and elevators will allow healthcare operations to continue. TDLR investigators will respond in case of an accident or emergency.

TDLR provides regulatory oversight for a broad range of occupations, businesses, facilities, and equipment in Texas.

The agency protects the health and safety of Texans by ensuring they are served by qualified, licensed professionals. Inspections of individuals, businesses, and equipment are done on a regular basis to safeguard the public. Currently, the agency regulates 39 business and occupational licensing programs with more than 1,000,000 licensees across the state.

Visit TDLR’s website for more information and resources. You can search the TDLR licensee database, and also find past violations in which a final order was issued against companies or individuals. TDLR’s Customer Service line is available anytime between 7 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 1-800-803-9202. TDLR representatives are fluent in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

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