These weekly updates will provide the latest news and information on what our community, the state, and the federal government are doing as we face an unprecedented pandemic.
Temporary Pause on Reopening Texas
On June 26, 2020, Governor Abbott announced that bars will close on June 26 and that restaurants will return to operating at 50% capacity on June 29. Bars will be able to remain open for delivery and take-out. Rafting and tubing businesses must also close. Other businesses that are permitted to open under the previous phases can continue to operate at the designated occupancy levels and under the minimum standard health protocols provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services. The full order can be read here.
The governor has also put a temporary ban on elective surgeries in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties to ensure hospital bed availability for COVID-19 patients as Texas faces an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Under this order, the Governor directs all hospitals in these counties to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician. The full order can be read here.
Free Masks at State-Run COVID-19 Mobile Testing Sites
Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), in partnership with the Texas Military Department, will begin distributing 3-ply surgical masks to every Texan who undergoes COVID-19 testing at state-run mobile test collection sites. Beginning tomorrow, each Texan who receives a COVID-19 test at a state-run mobile testing site will be provided with four masks to take home with them. Texans can find a testing site near them by visiting the COVID-19 Test Collection Site map.
Extension on Required Telemedicine Insurance Coverage
In order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Texas Department of Insurance is extending the requirement that insurers cover telemedicine services in Texas, including mental health visits, at the same rate as in-person visits.
Spanish-Language COVID-19 PSA
The Office of the Governor and UT Southwestern Medical Center today released a new Spanish-language public service announcement on how Texans can protect themselves and others from COVID-19. In the PSA, Amneris Luque, MD, Professor of Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease and Geographic Medicine, advises Texans to wear a mask in public, avoid touching your face, wash your hands frequently and effectively, and practice social distancing. The PSA can be viewed here and a transcript of the video can be found here.
Pandemic EBTs due to COVID-19
Because of school closures from COVID-19, Texas received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide more than $1 billion in pandemic food benefits to families with children that have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals. Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) provides eligible families with a one-time payment for each child who previously received free or reduced-price meals. P-EBT works the same way Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits do and will help families get the food they need during the current pandemic. For more information about eligibility or to apply, go here.
Dallas County Elections Health Protocols for Voters
Early voting for the July 14th, 2020 election begins on June 29, 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important that you remain protected while voting. Dallas County poll locations will be equipped with sanitation stations, sanitized stylus for voting, and social distancing measures and markers. Dallas County will also provide curbside voting options for those exhibiting COVID symptoms or that are unable to enter polling locations. More information about voting options and safety precautions can be found here.