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Texas governor mandates quarantine for out-of-state travelers, bans release of ‘violent’ inmates, expands hospital capacity

Texas National Guard troops deployed to help enforce local orders, support health care

AUSTIN, TexasUPDATED March 29, 2020, at 4:45 p.m.:

Governor Greg Abbott on Sunday provided new figures for COVID-19 cases and hospital capacity in Texas and issued new executive orders, including a mandating two-week quarantine for out-of-state travelers, as the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic grows.

At a press conference Sunday afternoon from the state Capitol, Abbott listed the following statistics as the latest available in Texas:

  • 25,483 people have been tested in Texas for COVID-19
  • 2,552 were confirmed positive
  • 34 people have died after contracting the new virus
  • 118 of 254 counties have reported cases
  • 176 patients have been hospitalized

RELATED: Map: Track COVID-19 cases in Texas, county-by-county updates

Abbott said less than 10% of people tested for the virus actually have it and less than 10% infected patients end up needing hospitalization.

The governor also updated one of his executive orders Sunday to require a two-week quarantine for more out-of-state travelers. People coming into the state of Texas from Miami, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; the states of California, Louisiana and Washington will be required to undergo a two-week quarantine, enforced by Department of Public Safety troopers.

Previously, people who traveled into the state by plane from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut or New Orleans were required to quarantine for two weeks after arriving, and DPS troopers were enforcing the mandate.

The travel restrictions “will not apply to travel related to commercial activity, military service, emergency response, health response, or critical infrastructure functions,” said a statement from Abbott’s office.

Hospital capacity

The number of hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients in Texas has more than doubled in the past week, he said. As of March 26, there are more than 16,000 beds available for potential patients, Abbott said.

In a press release sent by the governor’s office, Abbott “detailed the joint effort between the state, the Texas Military Department, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to identify and equip additional locations to serve as health care facilities in the event that hospital capacity is exhausted. The first of these sites will be the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas.” The convention center could house more than 250 beds for potential patients, he said.

“While hospitals will remain the primary location to treat and care for those in need, we are ensuring that Texas is prepared for any possible scenario in which current hospital capacity is exhausted,” Abbott said.

The governor also issued a new executive order that “prohibit(s) release of individuals in custody for or with a history of offenses involving physical violence or the threat of physical violence” in “municipal or county jails.”

In Bexar County, the sheriff has worked with the district attorney to limit the number of people accused of nonviolent offenses in custody at the jail in an effort to prevent spreading the disease. On Sunday, the sheriff’s office announced a county employee who works in the video visitation department had tested positive.

Texas Adjutant Gen. Tracy Norris said three brigades of state national guard troops have been deployed across the state to help enforce local orders and help with medical efforts like testing.

“You will begin to see [uniformed] personnel in your community,” Norris said.

Abbott was also joined at the Texas Capitol in Austin by the Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, and Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd.

We’ll bring more updates as they become available.

Original:

Governor Greg Abbott is giving an update on the COVID-19 response in the state of Texas.

The governor will speak at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, March 29 at the State Capitol. We will be streaming the update live on the player above, on KSAT 12 and on our KSAT streaming app.

As of Sunday morning, more than 2,500 COVID-19 cases and 34 deaths have been reported in Texas.

RELATED: Map: Track COVID-19 cases in Texas, county-by-county updates

Abbott will be accompanied by the Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, and Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd.

We’ll bring more updates as they become available.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.

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