Gov. Abbott’s Actions During the Coronavirus Pandemic: What You Need to Know

Texas governor changes rules on health care, housing, education, elections and more

By Adrian Shelley and Michael Coleman

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has issued more than two dozen executive orders, waivers, declarations and proclamations since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus crisis a pandemic on March 11. Public Citizen’s Texas office is helping you keep track.

This accounting of Abbott’s executive actions – complete with web links and grouped according to subject – was compiled on March 23.

 Healthcare

  • Waiving insurance costs for coronavirus testing.
  • Allowing expanded hospital bed capacity.
  • Allowing pharmacies to conduct consultations over the phone and insurers to cover telemedicine care.
  • Waiving certain licensing requirements for nurses and out-of-state doctors.
  • Suspending inmate fees for health care services related to COVID-19.
  • Strengthening reporting capabilities to require all hospitals, excluding psychiatric hospitals, to submit daily reports on hospital bed capacity to DSHS who will share the info with the CDC.
  • Announcing federal grant to help Texas provide for senior citizen meals
  • The Texas Supreme Court has temporarily suspended residential evictions though April 19.

Education

  • Waiving STAAR standardized testing requirements for public schools.
  • Waiving regulations to allow continued funding for higher ed students in work study programs.

Elections

  • Primary runoffs postponed to July 14 (early voting begins July 8).
  • SD-14 special election postponed to July 14 (Sen. Kirk Watson resigned this seat).
  • Local elections allowed to be postponed to Nov. 3 if local administrators choose.

Drivers and Trucking

  • Closure of driver license offices and waiver of license expiration dates. This waiver will remain in effect until 60 days after the Department of Public Safety gives notice.
  • Waiver of certain vehicle registration, titling, and disability parking placard requirements.
  • Waiver of certain trucking regulations (including size/weight and certain registrations) to expedite goods delivery.

Alcohol and Hospitality

  • Allowing restaurants to deliver alcohol.
  • Allowing alcohol delivery directly to grocery stores.
  • Refunds for permits for businesses with event cancellations due to COVID-19.
  • Allowing restaurants to sell bulk retail product from distributors to the public.

Small Businesses

  • Allowing small business to apply to the federal Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.

Government

  • Allowing open meetings to occur virtually and by telephone.

Disaster Declarations and Executive Orders

  1. No social gatherings of 10+ people.
  2. Avoid bars, restaurants, food courts, gyms, massage parlous; drive-thru, pickup, and delivery ok.
  3. No nursing/retirement home visits.
  4. Schools closed.