iluna@valleytowncrier.com

TEXAS - The Lone Star state will be the first state in the U.S. to slowly “re-open” during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic starting Monday, April 20.

The announcement coming from Governor Greg Abbott on Friday, April, 17 startled many Texans but said, “By coming together, we can get Texans back to work, practice safety standards that will prevent the spread of COVID-19 and we can overcome this pandemic."

Under three Executive Orders made by Gov., Abbott, (GA-17, GA-16 and GA-15) the beginning of the “re-opening” phase revised hospital capacity, specific social distancing guidelines, select activities and services that “pose minimal to no threat of spreading COVID-19”, allows the re-opening of non-essential business to use a "Retail-To-Go" model and schools to remain closed for the 2019-2020 academic year.

The Strike Force to Open Texas—a team of nationally recognized medical experts and private and public leaders who advise the Governor on safety and strategic re-opening measures to the state of Texas, is established in every order.

“We have shown that Texas can continue our efforts to contain COVID-19 while also adopting safe standards that will allow us to begin the process of reopening Texas,” said Gov., Abbott. “The Strike Force to Open Texas brings together nationally recognized medical experts with public and private sector leaders to achieve this mission.”

Gov., Abbott’s Three Executive Orders include:

GA-17 First Executive Order: The Strike Force to Open Texas will safely and strategically restart and revitalize certain activities, businesses and others. The Strike Force will immediately begin providing input on potential additional openings of activities and services in Texas consistent with guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Governor will announce a revised plan for the state based on these initial recommendations on Monday, April 27.

GA-16 Second Executive Order: relates to the safe, strategic reopening of select services and activities in Texas. This order establishes a temporary "Retail-To-Go" model that will allow retail outlets in Texas to reopen beginning Friday, April 24. Under this model, reopened establishments are required to deliver items to customer's cars, homes, or other locations to minimize contact. (Only businesses that can follow the “retail-to-go” model of a curbside or delivery service, much like how the food industry is currently working like; will be allowed to re-open/operate with over-the-phone orders or online orders.)

Under this Executive Order, schools—including public, private, and higher education institutions—will remain closed for the 2019-2020 school year. Teachers may go into the classroom for video instruction, to perform administrative duties, and to clean out their classrooms.

GA-15 Third Executive Order: relates to hospital capacity and personal protective equipment (PPE) needed for the COVID-19 response. The order loosens restrictions on surgeries put in place by Governor Abbott in March. Beginning at 11:59 p.m. on April 21 through 11:59 p.m. on May 8, all licensed health care professionals and all licensed health care facilities must continue to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not medically necessary to diagnose or correct a serious medical condition of, or to preserve the life of, a patient who without a timely performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death as determined by a patient's physician. Exceptions now include:

· Any procedure that, if performed in accordance with the commonly accepted standard of clinical practice, would not deplete the hospital capacity or the PPE needed to cope with COVID-19, or · Any surgery or procedure performed in a licensed health care facility that has certified in writing to Texas HHSC both (1) that it will reserve at least 25% of its hospital capacity for treatment of COVID-19 patients, accounting for the range of clinical severity of COVID-19 patients, and (2) that it will not request any PPE from any public source—whether federal, state, or local—for the duration of the COVID-19 disaster. State parks are now open as of Monday, April 20 where visitors must continue to follow the six-foot distance rule from individuals outside of their party, wear face coverings and prohibits the gathering of groups larger than five to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

Governor Greg Abbott will announce a revised plan for the state based on these initial recommendations on Monday, April 27.

For the full Executive Order list signed by Gov., Abbott visit the link: https://gov.texas.gov/uploads/files/press/EO-GA-17_Open_Texas_Strike_Force_COVID-19_IMAGE_04-17-2020.pdf

For more information on the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas and team, visit the link: https://gov.texas.gov/organization/opentexas