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Governor takes actions to slow down deadly virus

AUSTIN — Texas is more invested every day in promoting increased and thorough hand washing, disinfecting surfaces and social distancing to reduce cases of the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus, COVID-19. As of March 22, the cumulative count of patients testing positive in Texas increased to 334. The death count stood at five with 8,756 people having been tested, according to figures posted by the Texas Department of State Health Services. As the work week began, Gov. Greg Abbott was still not ready to order all Texans to stay at home, as local authorities ordered in Dallas County. However, he issued four statewide executive orders in accordance with federal guidelines issued by President Trump and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: —Every person in Texas shall avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people; —People shall avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants and food courts or visiting gyms or massage parlors — provided, however, that drive-thru, pickup or delivery options are allowed and highly encouraged throughout the limited duration of the executive order; — People shall not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance; and — Schools shall temporarily close. Abbott's orders, effective Abbott's orders, effective through 11:59 p.m. on April 3, are subject to extension. Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt also declared a public health disaster last week. Hellerstedt's declaration allows state and local health authorities to more easily require property owners to disinfect, decontaminate, and seal off property that might be contaminated by COVID-19. The declaration also: — Authorizes health authorities to take control measures to eradicate the threat to public health; —Streamlines the process for health authorities to invoke the courts to enforce quarantines of individuals; and — Activates enhanced tools for DSHS to collect disease and health information and to share that information with law enforcement personnel and first responders, as appropriate. Governor activates Guard Gov. Abbott on March 17 activated the Texas National Guard to be prepared to assist with response efforts for COVID-19, ensuring that the military force can assist in various forms throughout the state when needed. Healthcare workers and first responders who are members of the Texas National Guard are excluded from this activation so that they can continue serving the people of Texas in their respective fields, Abbott said. SBA assistance requested Gov. Abbott on March 17 requested designation from the Small Business Administration to access the federal agency’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program for ...

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