Texas issues disaster declaration over coronavirus outbreak

by | Mar 13, 2020 | Coronavirus, Policy

On Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott declared a statewide public health disaster over the coronavirus outbreak.

The declaration comes after the total number of confirmed cases in the state has reached 39 and following a series of major event cancelations as well as work stoppages that have brought the seriousness of the pandemic into scope. 

During a press conference announcing the disaster declaration, Abbott said drive-thru testing for the virus has already begun in San Antonio and will also soon be available in other areas. The governor said that so far, only 220 Texans have been tested for the virus. He said testing capacity in the coming weeks is expected to increase and will be able to handle thousands of tests.

Despite Texas’ escalation in dealing with the coronavirus, it’s unclear how well the state will fair in comparison to others. Already, Texas Democrats have blasted the governor for underinvesting in healthcare and for creating conditions that have made Texas the most uninsured state in the nation.

“Let’s be clear, the Texas government was ill-prepared for this disaster, luckily local and county governments stepped up to solve the challenge,” Manny Garcia, Texas Democratic Party Executive Director, told the Signal in a statement.

“While declaring a state disaster is a start, it’s not nearly enough to solve the healthcare crisis in this state,” Garcia continued. “We need to expand access to healthcare and create a system where those who are sick can get the testing they need to keep us all safe. Texans need leaders who will take bold action to stop the spread of the coronavirus and protect their economic future.”

In Congress, Democrats are united in pushing for paid sick leave, extended unemployment insurance, and food assistance to help Americans weather the outbreak, which was recently declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Senate Republicans have so far blocked legislation that would usher in those temporary reforms. 

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at fernando@texassignal.com

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