Governor Abbott expands capacity for certain services in Texas, announces guidance for nursing home, long-term care visitations

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courtesy of the Governor Abbott’s office

AUSTIN, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference today to update citizens on Texas’ ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19.

During the conference, Abbott issued Executive Orders expanding occupancy levels to 75% from 50% on Sept. 21 for;

  • Restaurants
  • Retail stores
  • Office buildings
  • Manufacturing facilities
  • Gyms and exercise facilities / classes
  • Museums
  • Libraries

Abbott also re-authorized elective surgeries for the majority of Texas. The Governor also announced new guidance related to visitations at nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the state.

The Governor also introduced metrics used by doctors and medical experts to help guide the state’s ongoing efforts to contain COVID-19 and expand occupancy for businesses and services. This metric focuses on areas with high amounts of hospitalizations – referring to any Trauma Service Area (TSA) that has had seven consecutive days with the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients exceeds 15%.

After seven consecutive days in which this rate in lower than 15%, the area may be eligible to follow the new expanded guidelines.

Currently using this metric, 19 of the 22 TSAs in Texas qualify to increase occupancy levels as previously explained. The three TSAs that do NOT currently qualify include the following counties;

  • Calhoun
  • DeWitt
  • Goliad
  • Jackson
  • Lavaca
  • Victoria
  • Jim Hogg
  • Webb
  • Zapata
  • Cameron
  • Hidalgo
  • Starr
  • and Willacy

“With the medical advancements we have made and the personal hygiene practices we have adopted, Texans have shown that we can address both the health and safety concerns of COVID-19 while also taking careful, measured steps to restore the livelihoods that Texans depend on,” said Governor Abbott, “Achieving both goals requires safe standards that contain COVID-10, emphasize protecting the most vulnerable, and establish clear metrics that the public can depend on. That is why today we have announced expanded occupancy standards for a variety of services. But, Texans should remember that a steady and significant decline in COVID-19 cases is not a sign to let up in our vigilance against the virus. Instead, Texans must continue to heed the guidance of medical experts by wearing a mask, social distancing, and practicing proper sanitation strategies. By maintaining health and safety standards that are proven to mitigate COVID-19, we can continue to slow the spread while opening up the Texas economy.”

The Governor also announced new visitation guidelines, effective Sept. 24, for;

  • Nursing homes
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Intermediate care facilities
  • Home and community-based service providers
  • and Inpatient hospice

Under the new rules, residents will be allowed to designate up to two essential family caregivers who will be provided necessary training to allow them to safely go inside a facility for a scheduled visit, including in the resident’s room, to help ensure their loved one’s needs are being met. Only one caregiver will be able to visit a resident at a time, but social distancing will not be required.

For general visitors who are not a designated essential caregiver, these updated guidelines will now allow approved facilities to schedule outdoor no-contact visits, open window visits, or indoor visitation with the use of Plexiglas safety barriers.

The full press conference feed is available to watch here.

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