LIVE: Gov. Abbott updates Texans on state’s coronavirus response

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott endorses Ted Cruz, giving the senator his highest-ranking political endorsement thus far in the presidential race.

Gov. Greg Abbott at a virtual town hall March 19, 2020 (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)
Gov. Greg Abbott at a virtual town hall March 19, 2020 (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

by: Wes RapaportPosted: Mar 24, 2020 / 12:33 PM CDT Updated: Mar 24, 2020 / 12:37 PM CDT

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Gov. Greg Abbott is updating the public on the state’s response to COVID-19.

Abbott will be joined by Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, and Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd.

The press conference will take place at 2:30 p.m. at the Texas Department of Public Safety warehouse facility, according to Abbott’s office.

Abbott has leaned on the federal government in recent days to increase the supply chain to provide healthcare workers and first-responders with the resources they need. On Monday, he wrote a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to issue a major disaster declaration that would unlock additional federal funding. Abbott’s office released information this week detailing how Texas would distribute the initial round of federal funding from the first coronavirus bill passed through Congress. Meanwhile, private companies and non-profit organizations have made donations of supplies to local, regional and state healthcare workers.

Abbott’s Tuesday announcement comes two days after he indicated he was not inclined to implement a statewide stay-at-home order, leaving the decision to local leaders.

Abbott said as additional cases emerge around the state, “what may be right for places like the large urban areas may not be right at this particular point in time for the more than 200 counties that have zero cases of COVID-19.”

Austin, Dallas, Waco and San Antonio are among the cities issuing stay-at-home orders, except to partake in essential activities. City leaders in Lubbock ordered all non-essential businesses to close. Counties including Cameron, Harris, Tarrant and Travis issued orders to keep residents at home.

Tuesday morning, 65 members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus sent Abbott a letter asking him to implement a statewide stay-at-home order to close “all non-essential businesses, restricts travel to the greatest extent possible, and gives our health care providers, state and local governments and all Texans the greatest chance possible to suppress the imminent and unprecedented threat posed by the novel coronavirus and its resulting disease, COVID-19.”

Thus far, Abbott has issued six executive orders to lead the state’s response to coronavirus, ranging from a school closure mandate to postponing non-critical surgeries.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Monday his interpretation of Abbott’s executive order temporarily halting elective surgeries applies to abortion providers. Paxton said this would apply to all operations that are “not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”

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