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Texas Takes another Step towards Normalcy

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Governor Issues New, Expanded Capacity Guidelines

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

AUSTIN – It seems like forever ago when a person could go to a store, a restaurant or a sporting event without a mask or being counted at the door. Because COVID-19 was spreading at a rapid rate, Texas Governor Greg Abbott implemented restrictions on certain activities during the spring as a way to combat the infectious nature of the virus.

Slowly, the restrictions were lessened over the summer and now as the state prepares to enter the fall season, Gov. Abbott has relaxed the restrictions even more.  

On Thursday, Sept. 17, the governor held a press conference to provide an update on the state’s ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19.

“During the press conference, the Governor issued Executive Orders expanding occupancy levels for restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, gyms and exercise facilities and classes, museums, and libraries, and re-authorizing elective surgeries for a majority of the state of Texas. The Governor also announced new guidance related to visitations at nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the state,” a press release issued by the Governor’s office stated.

While addressing those in attendance at the briefing, Abbott stated, “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.”

 He added, “Achieving both goals requires safe standards that contain COVID-19, 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.”  

In the newly issued Executive Orders, new visitation guidance – effective Thursday, Sept. 24 – for eligible nursing homes, assisted living facilities, intermediate care facilities, home and community-based service providers, and inpatient hospice was announced.

“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 physical, social, and emotional needs are being met. Designated caregivers will not be required to maintain physical distancing, but only one caregiver can visit a resident at a time,” the Executive Orders stated.

In addition, “A long-term care facility resident (or legal representative) can designate the essential caregiver, who can be a family member, friend, or other individual. Facilities are required to train essential caregivers on the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other infection control measures. Proper PPE must be used at all times during these scheduled visits, and the caregiver must test negative for COVID-19 within the previous 14 days before the initial visit.”

For more information on the new capacity guidelines, pleases visit the Governor’s website at www.gov.texas.gov.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.

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