AUSTIN, Texas - Gov. Greg Abbott instituted a mandatory self-quarantine period for people visiting from several areas hard hit by the coronavirus in the United States.
Gov. Abbott said he made the call to do this after conversations with Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci on President Donald Trump’s team.
Airline travelers from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Orleans into Texas will have to self-quarantine for 14 days. Abbott said there would be enforcement of the quarantine by Department of Public Safety troopers.
DPS will give travelers a form that will need to be filled out with the place travelers will stay and other identifying information.
“DPS troopers will conduct visits to their quarantine locations to verify compliance with this executive order,” Abbott said.
Any traveler violating the quarantine will be subject to as much as $1,000 fine and as long as six months in jail.
This only applies to travelers by plane, not by ground.
“This is intended simply to achieve the goals that have been articulated by the CDC, by the White House, orgs focused on minimizing the virus in the United States,” Abbott said.
He said the executive order is something that could easily be added to, so if there are other hotspots that pop up, he could also require those passengers quarantine after arriving in Texas.
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Abbott said he signed the executive order in an effort to prevent the outbreaks in those areas from happening in Texas.
The tristate area and New Orleans have seen some the largest amount of COVID-19 cases in the nation.
Abbott conferred with Dr. Deborah Birx, the point medical voice on the president’s coronavirus taskforce, and the Texas state health director before issuing the order.
Abbott also said another executive order of his has resulted in new hospital beds being made available for coronavirus patients.
He said more than 3,000 beds are now open statewide if they are needed.
Of those, 1,700 are in Dallas alone and 2,3000 are in North Texas total.Abbott said there are currently 100 patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Texas.
A total of 18 people have died from the virus in the state.
There are now confirmed cases in 90 of Texas’ 254 counties.
And the state is in the process of gathering data on the availability of ventilators.
“Our job is not to evaluate the situation where we are, but to look at the worst case scenario for where we may be. We don't want to be in a situation like New York is in right now,” Abbott said.
Dr. Diana Cervantes, with the UNT Health Science Center, is a former top public health official here in Texas.
She said while beds are important, there are many different variables like location, other equipment, and staff that will be very important.
“To free up this amount, it’s probably a good start, but there’s also the need in different areas. So maybe in rural areas versus more densely populated areas like DFW, what does mean, because even in rural areas, if you have the beds but don’t have the staff, you don’t have the equipment to be able to provide that care that’s where you’re going to have an issue,” she said.