Texas governor declares statewide emergency

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Gov. Greg Abbott is briefed on the coronavirus outbreak, in Austin on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. (Photo: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune)

Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday declared that the new coronavirus is a statewide public health disaster said that Texas is on the verge of being able to significantly ramp up its testing capacity.

At the same time he announced that he was directing day cares, nursing homes and prisons to limit visitations.

He said San Antonio is opening on Friday the first state drive-through with testing capabilities that will initially prioritize health care workers and high-risk patients.

Abbott also finally clarified the state’s testing history so far and current capabilities. In total, he said there have been 220 Texans tested by either a state public lab or by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are another 75 Texans being tested currently.

On Friday, the state’s testing capacity was 272 people per day, but he said next week that capacity will expand into the thousands.

There are at least 49 cases of COVID-19 in Texas, with the first instances of community spread happening in the state’s two largest urban areas.

Texas joins more than 20 states in declaring an emergency over the virus. Local officials in recent days have already opted to close an unprecedented number of school districts and cancel large-scale events.

 

By Edgar Walters, The Texas Tribune. Cassi Pollock and Jolie McCullough contributed to this report.

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