On Wednesday, President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration for Texas, and the state took action to expand hospital capacity.
FEMA announced that federal emergency aid has been made available for Texas to supplement the recovery efforts in the areas affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Federal funding is now available for crisis counseling around the state, and for governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance under Public Assistance, for all areas affected by COVID-19 at a federal cost share of 75%, according to a news release from FEMA.
Gov. Greg Abbott had requested the declaration because the state needs federal assistance to save lives and protect property, public health and safety.
“The President’s declaration opens up new sources of funding for individual and public assistance that will help Texas respond to this public health emergency and protect public health and safety,” Abbott said in a statement.
Abbott also announced Wednesday that he temporarily waived certain hospital licensing rules, and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission has adopted an emergency rule to meet the state’s need for additional hospital capacity. Certain facilities that have pending licenses or facilities that have been closed for no more than 36 months to come online under existing hospital building licenses. Those facilities will be administered and operated by hospitals with existing licenses, according to a news release from Abbott’s office.
“There are healthcare facilities across the state that have either recently closed or have yet to receive a license, but are otherwise ideal locations to aid in our COVID-19 response,” Abbott said. “By waiving these rules, we can quickly bring many of these facilities online to help Texas communities maximize their hospital capacity and provide care to Texans in need.”
Abbott also waived certain licensing renewal regulations and fees for nurses for six months.