Gov. Abbott says statewide shelter-in-place not necessary at this time

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AUSTIN, Tex. (KBTX)- Governor Greg Abbott on Sunday signed an Executive Order to expand hospital bed capacity as the state responds to the COVID-19 virus.

These actions will reinforce Texas' health care capabilities and provide additional space for hospitals to provide care to COVID-19 patients.

Under this order, the Governor directed all licensed health care professionals and facilities to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient.

The Governor also suspended certain regulations to allow for increased occupancy of hospital rooms — meaning hospitals will be able to treat more than one patient in a patient room, thus increasing their ability to care for the growing number of COVID-19 patients.

Additionally, the Governor announced the creation of a temporary Supply Chain Strike Force — immediately naming Keith Miears, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Procurement at Dell Technologies, to serve as Supply Chain Director for the state of Texas.

Miears will be supported by former State Representative John Zerwas, MD, who will assist with hospital relations and preparedness, Clint Harp, Vice President of Transmission Strategic Services for the Lower Colorado River Authority, who will assist with asset research and procurement, and Elaine Mendoza, Chair of the A&M Board of Regents, who will assist with statewide child care infrastructure for critical workers.

The Supply Chain Strike Force will be tasked with guiding collaboration between the public and private sectors to ensure health care facilities have the supplies and resources they need to respond to COVID-19.

"We have seen how this virus has progressed in other states and nations, and it is vital that Texas stays ahead of the curve as the situation develops here," said Governor Abbott.

The Governor's Executive Order takes effect immediately and remains in effect and in full force until 11:59 p.m. on April 21, 2020, unless it is modified, amended, rescinded, or superseded by the Governor.

Gov. Abbott took some questions after he, state health commissioner John Hellerstedt and state emergency management chief Nim Kidd spoke for about 20 minutes.

The governor also said he sees no need right now for a statewide shelter in place order, as North Texas hospital executives asked him Sunday to impose.

Abbott said he wants to see the full effects of the executive order he issued Thursday. It bans gatherings of more than 10 people and closes many establishments for two weeks.

Abbott noted some areas of Texas haven’t had many people test positive for the virus. What may suit one area of Texas may not be needed elsewhere, he said. Local officials are free to adopt more aggressive measures and he welcomes their doing it, he said.

Abbott was also asked about the possibility of students not returning to classrooms this school year.

'It just depends upon whether or not there has been any reduction in the spread of COVID-19,' the governor replied.

Click here to watch the full news briefing.

As of Sunday afternoon, there are 15 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Brazos Valley. Twelve are in Brazos County, two in Grimes County and one case is confirmed in Milam County.