Texas Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order Relating To Hospital Capacity

(STL.News) – WHEREAS, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, issued a disaster proclamation on March 13, 2020, certifying under Section 418.014 of the Texas Government Code that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) poses an imminent threat of disaster for all counties in the State of Texas; and

WHEREAS, on April 12, 2020, I issued a proclamation renewing the disaster declaration for all counties in Texas; and

WHEREAS, the Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, Dr. John Hellerstedt, has determined that COVID-19 represents a public health disaster within the meaning of Chapter 81 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, and renewed that determination on April 17, 2020; and

WHEREAS, I have issued executive orders and suspensions of Texas laws in response to COVID-19, aimed at protecting the health and safety of Texans and ensuring an effective response to this disaster; and

WHEREAS, a shortage of hospital capacity or personal protective equipment would hinder efforts to cope with the COVID-19 disaster; and

WHEREAS, hospital capacity and personal protective equipment were being depleted by ongoing surgeries and procedures; and

WHEREAS, various hospital licensing requirements would stand in the way of implementing increased occupancy in the event of surge needs for hospital capacity due to COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, I therefore issued Executive Order GA-09 on March 22, 2020, and then superseded it with Executive Order GA-15 on April 17, 2020, in an effort to avoid a shortage of hospital capacity or personal protective equipment; and

WHEREAS, the “governor is responsible for meeting … the dangers to the state and people presented by disasters” under Section 418.011 of the Texas Government Code, and the legislature has given the governor broad authority to fulfill that responsibility; and

WHEREAS, under Section 418.012, the “governor may issue executive orders … hav[ing] the force and effect of law;” and

WHEREAS, under Section 418.016(a), the “governor may suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business or the orders or rules of a state agency if strict compliance with the provisions, orders, or rules would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with a disaster;” and

WHEREAS, under Section 418.173, failure to comply with any executive order issued during the COVID-19 disaster is an offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000, confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days, or both fine and confinement.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the State of Texas, do hereby order the following on a statewide basis beginning at 12:01 a.m. on May 1, 2020:

All licensed health care professionals shall be limited in their practice by, and must comply with, any emergency rules promulgated by their respective licensing agencies dictating minimum standards for safe practice during the COVID-19 disaster.

Every hospital licensed under Chapter 241 of the Texas Health and Safety Code shall reserve at least 15 percent of its hospital capacity for treatment of COVID-19 patients, accounting for the range of clinical severity of COVID-19 patients, as determined by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

I hereby continue the suspension of the following provisions to the extent necessary to implement increased occupancy in the event of surge needs for hospital capacity due to COVID-19:

  • 25 TAC Sec. 133.162(d)(4)(A)(iii)(I);
  • 25 TAC Sec. 133.163(f)(1)(A)(i)(II)–(III);
  • 25 TAC Sec. 133.163(f)(1)(B)(i)(III)–(IV);
  • 25 TAC Sec. 133.163(m)(1)(B)(ii);
  • 25 TAC Sec. 133.163(t)(1)(B)(iii)–(iv);
  • 25 TAC Sec. 133.163(t)(1)(C);
  • 25 TAC Sec. 133.163(t)(5)(B)–(C); and
  • Any other pertinent regulations or statutes, upon written approval of the Office of the Governor.

This executive order will supersede Executive Order GA-15 as of 12:01 a.m. on May 1, 2020, but will not supersede Executive Orders GA-10, GA-11, GA-12, GA-13, GA-17, or GA-18.  This executive order shall remain in effect and in full force until modified, amended, rescinded, or superseded by the governor.

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