AUSTIN, Texas -- During a press conference at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order that mirrors COVID-19 protocols issued by the Trump administration.
Modifying an earlier order, Texans are being told to limit personal interactions that have the potential to spread COVID-19 until at least April 30.
Outdoor exercise and trips to fulfill work functions and other essential tasks such as obtaining groceries are still permitted. Religious functions may continue so long as social distancing practices are observed.
Abbott said law enforcement is empowered to enforce the order. Violations could include a fine or up to 180 days in jail. Those in violation could also be subject to quarantine.
Texas schools are to remain closed until May 4 unless a subsequent order extends that.
In addition to detailing the order, Abbott updated the latest COVID-19 numbers in Texas. As of Tuesday, 42,922 people have been tested for COVID-19 in the state. Of those, 3,266 have tested positive. Forty-one people have died.
One-hundred-twenty-two Texas counties have at least one person who has tested positive. Abbott stated that of those tested, fewer than 10 percent came back positive for COVID-19.
Abbott concluded by urging Texans to redouble their social distancing efforts.
Health organizations and a growing number of lawmakers have called on Gov. Abbott to issue a statewide mandatory stay-at-home order. Rep. Chris Turner, chairman of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, issued a statement saying he believes Abbott’s latest order is a step in the right direction.
“By ordering all activity – apart from seeking or providing essential services – to cease or be conducted via telework, Gov. Abbott has essentially created a statewide stay-at-home order,” Rep. Turner, D-Grand Prairie, said. “This can serve as a good baseline for counties that had none in place, even if it is less than what other counties have already done.”