Texas Gov. Abbott declares state disaster, drive-thru testing in San Antonio due to COVID-19

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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — At a press conference Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state disaster for all counties in Texas, and he announced the state’s first drive-through COVID-19 testing facility in San Antonio.

Gov. Abbott signed the declaration of state disaster during the press conference, and he said it authorizes “the use of all available and necessary state and government resources to help respond to COVID-19.”

There are at least 39 confirmed cases in Texas, not counting the cases from Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Gov. Abbott said. 220 Texans have been tested for COVID-19 by either the state or U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and 75 are being tested, as he put it, “as we speak.”

The drive-through testing facility in San Antonio opened as he was talking, Gov. Abbott said. Initially, it’ll be used for first responders, health care workers, operators of critical infrastructure and key resources and “high-level patients.”

There are plans for more drive-through testing facilities in Dallas and Austin, Gov. Abbott said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a press conference as he announced the signing of a state disaster declaration to maximize resources for the state to tackle novel coronavirus cases on March 13, 2020. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

As of Friday, Texas Public Health labs can test 273 people per day, and the ability to test more is increasing while private labs come on line, Gov. Abbott said.

Gov. Abbott directed state agencies to restrict visitation at nursing homes, state-sponsored living centers, hospitals and daycare centers. It allows limited exceptions for things like end-of-life visitations and requires all individuals to go through the proper screenings, he said.

“We want to make sure we do all we can to prevent this vulnerable senior population, or others in hospitals, from contracting COVID-19,” Gov. Abbott said.

The state is also seeking waivers for federal regulations for the school lunch programs “to give districts flexibility to provide students food should the districts have to shut down for an extended period of time.”

He also stressed there’s no need for people to “stockpile supplies.”

“Texas is in the best position to handle a situation like this,” Gov. Abbott said. “We’ve been working with grocers and retailers, and Texans must remain calm. We are prepared with the goods and supplies we need.”

Abbott was joined at the press conference by Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd and Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD.

This press conference comes a day after Abbott held conference calls with state lawmakers, city mayors and county judges throughout the state on Thursday to provide them with updates and preventative efforts.

Austin Public Health announced its first two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 on Friday. San Antonio and Tyler leaders also announced cases in their respective cities. Click here for a summary of the Texas cases.

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