Second confirmed case of COVID-19
Limestone now has its second Covid-19 positive confirmation. DSHS Region 7 advised that it is a man in his 60's and that his case was travel related and not the result of local community spread.
Leon County announced their first Corona positive on Sunday.
Governor takes statewide measures to address COVID-19 issues
By Arthur DeVitalis
Governor Greg Abbott has issued multiple directives and some executive orders over the last moving, in an attempt to clarify the law, create exemptions that work with the general public across the state and implement staff to handle the supply-chain issues faced by increased demand.
He directed the Texas Department of State Health Services to allow the sale of bulk retail products from restaurant supply chain distributors directly to consumers. In this way, supplies obtained by owners for previously-anticipated crowds. Said foods must be in original condition, packaging or presented as received by the restaurant. Under this guidance, restaurants will be able to sell items like packaged meat, fruit and vegetables, and dry goods directly to the public to prepare and consume at home. These bulk food items would be available for purchase through restaurants offering drive-thru, delivery, pick-up, and curbside service.
The Supply Chain Strike Force secured more than $83 million of purchase orders for essential supplies. Additionally, the Governor announced that the Texas Division of Emergency Management will begin receiving 100,000 masks per day by the end of last week. The SCSF also began receiving 100,000. The state is now receiving more than 1 million statewide.
A portal accessible through www.texas.gov serves as the intake process for individuals or groups wanting to provide valid leads on PPE and donations. Volunteers and volunteer professionals, including those with medical skills, can find an outlet here as well.
“The State of Texas is rapidly accelerating the purchasing and delivery of essential personal protective equipment and other supplies to aid in our COVID-19 response,” said Governor Abbott. “The Supply Chain Strike Force is working in concert with the Texas Division of Emergency Management to secure these vital resources and to swiftly distribute them to medical professionals, hospitals, and first responders in communities throughout the state.
Certain hospital licensing rules and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission also adopted an emergency rule to increase hospital capacities in Texas while the state responds to COVID-19.
For certain facilities that have pending licenses or facilities that have been closed for no more than 36 months, facilities can come online under existing hospital building licenses. These facilities will be administered and operated by hospitals with existing licenses. The waivers that remove certain mileage restrictions will allow hospitals to operate additional facilities that are more than 30 miles away from the central hospital.
Governor Abbott directed the HHSC to waive certain regulatory requirements regarding facility license renewals. These waivers allow general, special and psychiatric hospitals, free-standing emergency medical facilities and end-stage renal facilities to renew their license without a fire marshal's report. The facilities will still be required to update their records at a later date.
The United States Department of Agriculture seeking permission to allow Texas Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program recipients to use their benefits at the take out and drive-through locations.
A licensing grace period for Registered Nurses This grace period will allow nurses who are otherwise in good standing to continue practicing and will give them additional time to renew their license without added fees and penalties.
If approved, federal Medicaid flexibilities applied for by state officials would include temporarily extending existing prior authorizations for services, extending deadlines for state fair hearings and appeals, allowing services to be performed by telehealth, telemedicine, or telephonic contact, extending current medical necessity, service authorizations and level of care authorizations for Medicaid programs, and allowing the state to waive any requirements that require the signature of a physician, durable medical equipment provider or Medicaid recipient.
Streamlining provider enrollment for out-of-state and new providers to increase the number of providers in Texas, which will ensure continued access to care.
Provisions also include waiving requirements that health are professionals be licensed in the state in which they are providing services, so long as they have equivalent licensing in another state.
Interest-free federal loans, known as Title XII funds, will be utilized to pay unemployment claims. Title XII is a federal process that allows states to receives advance loans from the federal government to continue to cover unemployment benefit payments without disruption.
In a request letter to Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, Governor Abbott authorized the Texas Workforce Commission to officially request access to these additional funds.
Department of Labor’s approval would allow Texas to apply for federal loans that would be interest-free through the end of the current calendar year. In the past, TWC received loans then issued bonds to pay them off. The agency has never missed making a payment to an eligible claimant.
HHS also announced $250 million in grants from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to help communities provide meals for older adults. Texas received a grant for $16,205,796.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law by President Trump March 18, provided the additional funding for the nutrition services programs authorized by the Older Americans Act of 1965. These programs provide meals to more than 2.4 million older adults each year, both through home delivery and in places like community centers. The need for these services, particularly home-delivered and packaged meals, has increased as community measures to slow transmission of COVID-19 have closed meal sites and have left many family caregivers unable to assist their older loved ones.
Funding has been provided to states, territories, and tribes for subsequent allocation to local meal providers. Grant amounts are determined based on the population-based formulas defined in the Older Americans Act.
Older adults who need assistance can contact the Eldercare Locator to find services available in their community. The Eldercare Locator can be reached at 1-800-677-1116 or https://eldercare.acl.gov/.
For more information about COVID-19, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. For more information about the Older Americans Act nutrition programs, please visit ACL.gov.
Those traveling from specific states must comply with mandatory 14-day quarantines, according to an executive order issued by Abbott. States were altered from the Tri-State area in New York and Louisiana to more states heavily affected, including Miami, California and more.