Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order Increasing Hospital Capacity, Announces Supply Chain Strike Force For COVID-19 Response

March 22, 2020 | Austin, Texas

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, the Texas Department of State Health Services has determined that, as of March 19, 2020, COVID-19 represents a public health disaster within the meaning of Chapter 81 of the Texas Health and Safety Code; and

WHEREAS, on March 19, 2020, I issued an executive order in accordance with the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America, as promulgated by President Donald J. Trump and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and mandated certain obligations for Texans that are aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19; 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 are being depleted by surgeries and procedures that are not medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient, contrary to recommendations from the President’s Coronavirus Task Force, the CDC, the U.S. Surgeon General, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; 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, 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 that, beginning now and continuing until 11:59 p.m. on April 21, 2020, all licensed health care professionals and all licensed health care facilities shall postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition of, or to preserve the life of, a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician;

PROVIDED, however, that this prohibition shall not apply to any procedure that, if performed in accordance with the commonly accepted standard of clinical practice, would not deplete the hospital capacity or the personal protective equipment needed to cope with the COVID-19 disaster.

At the request of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, I hereby suspend 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 shall remain in effect and in full force until 11:59 p.m. on April 21, 2020, unless it is modified, amended, rescinded, or superseded by me or by a succeeding governor.

Given under my hand this the 22nd day of March, 2020. 

Governor Greg Abbott