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Abbott announces new travel restrictions to combat COVID-19

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott gestures to boxes of personal protective equipment during a press conference about the state's response to the coronavirus on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in Austin, Texas. (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

AUSTIN, Texas (KLTV/KTRE) – Texas Governor Greg Abbott has announced orders restricting travel to Texas from some COVID-19 “hot spots.”

Abbott said travel to and from Louisiana will be restricted to those handling essential services. He said this applies to travel by road from any location in the state of Louisiana and will be enforced by the Texas Department of Public Safety at entry points into the state and those coming from Louisiana will have to self-quarantine for 14 days. The order does not apply to travel related to commercial activity, military service, emergency response, health response, or critical infrastructure functions. The order goes into effect at noon on Mar. 30. He also said people flying from Miami, Atlanta, Detroit and Chicago, California and Washington state into Texas must be self-quarantined.

Abbott has also signed an executive order which prohibits dangerous felons from being released early due to COVID-19 concerns.

“Releasing dangerous criminals makes the state even less safe,” Governor Abbott said. “It also complicates and slows our ability to respond to the disaster caused by COVID-19.”

Abbott also announced the first facility in the state that will be set up as an alternative facility to treat COVID-19 patients and others. The first facility will be the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas which will be set up to expand healthcare facilities. Abbott said currently the center has the capacity to house 250 beds with the ability to massively expand that number should it be needed. He also said authorities will be looking around the state for possible alternative facilities to treat patients should it be needed.

Abbott also invited Major General Tracy Norris of the Texas National Guard to speak. Norris explained the governor has asked the Texas National Guard to join the efforts with their emergency responders throughout the state to assist in the response to COVID-19.

“Therefore, you will begin to see personnel in your communities as we deploy to bring aid and assistance and do everything we can to help those in need,” Major General Norris said.

Norris said at present, the National Guard has been tasked with three primary missions. The first is providing personnel and equipment to support control and logistics measures. The second is providing communications capabilities for response operations. The third is to provide medical support such as drive-through testing support and acting as a force multiplier for the medical community through expanding hospital capacity and providing equipment as they are able.

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