All Texans are now living in the same world Dallas residents have been inhabiting for a couple of days now. Effective midnight Friday, all bars, restaurants, health clubs and schools in the state must shut down until at least April 3. Restaurants can still provide takeout, drive-thru and delivery service. Public gatherings of more than 10 people are also banned throughout the state.
“All jurisdictions must work to contain the spread of COVID-19 for at least the next two weeks,” Abbott said at a Thursday news conference. “We are doing this now today so that we can get back to business as usual more quickly.”
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The commissioner of Texas' Department of State Health Services, John Hellerstedt, declared a public health disaster, the first in the state since 1903. The declaration expands the measures the state can take to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Abbott said it was up to Texans to ensure that extreme measures, like quarantines, were not necessary.
Virtually all of North Texas enacted rules similar to Abbott's before his declaration. Dallas limited restaurant service and ordered bars closed on Tuesday. Fort Worth did the same on Wednesday.
The governor said Thursday that at least 140 Texans from at least 24 counties had tested positive for COVID-19, the infection that stems from the coronavirus. As testing continues over the next week or so, he said, Texas will begin to get a better picture of how widespread the epidemic is within the state.