Governor Abbott Lifts Restrictions on Surgeries, Requires Reservation of 15% of Hospital Capacity for COVID-19 Patients, and Continues Guidelines for Senior Care Facilities

April 28, 2020 | Insights

By Amanda Crouch

On April 27, 2020, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order No. GA-19 relating to hospital capacity during COVID-19. Effective at 12:01 a.m. on May 1, 2020, GA-19 lifts restrictions on elective surgeries originally imposed by Governor Abbott in March and amended on April 17th. Healthcare professionals, hospitals, and outpatient surgical facilities may now perform any medically necessary or appropriate surgeries and procedures as agreed with the patient. GA-19 does require licensed hospitals to reserve 15% of hospital capacity for treatment of COVID-19 patients, accounting for the range of clinical severity as determined by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).

Under GA-19, all licensed healthcare professionals shall be limited in their practice by, and must comply with, any emergency rules promulgated by their respective licensing agencies dictating minimum standards for safe practice during COVID-19. GA-19 supersedes Executive Order No. GA-15, which as a pre-condition to performing elective procedures imposed a 25% reservation requirement on hospital capacity for the treatment of COVID-19 patients and prohibited healthcare facilities from requesting personal protective equipment from any public source. Those restrictions are still applicable until May 1, at which time they will no longer be applicable.

By its express terms, GA-19 does not supersede prior Executive Orders No. GA-10 (daily reporting requirements for hospitals and testing facilities), GA-11 (mandating quarantine for certain air travelers), GA-12 (requiring roadway screening and quarantine after travel from Louisiana), GA-13 (relating to county and municipal jail detention) or GA-17 (establishing strike force to reopen Texas), all of which shall remain in full force and effect until modified, amended, rescinded or superseded by the Governor. It should be observed, however, that GA-20, issued concurrently with GA-19, rescinds GA-12 effective May 1, 2020, and supersedes in substantial part GA-11. For more information, see “Governor Abbott Lifts Restrictions on Travel from New Orleans and Louisiana, Continues Requirements on Self-Quarantine After Travel From Other Locations.”

Additionally, Governor Abbott issued Executive Order No. GA-18 relating to the expanded reopening of select services and activities. Citing CDC guidelines, GA-18 continues to prohibit people from visiting nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities or long-term care facilities except to provide critical assistance as determined by guidance from the HHSC. GA-18 also instructs nursing homes, state supporting living centers, assisted living facilities and long-term care facilities to follow infection control policies and practices set forth by the HHSC, including minimizing the movement of staff between facilities whenever possible. GA-18 expires at 11:59 p.m. on May 15, 2020 unless otherwise modified, amended, rescinded or superseded by the Governor.

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