Prior to pausing the reopening of Texas, Governor Abbott directed a state health agency to enact new safety rules for child care centers during COVID-19. The new order is not completely clear about what the standards will be, although the state health commission will soon be releasing guidelines as rules are still in the process of development.
Abbott also gave local officials the ability to impose stricter restrictions on public gatherings of more than 100 people as COVID-19 cases continue climbing. In a statement, Abbott said, “These are just some of the steps Texas will take to contain the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” Today’s proclamation and emergency rules will aid in that effort in two key ways: allowing restrictions on large gatherings where COVID-19 is easily spread and implementing a statewide standard of infection control for child care centers.”
Much to many people’s dismay, on Tuesday, Texas reported over 5,000 new coronavirus cases which is another record high for the state. In response to these figures, the governor has struck a newly concerned and urgent tone in regard to the rise of illness in the state of Texas by referring to the virus as “now spreading at an unacceptable rate in Texas.”
While Abbott allowed the state’s stay-at-home order to expire after May 1 while businesses begin to partially reopen, he has also been vocal about Texas hospital capacity and the plentiful space that’s available. Abbott also said that on Monday, that closing down Texas again will “always be the last option.”
Abbott further explained that both the action of imposing new safety rules for child care facilities and regulating groups of 100 is based on data that uncovers coronavirus cases spreading from large and small gatherings in child care facilities. Unfortunately, the state of Texas reported 576 positive cases of the coronavirus — 382 staff members and 194 children — in child care facilities as of Tuesday, which is up 59 cases since mid-May.
While staff temperatures checks, outside drop off for children, stopping the serving family-style meals were encouraged, “Before today, they were recommendations. As of today, they are now requirements,” Abbott explained during an interview with KTVT-TV in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Abbott’s decision garnered praise from those asking for stricter standards for child care facilities.
David Feigen, a policy associate for Texans Care for Children says that, “Depending on what these new rules require, Texas leaders will need to ensure that new safety rules are coupled with new supports. We are eager to work with the Governor to develop a Texas plan to ensure child care providers can provide safe and quality care without increasing costs to Texas families.“