69ºF

Texas expands travel restrictions, launches pop-up hospital as coronavirus spreads

photo

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. Nick Wagner/POOL via American-Statesman

Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday ratcheted up travel restrictions into Texas during the new coronavirus pandemic, while announcing the state's first pop-up hospital to deal with the crisis. He also said he was moving to "stop the release of dangerous felons" amid the outbreak.

Abbott said he was dramatically expanding a previous executive order that requires a 14-day self-quarantine for anyone flying into Texas from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut or New Orleans. Now, the state is also mandating a 14-day self-quarantine for anyone driving into Texas from anywhere in Louisiana and for those flying in from Miami, Atlanta, Detroit and Chicago, as well as anywhere in California and Washington.

In Texas, Abbott said the state's first ad hoc health care facility to respond to the pandemic will be the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, an original hotspot for the outbreak at the state level. The convention center has the capacity for 250 beds "with plenty of room to massively expand that number if needed," Abbott said.

At the same time, Abbott said there is "plenty of hospital capacity" to deal with the outbreak statewide and existing hospitals remain the "primary location" for treatment.

Abbott's latest executive orders were not immediately available. It was unclear, for example, how he was defining the kinds of prisoners who cannot be released.

There are, as of Sunday, at least 2,552 coronavirus cases in Texas, including 34 deaths, according to the latest figures from Texas Department of State Health Services. Almost half of Texas’ 254 counties — 118 — are reporting cases.

There have been 25,483 tests done in the state, according to the DSHS numbers.