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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday, March 13, declared a state of disaster in all Texas counties and listed actions agencies are taking to contain and minimize the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, a contagious flu-like respiratory disease.

Abbott said agency actions would include:

—Provide immediate ability to move resources around the state, including resources obtained through the Strategic National Stockpile, an emergency supply of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies;

—Restrict visitations at nursing homes, state-supported living centers, hospitals, daycare facilities, prisons, jails and juvenile justice facilities, while allowing limited exceptions for situations such as end-of-life visitations;

— Direct state agencies to take any action necessary to facilitate telemedicine and to provide flexible work and tele-work policies; and

— Empower the Texas Attorney General to pursue cases of price-gouging and ensure that offenders are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Cost waiving

Earlier last week, Abbott and the Texas Department of Insurance asked health insurers and health maintenance organizations operating in Texas to waive costs associated with the testing and telemedicine visits for the diagnosis of COVID-19.

Additionally, TDI requested that insurers report their actions related to consumer cost-sharing and access to services so that the department can ensure consumers are aware of their available benefits.

“Consulting a physician from home is a practical way to avoid getting sick, prevent the spread of the virus and help ensure that emergency rooms are available for those who truly need them. We appreciate the collaboration of health insurers operating in Texas to enhance our state’s proactive approach to addressing any potential outbreaks of COVID-19,” Abbott said.