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What Physicians and Health Care Workers Need to Know about Tarrant County’s Stay-at-Home Order

Excerpts from an article by Sean Price that was originally published on the Texas Medical Association website. Find the original here.

Texas’ largest counties and cities have issued stay-at-home orders designed to keep residents at home and away from each other as much as possible. Most of the orders exempt health care activities, but the specific language in each varies.

Most of them are set to expire in early April, though they could be revised or renewed.

Texas already is under a statewide order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott forbidding social gatherings of more than 10 people. That order also forced restaurants to close dining rooms – though they can still deliver food and provide takeout service – and closed establishments like bars, theaters, and gyms.

As of Wednesday, 18 counties have issued stay-at-home orders, including the six largest – BexarDallasEl PasoHarrisTarrant, and Travis. In many cases, large cities within these counties – including Fort Worth and San Antonio – issued joint orders along with their county governments.

The local orders have shut down all businesses except those exempted as “essential,” such as health care facilities, grocery stores, gas stations, and news media outlets. Orders typically followed guidelines on “critical infrastructure” established by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which include health care. 

 Tarrant County

Took effect March 24 and ends April 7, 2020

  1. “That this Executive Order authorizes the County to take any actions necessary to promote health and suppress disease, including quarantine, evacuation, regulating ingress and egress from a disaster area and controlling the movement of persons and the occupancy of premises, pursuant to § 418.108(f), (g) of the Texas Government Code.”
  2. “All elective medical, surgical, and dental procedures are prohibited anywhere in Tarrant County. Hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dental offices, and other medical facilities are directed to identify procedures that are deemed ’elective’ by assessing which procedures can be postponed or cancelled based on patient risk considering the emergency need for redirection of resources to COVID-19 response.”
  3. “That no person shall sell any of the following goods or services for more than the price the person charged for the goods or services on March 16, 2020, and continuing during the pendency of this Executive Order:
  4. groceries, beverages, toilet articles, ice;
  5. restaurant, cafeteria, and boarding-house meals; and
  6. medicine, pharmaceutical, and medical equipment and supplies.”
  7. Essential activities include:
    • “To engage in activities or perform tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members (for example, obtaining medical supplies or medication, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies need to work from home).”
    • “Essential Businesses means:
    • Essential Health Care Services. Health care operations, including hospitals, clinics, doctors, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, other health care facilities, health care suppliers, home health care services providers, mental health providers, substance abuse providers, blood banks, medical research, or any related and/or ancillary health care services, veterinary care provided to animals. Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children. Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children. Health care operations do not include fitness and exercise gyms and similar facilities. Health care operations do not include elective medical, surgical, and dental procedures as established in accordance with this Executive Order.”   

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