Texas Reaches Two Years Under State of Emergency Due to COVID-19

Texas Reaches Two Years Under State of Emergency Due to COVID-19
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott makes an announcement in Lubbock, Texas. | Image by Justin Rex, AP

Texas has now been under a state of emergency due to COVID-19 for two years. Governor Greg Abbott most recently extended the state of emergency for 30 more days on February 21, 2022.

The initial state of emergency declaration was made by Governor Abbott on March 13, 2020, after 39 COVID-19 cases were reported in Texas. 

“Declaring a state of disaster is a key component of these efforts because it allows the state to effectively serve the people of Texas without hindrance or delay,” Abbott said at a press conference at the Texas Capitol at the time.  

The original order was set to expire after 30 days. However, the governor has continued to renew the order every month since then. Under a state of emergency, the governor can overrule local governments’ orders associated with COVID-19 responses. 

Several localities, such as Dallas County, ordered businesses to close and establish mask and vaccine mandates to combat COVID-19 in 2020. The Texas State Legislature attempted but failed to pass legislation banning such orders in response. However, Governor Abbott used the powers granted by a state of emergency declaration to overrule localities and pass orders that prohibited those kinds of measures with various levels of success.

Now, one Texas lawmaker is calling on the governor to end the state of emergency orders altogether. 

In a letter to Abbott dated March 8, State Representative Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City) called for the state of emergency orders to be immediately rescinded.

“For nearly two years, Texas has been under a declared State of Disaster due to the Covid-19 virus. What started as ‘15 days to slow the spread’ has turned into 24 months of unprecedented government regulations, a massive transfer of wealth from small businesses to mega-corporations, families separated from loved ones, and fear permeating every thought and action,” Slaton wrote. 

“As we arrive at this two-year anniversary, and while recognizing the harm this disease, like all diseases, can pose to vulnerable populations, I am formally requesting that you immediately rescind all covid-related [state of] emergency declarations, orders, and measures – thus ensuring Texas returns to the business that it does best: being a beacon of hope and freedom for the whole world,” Slaton continued. 

If COVID-19 state of emergency orders are rescinded, localities will be able to set their own measures to combat the virus without the governor’s office being able to overrule them. 

Texas would join twenty-nine other states that have already rescinded COVID-19 state of emergency orders. Most recently, New Jersey ended its COVID-19 emergency orders on March 7.

The Dallas Express requested a comment from Governor Abbott’s office but did not receive a response at the time of this publishing.

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