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Coronavirus in Texas 4/7: State received more than a million masks but no ventilators from feds; Texas parks close

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By Texas Tribune Staff, The Texas Tribune

Coronavirus in Texas 4/7: State received more than a million masks but no ventilators from feds; Texas parks close” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Tuesday’s biggest developments

  • Prisoners making cloth masks
  • Texas parks closed
  • Comptroller said special session not needed

Texas has received more than a million masks but no ventilators from the federal government

[11:30 a.m.] As of Sunday, Texas has received 1.15 million surgical masks, 484,000 N95 masks and zero ventilators from the national stockpile, according to data given to Associated Press by the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Texas Department of Emergency Management. On Friday, state officials said that Texas has 8,741 ventilators. As of March 28, FEMA had shipped 8,100 ventilators nationally.

Texas is expecting a third delivery from the federal government. Officials didn’t provided the precise number of items requested.

“We requested Texas’ proportional share,” said Chris Van Deusen, spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services to the AP.

Texas has also received 179,000 gowns, 637,000 gloves and 219,000 face shields. — Juan Pablo Garnham

Texas State Parks closed

[10:30 a.m.] Texas State Parks officially closed today until further notice to help limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the temporary shutdown despite efforts by parks’ staff to minimize the spread of the highly contagious virus in recent weeks.

“Given the myriad of challenges and heightened risks of operating the parks at this time, we believe this is the best course of action right now in order to meet the health and safety expectations the state has set out for the citizens of Texas,” said Carter Smith, executive director of Texas Parks and Wildlife. TPWD reports it hosted nearly 740,000 day and overnight visitors throughout the month of March.

People with upcoming overnight bookings and day passes purchased through the state reservation system will be reimbursed. Group and facility reservations have been cancelled until April 30. Parks officials will continue to maintain the grounds during the closure. The state order follows similar measures cities and the federal government have taken to mitigate exposure. National Park Service officials say while most facilities and events are closed or canceled, many of its outdoor spaces remain accessible to the public. Before visiting, officials encourage people to check with individual parks regarding changes to operations, and ask those who venture out to practice Leave No Trace principles to prevent the spread of COVID-19. — Alana Rocha

Hegar says special session not needed for coronavirus response

[9:48 a.m.] Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said Tuesday morning he does not think a special legislative session is necessary for the time being to help respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

“As of today, I don’t think there’s a need for a special session,” Hegar told the Tribune’s Ross Ramsey, noting that state leadership can move dollars around and tap into the Economic Stabilization Fund for cash flow purposes. “If something substantially changes, I’ll be the first to raise that.”

The Legislature is set to meet again in January 2021 for its regularly-scheduled session, unless Gov. Greg Abbott calls state lawmakers back for a special round before then. — Cassi Pollock

Texas prisoners will make up to 20,000 cloth masks a day

[8:53 a.m.] Inmates across Texas are making up to 20,000 cloth masks a day, the Houston Chronicle reports. The masks will be used by Texas Department of Criminal Justice employees and offenders across the state, to contain the spread among the state prisons. As of Monday, 19 offenders and 28 employees in the system had tested positive.

Jeff Ormsby, executive director of the union that represents TDCJ workers, said that the initiative was a step in the right direction, but also added that employees in a cell block need “the proper N95 masks.”

Although inmates in Texas prisons make all sorts of products, from soap to license plates, the state remains one of five in the country that doesn’t pay for regular jobs at these facilities. — Juan Pablo Garnham

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2020/04/07/coronavirus-texas-47-texas-prisoners-sewing-20000-masks-day/.

 

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