AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has threatened six months of jail time or a $1,000 fine to medical providers who defy an order to stop all medically unnecessary surgeries and procedures, including non-life-saving abortions.
Paxton based the order on the statewide disaster declaration over fast-spreading coronavirus, which is closing in on 600 total cases, including seven deaths, in Texas.
According to the attorney general’s office, the pandemic has increased demands for hospital beds and has created a shortage of personal protective equipment needed to protect health care professionals and stop transmission of the virus.
Postponing surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary will ensure that hospital beds are available for those suffering from COVID-19, Paxton’s office added.
“We must work together as Texans to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that our health care professionals and facilities have all the resources they need to fight the virus at this time,” said Paxton. “No one is exempt from the governor’s executive order on medically unnecessary surgeries and procedures, including abortion providers. Those who violate the governor’s order will be met with the full force of the law.”
Gov. Greg Abbott’s order banned all dine-in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other establishments that would attract close personal contact involving 10 or more people.
Going a step further, Dallas County instituted a “shelter in place” order.
So far in the Houston area, leaders have stopped short of placing a restriction, opting to think through any order that would close down non-essential businesses and keep residents at home.