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Nov 11

November 11, 2020 TML Coronavirus Update #148

Posted on November 11, 2020 at 1:38 PM by TML Staff

Urgent Updates


What is the status of the suspended Open Meetings Act provisions?


On Friday (November 6), the governor’s office extended the Open Meetings Act suspensions for another 30 days. Previously, on March 16, the governor granted the office of the attorney general’s request for suspension of certain open meeting statutes. The temporary suspension allows, among other things, for telephonic or videoconference meetings of governmental bodies that are accessible to the public in an effort to reduce in-person meetings that assemble large groups of people. The guidance associated with the suspension provides that: “These suspensions are in effect until terminated by the office of the governor, or until the March 13, 2020, disaster declaration is lifted or expires.” The March 13 declaration has been extended for successive 30-day periods, including Friday’s extension. That means the relevant open meetings laws remain suspended for at least another 30 days (or until affirmatively rescinded).


We can’t be certain, but it is highly likely that the governor will continue to repeatedly extend his declarations. We’ve heard from his staff that they have no immediate plans to rescind the suspensions, which are sensible and seem to be working well, but that can’t be guaranteed.


We are sorry for the delay in reporting the recent extension; we initially missed the order in our daily review of relevant press releases.


Has the Governor’s office said anything about plans for COVID-19 treatment distribution now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently authorized the use of the first medical treatment for the virus?


Yes. Yesterday (November 10), the Governor’s office issued a press release describing the new antibody drug, bamlanivimab, and the FDA’s recent (November 9) blessing to distribute it.


According to the Governor’s press release:


The State of Texas has already prepared to distribute the COVID-19 vaccines and medical treatments.


The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has already developed a Vaccine Distribution Plan and is working with health care providers to enroll in their Immunization Program to be eligible to administer these vaccines once available. Over 2,500 providers have already enrolled in the program. DSHS formed an Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel to develop vaccine allocation strategies.


The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) is prepared to assist the swift distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. In late October, TDEM hosted the State of Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Virtual Tabletop Exercise – over 1,000 local, state, federal, and non-governmental organization partners came together to test the state’s vaccine support plan, understand its operational procedures, and examine their roles and responsibilities.


"Swift distribution of vaccines and medical treatments will begin to heal those suffering from COVID-19, slow the spread of the virus, and aid in reducing hospitalizations of Texans," said Governor Abbott. "As we anticipate the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, the State of Texas is prepared to quickly distribute those medicines to Texans who voluntarily choose to use them."


Further Updates


Where can I find archived issues of the TML Coronavirus Updates?


TML Coronavirus Updates are archived by date here and by subject here.