Legal Resources for County COVID-19 Response

As the COVID-19 outbreak evolves in Texas, TAC Legal Services staff are closely monitoring the situation and working to remain responsive to the needs of TAC members.

We offer the following information to our members to assist them in responding to COVID-19. This information will be updated so please check back frequently.

Last updated 4-1-20

Government Actions

On March 13, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation and press release declaring a State of Disaster.

On March 19, Gov. Abbott held a press conference announcing an Executive Order and a Declaration of Public Health Disaster. The Executive Order is effective from midnight Friday, March 20 until midnight Friday, April 3, but may be extended. The Executive Order establishes:

  • Every person in Texas shall avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.
  • People shall avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants and food courts. However, the use of drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options is allowed and highly encouraged throughout the limited duration of this executive order.
  • People shall avoid visiting gyms or massage parlors.
  • People shall not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
  • Schools shall temporarily close.

This Executive Order is not applicable to critical infrastructure including grocery stores, pharmacies and banking.

On March 31, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order implementing Essential Services and Activities Protocols for the entire state of Texas. The protocols direct all Texans to minimize non-essential gatherings and in-person contact with people who are not in the same household. All critical infrastructure will remain operational, and government entities and businesses will continue providing essential services. Schools will remain temporarily closed to in-person classroom attendance through May 4, 2020.

The Order does allow exceptions for essential activities and services based on the Department of Homeland Security’s guidelines on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce and religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship. Other essential services may be added to this list with the approval of the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM).

These orders will be effective on a statewide basis starting at 12:01 AM on April 2, 2020 and will end on April 30, 2020, subject to extension thereafter based on the status of COVID-19 in Texas and the recommendations of the CDC.

Guidance for County Officials

We offer the following information on specific statutory responsibilities that may be implemented by county officials as the COVID-19 outbreak evolves.

COVID-19 Guidance from TAC Legal Service

Government Communications

Communications Relating to County Responsibilities:

Contacts

Texas Association of Counties (800) 456-5974
TAC Legal Services Department (888) 275-8224
TAC Risk Management Pool Claims (855) 472-5246
Texas Department of Emergency Management (512) 424-2208

THIS PUBLICATION IS A RESEARCH TOOL AND NOT THE COUNSEL OF AN ATTORNEY. THIS PUBLICATION IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR THE ADVICE OF AN ATTORNEY.

It is provided without warranty of any kind and, as with any research tool, should be double checked against relevant statutes, case law, attorney general opinions and advice of legal counsel e.g., your county attorney. Each public officer is responsible for determining duties of the office or position held. Any question regarding such duties should be directed to competent legal counsel for a written opinion.