Gov. Greg Abbott declares a statewide emergency amid new cases of COVID-19 in the state on March 13, 2020 at the state capitol. Photo credit:  Eddie Gaspar/The Texas Tribune

DALLAS, Texas — Texas Governor Greg Abbott, during a press conference moments ago, issued an executive order requiring any air travels arriving to the State of Texas from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or New Orleans to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine, or until the end of their stay in the state, whichever is shorter.

Abbott says the list of required-quarantine locations may be expanded upon, as needed.

Anyone who arrives at a Texas airport from those areas will be subject to the mandatory quarantine and will be required to submit a quarantine location with the Texas Department of Public Safety, which will be administering the enforcement of the mandatory quarantine.

Texas Department of Public Safety troopers will conduct quarantine site visits to verify compliance with the order. Only medical personnel are permissible within the quarantine location and those under the mandatory quarantine order may not visit public locations.

Non-compliance with the order is a criminal offense punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and/or up to 180 days in jail, stated Abbott.

Abbott says federal health officials have deemed the New York tri-state area as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

"The State of Texas continues to act upon the recommendations of top state, federal, and local health experts as we implement a comprehensive strategy to limit the spread of COVID-19,” stated Governor Abbott. "The New York Tri-State Area and the City of New Orleans have become major centers of this pandemic, and it is vital that we take necessary precautions to prevent additional exposure that could originate from people traveling from these areas to Texas."

"This Executive Order is another important measure we are taking to protect the health and safety of Texans, and we will continue to take any action necessary to mitigate exposure to COVID-19 in our state," he stated.

President Donald Trump, yesterday, issued a major disaster declaration for the State of Texas — freeing up additional federal funding for COVID-19-related response efforts in the state.

As of 11:30 a.m., on Thursday, March 26, 2020, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is reporting 1,396 COVID-19 cases statewide, with 18 COVID-19-related deaths. 21,424 total tests have been administered in public and private labs.

Abbott, during today's press conference, says the case number may be as high as 1,424.

"This order to self-quarantine shall not apply to people traveling in connection with military service, emergency response, health response, or critical-infrastructure functions, as may be determined by the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM)," stated a release from the governor's office. "This Executive Order will remain in effect and in full force until modified, amended, rescinded, or superseded by the Governor."

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