AUSTIN — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has extended the state’s disaster declaration in response to the coronavirus pandemic as the state approaches nearly 13,500 deaths.
The extension of the disaster declaration came as three of the state’s largest school districts experienced technical problems on Tuesday as their students started the new school year virtually because of concerns over the pandemic.
When Abbott first issued his emergency order on March 13, state officials hadn’t yet reported any confirmed deaths. Abbott has renewed his order every 30 days since and did again Monday.
Although hospitalizations for COVID-19 have steady declined since a peak in mid-July, Abbott said Texans should remain vigilant in helping to prevent virus spread.
“I urge Texans to take precautionary steps to protect their health by wearing a mask, social distancing, and sanitizing their hands,“ Abbott said. “Working together, we will slow the spread and keep our communities safe.”
On Tuesday, school districts in Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth dealt with various technical issues as they began their new school years online.
In the Houston school district, a web hosting service went down, causing problems for families as they tried to sign into the district’s main classwork portal. Families were given a different link to access the portal until the problems were resolved by around noon Tuesday.
“In this unprecedented school year, we must remain flexible and quickly adapt to changing conditions and circumstances like we noticed this morning,” said Houston School District Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan.
In Dallas and Fort Worth, the school districts said on their Twitter feeds they were experiencing technical problems with their phone lines and websites and were working to fix them.
The Houston school district, the state’s largest, has about 209,000 students. The Dallas school district has nearly 154,000 students and the Fort Worth district has more than 84,000 students.
Texas health officials on Monday reported the state has had more than 640,000 virus infections with about 3,500 currently hospitalized.
The true number of cases in Texas is likely higher because many people haven’t been tested and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and be fatal.