Governor activates National Guard and postpones runoff primary elections in response to COVID-19 threat

Governor Abbott issuing three proclamations affecting the Texas National Guard, runoff elections scheduled for May 26th, and healthcare for incarcerated Texans

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott issued three proclamations that affect the Texas National Guard, incarcerated Texans in TDCJ facilities, and the runoff primary elections scheduled for May 26th.

On March 17th, Governor Abbott activated the Texas National Guard “to be prepared to assist with response efforts for COVID-19,” according to a press release. Abbott is quoted saying, “By activating the Texas National Guard, we are ensuring Texas is prepared as we continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.” He continues in the release stating, “I am grateful to the men and women of the National Guard for their dedication to serving their fellow Texans, and want to assure the public that this is a precautionary measure to make sure the Texas National Guard has the capability to serve at a moment’s notice where they are needed most.”

On March 20th, Governor Abbott issued a proclamation postponing the runoff primary election until July 14th, 2020. The runoff is postponed in conjunction with the state’s ongoing efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The press release states that, “Holding the runoff in May would cause the congregation of large gatherings of people in confined spaces and cause numerous election workers to come into close proximity with others. This would threaten the health and safety of many Texans.”

Early voting for the postponed runoff primary election will begin Monday, July 6th, 2020.

On March 20th, Governor Abbott directed the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to temporarily suspend inmate fees for health care services related to COVID-19. A press release from Abbott’s office states that the “temporary waiver will encourage timely reporting of COVID-19 symptoms so that offenders are given the treatment they need.” The governor says, “We are committed to protecting the health of individuals in state custody and the dedicated state employees working at TDCJ facilities.” Further, Abbott tells Texans that, “This suspension will protect the health of both inmates and TCDJ staff, and is a crucial tool in our efforts to mitigate any potential spread of COVID-19 in closely confined populations.