Abbott Extends Disaster Declaration

As we all become accustomed to our new “normal,” keeping track of the changes and updates regarding local and statewide response to the COVID-19 pandemic can be difficult. Here are some bullet points for today:

  • Abbott extends disaster declaration for another 30 days
  • County unveils interactive COVID-19 map
  • Texas lawyers provide pro-bono wills for first responders and medical personnel
  • Demand for Hope Supply’s diaper bank is up

Abbott Extends Disaster Declaration

A day before it was due to expire, Gov. Greg Abbott extended his statewide disaster declaration proclamation Sunday.

The initial declaration was issued March 13. The extended declaration will remain in place for 30 days unless it is renewed again. It is separate from his April 2 executive order that requires Texans to follow social distancing guidelines and requires everything but “essential services” to close. That order expires on April 30.

“I authorize the use of all available resources of state government and of political subdivisions that are reasonably necessary to cope with this disaster,” the proclamation reads.

The extension of the declaration comes as the state’s number of coronavirus cases climbed past 13,500, and the death toll reached 270.

“We are ensuring the state of Texas continues to have adequate resources and capabilities to support our communities and protect public health,” Abbott said in a written statement.

By extending the declaration, the state can still utilize resources like the State Operations Center and receive supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile to supplement local and state medical supplies. It also gives Attorney General Ken Paxton the authority to indict price-gougers.

Dallas County Unveils Interactive Map

Although Dallas County’s partnership with the data science nonprofit Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation (or PCCI) has been ongoing since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the county, it has added another element to its data analysis recently – an interactive map.

The map does have a few caveats, however. The data can change as the county’s statistics are confirmed. Some cases don’t have a full address, so can’t be included on the map, too.

Want to learn more about the partnership? Our sister publication, D Magazine, has more.

Texas Lawyers Provide Pro-Bono Wills for First Responders

A group of Texas attorneys has volunteered to prepare free basic will packages for frontline medical personnel and first responders during the COVID-19 crisis.

The will packages include a will, physician’s directive, medical power of attorney, and statutory durable power of attorney. Some attorneys are also offering will packages for spouses, as well as estate planning options at discounted rates.

Those who need the service should fill out a form that will help the team match them with an attorney. The group does caution that not everyone may be able to be matched to an attorney, as the matching will be done on a first-come, first-served basis, and the attorney they are matched with cannot guarantee how long it will take to complete the packages – it will depend on demand.

Demand for Hope Supply’s Diaper Bank Is Up

Dallas’ Hope Supply Co., the state’s largest diaper bank for children, has seen increased demand for its services as supply chain disruptions and demand are making it harder to keep shelves stocked during the pandemic.

“Diaper banks throughout the country are reporting a supply chain problem with getting diaper orders timely, and items like diapers and wipes can be sold out in many places,” said Nelli Tokleh, Hope Supply spokesperson.

Many of Hope’s recipients are parents who live below the poverty line, mothers and children in women’s shelters, and parents in homeless shelters.

The organization is asking the public to help donate diapers and wipes or monetary donations to help local families.
To donate, or to find out more information, click here.

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at

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