WASHINGTON (KETK) – Gov. Abbott announced Wednesday afternoon that President Trump granted his request for a major disaster declaration for Texas due to the coronavirus.

Abbott sent a letter to President Trump on Monday asking for the declaration under the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.

“COVID-19-related expenses and obligations are already exceeding $50 million and that will only rise as our efforts continue, wrote Abbott. “Additional federal funding is essential for us to maintain our aggressive course of action to protect our state.”

The declaration will open up the state to receive more federal funding in its response to the coronavirus. In particular, the state has requested resources to overcome a lack of medical equipment, testing supplies, and hospital beds.

There are currently more than 1,000 cases in Texas with so far nearly 15 people dead.

In East Texas, the first confirmed death from COVID-19 was announced on Wednesday with a 91-year-old man passing away in Smith County. The county has 16 cases out of the 26 confirmed in the Piney Woods.

There have been no mandatory shelter-in-place orders issued in East Texas. On Tuesday, Gregg County released a statement allowing for such an order, but that it was optional for residents.

Gov. Abbott’s executive order from last week is set to last at least another 9 days. It put in place several social distancing restrictions including:

  • Banning of groups larger than 10 people
  • Closure of all schools and gyms
  • Bars and restaurants must suspend service in-house
  • Hospital and nursing home visits prohibited unless providing care