May 21, 2021

On Wednesday, Governor Abbott issued Executive Order GA-36, which prohibits governmental entities, such as HHSC, from mandating face coverings in response to the COVID-19 disaster.

Effective immediately, long-term care providers, including home and community support services agencies, are not required to comply with any requirement in HHSC rule that mandates face coverings in response to the COVID-19 disaster. Providers must continue to comply with applicable infection control rules, including those addressing compliance with CDC and CMS guidance.

Note that this order does not take the place of Executive Order GA-34, paragraph 4. Businesses, including long-term care providers, may require employees or customers to follow additional hygiene measures, including wearing face coverings.

HHSC continues to strongly encourage the use of face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19, particularly in settings involving vulnerable populations or individuals who are unvaccinated or of unknown vaccination status.

HHSC is developing new emergency rules in response to this order and will notify long-term care providers by provider letter when the new rules are adopted.