DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins thanked Governor Greg Abbott for temporarily waiving some regulations to expand the health care workforce to help with Texas’ COVID-19 response, but asked about progress made for those relying on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) /WIC benefits to eat.

In a Monday morning tweet, Jenkins pressed Abbott: “Thank you for listening to doctors, hospitals and county leaders on this important request. What is your progress on loading the stimulus SNAP/WIC benefits as required by law on the #LoneStar cards? Every other state has done this. People are hungry. Please make this a priority.”

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Abbott asked the Department of Agriculture in March to allow SNAP recipients in the state to use their benefits for restaurant takeout and drive-thru service during the coronavirus pandemic.

He, along with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, sent the letter, which if approved, would open up another food source for some 3.2 million Texans.

“The state must do everything it can to make life more manageable for citizens and ensure that Texans can provide meals for their families,” Abbott said.

Calling COVID-19 a “public health emergency” Abbott asked for the implementation of a statewide Restaurant Meal Program. If approved, he said the program would help businesses, big and small, by ensuring “the preservation of the local food supply by allowing participating restaurants to accept SNAP benefits as payment.”

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The Governor’s waiver expanding the health care workforce provides for emergency licensees to undergo name-based background checks in place of fingerprint checks while fingerprint checks are unavailable due to the crisis.

It allows more flexibility between physicians and the PAs and Advance Practice Registered Nurses they supervise including allowing for oral prescriptive delegation agreements to enable rapid deployment of those practitioners during the emergency.

“The State of Texas is bolstering our response to COVID-19 by expanding our health care workforce and removing barriers that might prevent professionals from serving their fellow Texans,” said Abbott. “Our front line health care professionals play a vital role in our ongoing response to protect public health, and we are committed to supporting them and ensuring they have the ability to perform their important duties.”

There are currently 5,492 confirmed coronavirus cases in Texas.

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