The Texas Department of Public Safety will begin a phased reopening of its driver license offices on May 26, offering limited services beginning in the northwest and west regions, Gov. Greg Abbott announced this week.

DPS will also be launching an online driver license appointment system that will allow customers to book appointments up to six months in advance.

“This phased opening of our driver license offices and the launch of DPS’ online appointment system prioritizes the health and safety of our communities and ensures Texans have access to the services they need at their local driver license offices,” Abbott said. “I thank DPS for developing this safe and strategic plan to open their offices and for launching a new appointment system to streamline our driver license services.”

The four-phase plan for opening is:

Phase 1: Offices in DPS’s Northwest and West Texas regions on May 26.

Phase 2: Offices in DPS’s South and Central Texas reopen on May 29.

Phase 3: Offices in DPS’s North and Southeast Texas regions, which includes Panola County, reopen on June 3. Those who currently do not possess a Texas DL, CDL, learner permit or ID card, as well those who are in need of a drive test, can begin scheduling appointments in these two regions on May 29 at 1 p.m.

Phase 4: Anyone can schedule an appointment for all driver license office transactions beginning mid-summer. An extension for expiration dates remains in effect until this phase is implemented, Abbott’s office said.

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Abbott expands testing at state facilities

Abbott on Thursday expanded COVID-19 testing to all patients, residents and staff at the state’s inpatient psychiatric hospitals and living centers, regardless of if they are showing symptoms.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission operates 13 state supported living centers, which provide 24-hour residential care, medical services, and vocational training for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and 10 state hospitals that provide inpatient psychiatric care for adults, children and adolescents.

In total, there are 4,700 patients and residents, and 18,000 staff members in both types of facilities. A total of 161 residents and patients have tested positive for COVID-19, with 107 people recovering and fewer than 10 dying, as of May 20, Abbott’s office said.

“By expanding widespread COVID-19 testing to our state hospitals and state supported living centers, we are better equipped to identify and mitigate these potential hot spots and protect our most vulnerable populations,” Abbott said. “I thank HHSC for their ongoing partnership to provide more testing at these facilities across the state.”

Travel quarantine also lifted

Abbott also has rescinded an executive order that required travelers from certain areas to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving in the state.

Those areas included California, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, Illinois, Detroit, or Miami.