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Coronavirus updates: Harris County expanding testing capabilities by adding pop-up mobile units

Here is a look at the latest COVID-19 headlines from around Houston, Texas, and the world for Monday, April 13.

HOUSTON — We are continuing to track the latest headlines and updates regarding the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.


Goldman Sachs and the LiftFund are helping Texas provide $50 million in loans to small businesses to help during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Greg Abbott announced at a press conference Monday morning.

Get today's latest updates and top headlines below.

Today's top headlines

Stimulus checks: everything you need to know | How you can get tested for COVID-19 | Local COVID-19 cases | Coronavirus symptomsFrequently Asked Questions

Latest updates

Here are the latest updates from around the Houston area and the world (all times are Central/Houston time):


APRIL 13 9:05 p.m. — Texans superstar J.J. Watt delivered an uplifting message for Pearland ISD students. In a video, he encouraged students to keep chasing their dreams no matter what obstacles they face during the pandemic. Watch the video here

APRIL 13 9 p.m. — Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman is asking residents aged 65 and older to vote by mail in the upcoming primary runoff elections due concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.

APRIL 13 8:30 p.m. — The Texas Department of Criminal Justice reported that there are 85 TDCJ employees, staff or contractors have tested positive and 193 offenders who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Two additional facilities were placed on precautionary lockdown Monday, the Lopez and Sanchez Units.

APRIL 13 6:03 p.m. — The number of Harris County Sheriff's Office employees who have contracted the coronavirus reached 76 individuals Monday after the department received several long-awaited test.

These tests include deputies, detention officers and support staff.

At least three employees have been hospitalized due to the virus, and the majority of staff who have tested positive— a total 63— are stationed at the Harris County jail. Read more here.

APRIL 13 6 p.m. — The Galveston County Health District has reported its ninth death. The victim is a woman between 81 and 90 years old who had pre-existing health conditions, officials said. 

At this time, at least 11 individuals hospitalized with the virus have recovered.

APRIL 13 5:43 p.m. — County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced two new Harris County Public Health mobile units will provide drive-through testing for COVID-19, adding up to 200 tests per day to the county’s current testing capacity. 

Each pop-up site, which will rotate locations across the precincts starting Tuesday and will be able to up to 100 drive-through tests per day.  

The first mobile coronavirus testing sites are in the Tomball and Humble area starting this week, the Harris County Pct. 4 Commissioner's Office confirmed.

Harris County Public Health is running both sites, which are temporary and only available for pre-approved residents. Officials said walk-ins will not be allowed. More details here

APRIL 13 4:27 p.m. — Fort Bend County and Harris County released maps breaking down confirmed coronavirus cases in according to zip codes.  

Click here for Fort Bend County map.

Click here for Harris County map. 

 APRIL 13 4:23 p.m. — Three days after it suspended operations and laid off nearly all its employees, the XFL has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware estimates the organization has between $10,000,001 and $50 million in both assets and liabilities. Former coaches Bob Stoops and Marc Trestman are among the creditors with the largest unsecured claims. Read more here.

APRIL 13 4:15 p.m. — Montgomery County reported its sixth COVID-19 related death. The individual was a man in his 50s who lived in the Porter area. He was pronounced dead at a hospital in Montgomery County and later tested positive for COVID-19. 

As of Monday, April 13, 266 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Montgomery County. Eighty of those people have recovered from the virus.

APRIL 13 3:23 p.m. Mayor Turner announced the City of Houston testing sites is now available to anyone who wants to be tested for coronavirus. Initially, only symptomatic people could be tested.

You will still have to visit the health department's website to register for a test before getting tested. Read more here.

Starting Tuesday, April 14, testing capabilities will increase to 500 per day at all of the city of Houston testing sites.

As of today, the city's total number of coronavirus cases is 2,239. The mayor also reported two additional deaths, bringing the city's total to 18. 

The two individuals who died are a Hispanic woman in his 90s with underlying health issues conditions and an African American man in his 70s with underlying health conditions.  

APRIL 13 3:14 p.m. Russell Westbrook announced his foundation is donating 600 computers to help students in need of computer and internet access while learning from home during the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement was made during Mayor Turner's press conference on the city's latest response to COVID-19. 

Westbrook appeared on a live stream from Los Angeles to give details about the donation and the organization he is partnering with. More details here

APRIL 13 2:19 p.m. — Harris County Public Health is increasing its testing capabilities to 500 per day starting Tuesday, April 14 at the two Harris County testing sites. 

APRIL 13 2:08 p.m. — The Harris County Precinct One Constable’s Office of Alan Rosen and its Community Outreach Division are collaborating with Galilee Missionary Baptist Church to giveaway free masks and gloves to Acres Homes residents.

The distribution will be on Tuesday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. -- or until they run out.

APRIL 13 1:03 p.m. — Carnival Cruise Line said all North American trips have been canceled through June 27. In addition, all Carnival Sunrise seasonal itineraries out of New York are canceled through the end of 2020. Read more here

APRIL 13 12:32 p.m. — Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan has set up a website for residents to file complaints about price gouging.

“Unfortunately, there seems to always be people who will take advantage of a crisis situation,” said County Attorney Ryan. “Our office wants you to reach out to us to let us know about a price-gouging situation.” Read more here

APRIL 13 at 11:59 a.m. — Goldman Sachs and the LiftFund are helping Texas provide $50 million in loans to small businesses to help during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Greg Abbott announced at a press conference Monday morning.

Abbott said that $25 million of these loans come from a partnership between Goldman Sachs and LiftFund. Waldron said the funds will be distributed in Texas through the payroll protection program. Waldron also said the loans are designed to be partially, or entirely, forgiven if specific criteria are met.

According to Barrera, applications for the program will be going live on April 13 at www.liftfund.com. Read more here.

APRIL 13 at 11:30 a.m. — Watch live on this page and the KHOU 11 Mobile app - Texas Governor Greg Abbott today will announce a "small business initiative." Further details have not yet been released. Over the weekend, he extended the state's disaster declaration to secure resources as the fight against COVID-19 continues. At a press conference on Friday afternoon, Abbott said an executive order regarding plans to the reopen Texas businesses is expected to come sometime the week of April 12. Abbott didn't offer additional details on the executive order but said the state was focusing on protecting lives while also restoring livelihoods. He said the state is working with the White House on the process and any reopening would have to be gradual.

"You can't just open up all businesses all of the sudden, because if that were to happen we would see a rise in the coronavirus again," Abbott told KVUE. "So what we will be talking about next week is an executive order talking about how we're going to go about this process of opening up business, and that must include the appropriate medical strategies to make sure that we are not going to be increasing the spread of the coronavirus." Read more here.

APRIL 13 11:13 a.m. — Landry's restaurants offering free meals to first responders amid coronavirus pandemic: Firefighters, paramedics, EMT and police officers can get one free meal a day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Willie G's restaurant at 1605 Post Oak Boulevard. Get the details here.

APRIL 13 10:57 a.m. — Update from Harris County: Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan has set up a website for residents to file complaints about price gouging. During a disaster, the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act makes it illegal for a company to sell or lease fuel, food, medicine, lodging, building materials, construction tools, or another necessity at an exorbitant or excessive price.   The County Attorney’s website explains the details you need to provide to file a complaint. It explains the process the Office will use to investigate a complaint and how it will be dealt with if it is determined that price gouging occurred.

The County Attorney’s website with information on price gouging is: https://www.harriscountycao.org/coronavirus-consumer-complaints

Since the COVID-19 emergency declaration was issued, the County Attorney’s Office has received 115 price gouging complaints. Thirty-five have been investigated. Each case is looked at individually. Investigators will contact a store and determine how much a store paid for an item and how much they are marking it up. Some products are more expensive for a store to purchase now; higher prices are not necessarily price gouging. Five cease and desist letters have been issued so far. If a company refuses to comply with the letter, a lawsuit may be filed.

APRIL 13 10:25 a.m. — It's time for something positive: Pitbull released a new song Monday that has a message of hope amid the coronavirus pandemic. The new track titled, “I Believe That We Will Win (World Anthem)" speaks on not letting fear overcome you and coming together during difficult times. Read more here.

APRIL 13 9:44 a.m. — Virginia-based Smithfield Foods announced that it is closing its pork processing plant in Sioux Falls until further notice after hundreds of employees tested positive for the coronavirus — a step the head of the company warned could hurt the nation's meat supply. Read more here.

APRIL 13 9:03 a.m. — Navy reports first coronavirus death from Roosevelt: A member of the crew of the coronavirus-infected USS Theodore Roosevelt warship died Monday of complications related to the disease, the Navy said, adding to setbacks for the sidelined aircraft carrier. Read more here.

APRIL 13 5:36 a.m. — Have you checked your bank account? An extra $1,200 in the bank was a welcome surprise for many Americans over the weekend who weren't expecting stimulus checks until this week. The first IRS payments were deposited several days ahead of schedule on Friday night. By Wednesday, April 15, tens of millions of Americans will have received their checks. Read more here and get the info you need to know.

APRIL 13 4:40 a.m. — Kentucky police take license numbers, issue notices to church goers: Some religious leaders believe the lines between church and state were blurred this weekend. Kentucky state and city officials warned people against going to in person church services and even drive-in services in some cases. Governor Andy Beshear followed through on a promise he made Friday – there will be consequences for people who attend in person Easter services. Shortly after the service started at Maryville Baptists Church, Kentucky State Police troopers put notices on people’s cars saying their license plate has been recorded. The notice stated that local health department officials will be contacting those associated with the vehicle with self-quarantine documents. Read more here.

APRIL 13 4:11 a.m. — Model projects US has reached peaked: The United States has 557,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of midnight ET Monday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been 22,079 deaths. There have been more than 2.8 million tests for COVID-19 in the U.S. JHU says the U.S. currently has a mortality rate of 4%, based on confirmed cases. Only Germany (2.4%) is lower among the 10 countries most affected by COVID-19. A model by the The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington projected that Sunday would be the peak day for deaths from COVID-19 in the United States. The model predicts that the number of daily fatalities will begin to drop, but won't reach zero until June 22. The model is based on social distancing measures continuing. It also indicates that there are uncertainties that could lead to much higher daily death tolls. Worldwide, there have been 1.85 million cases and 114,215 deaths, according to JHU. Read more national and world updates here.

APRIL 12 11 p.m. — Researchers in Houston have mapped out areas of the big Texas cities where residents will most likely need high levels of care for COVID-19, such as hospitalization or ICU care. Authors of the study at the UTHealth School of Public Health examined census and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data for Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. They looked at populations of a certain age, and those who have chronic diseases, including heart, lung disease and diabetes. Get the full story here.

APRIL 12 10:55 p.m. — Houston Methodist in Katy has special unit to treat sickest COVID-19 patients: Some of the sickest coronavirus patients are being treated at a special facility in Katy. A highly infectious disease unit has been created by Houston Methodist at its continuing care hospital. Watch and read Ron Trevino's full story here.

APRIL 12 10 p.m. — Delta Air Lines has implemented a back-to-front boarding procedure. During general boarding, passengers will be invited to board by rows, starting at the back. The airline says the change will prevent passengers from having to pass each other to get to their seats. Read more national and world updates here.

APRIL 12 6:45 p.m. — Sixteen more inmates at the Harris County Jail tested positive for COVID-19, the Harris County Sheriff's Office reported on Sunday. There are now 25 inmates with the virus. HCSO officials said dozens of more inmates are experiencing symptoms and are awaiting test results.

APRIL 12 6:30 p.m. — Health officials in Brazoria County reported 12 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the county's total to 237. Click here for more information.

APRIL 12 5:59 p.m. — Easter Sunday in Houston: Local Christians didn't let the coronavirus stop them from celebrating Easter, instead they got creative and found new ways to connect in a world transformed by stay-home orders and social distancing. Read more here.

APRIL 12 5:50 p.m. — A friend and donor to President Donald Trump who the president had said was in a coma and seriously ill after becoming infected with the coronavirus has died. Read more here.

APRIL 12 4:00 p.m. — As of April 12 at 4 p.m., Harris County health officials said there are 3,629 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Houston and Harris County. Check out the county's map here, along with race/ethnicity data of deaths. Read more about the Harris County numbers here.

APRIL 12 2:53 p.m. — Fort Bend County public health officials are reporting 17 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number to 536. They also reported 24 new recoveries. 

RELATED: Map: Keeping track of Houston-area coronavirus cases

APRIL 12 2:03 p.m. — Gov. Greg Abbott has issued a proclamation extending the disaster declaration for all Texas counties an additional 30 days, the governor's office confirmed. Read more here.

APRIL 12 11:20 a.m. — Lakewood Church's 11 a.m. "virtual" Easter worship is airing now with celebrity and local leader appearances expected, having been invited by Pastor Joel Osteen. Osteen preached to an empty church building where normally thousands are seated due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Read more and watch here.

APRIL 12 11:15 a.m. — Fears of 'Wild West' as COVID-19 blood tests hit the market, Associated Press reports: Blood tests for the coronavirus could play a key role in deciding whether millions of Americans can safely return to work and school. But public health officials warn that the current “Wild West” of unregulated tests is creating confusion that could ultimately slow the path to recovery.

More than 70 companies have signed up to sell so-called antibody tests in recent weeks, according to U.S. regulators. Governments around the world hope that the rapid tests, which typically use a finger-prick of blood on a test strip, could soon ease public restrictions by identifying people who have previously had the virus and have developed some immunity to it.

But key questions remain: How accurate are the tests, how much protection is needed and how long will that protection last.

The blood tests are different from the nasal swab-based tests currently used to diagnose active COVID-19 infections. Instead, the tests look for blood proteins called antibodies, which the body produces days or weeks after fighting an infection. The same approach is used for HIV, hepatitis, Lyme disease, lupus and many other diseases.

Because of the relative simplicity of the technology, the Food and Drug Administration decided to waive initial review of the tests as part of its emergency response to the coronavirus outbreak. Read more national/world updates here.

APRIL 12 10 a.m. — Update from the Harris County Sheriff's Office: "The number of Sheriff's Office employees diagnosed with #COVID19 has climbed to 61, with 49 of those assigned to work in the jail. Four are hospitalized.  Please pray for our teammates and all those fighting to recover from this virus."

APRIL 12 9:25 a.m. — Pope Francis is calling for solidarity the world over to confront the “epochal challenge” posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Francis issued the appeal from a nearly-empty St. Peter's Basilica as Christians celebrated a solitary Easter blending the joyful feast day with sorrow over the virus’ toll. Families who normally would attend morning Mass in their Easter best and later join friends for celebratory lunches hunkered down at home. Police checkpoints in Europe and closed churches around the globe forced the faithful to watch Easter services online or on TV.  Read more and watch the Pope's Easter Mass here |   Read more national/world updates here.

APRIL 12 7:15 a.m. — The confirmed number of coronavirus cases in the United States was more than 530,000 just after 7:15 a.m. Central on Sunday, according to the count by Johns Hopkins University. There have been over 20,600 deaths in the U.S. and 32,000 recoveries. The U.S. has overtaken Italy for the highest death toll in the world. About half of the deaths happened in New York state, but concern is growing over the spread of the virus into the nation’s heartland. Hot spots are appearing in the Midwest, including nursing home deaths in Indiana and Iowa and deaths at the Cook County Jail in Chicago. Globally, confirmed infections have risen above 1.78 million. There were more than 109,000 deaths and 409,000 recoveries worldwide. Read more national/world updates here.

APRIL 12 4:30 a.m.British Prime Minister says he owes life to health staff: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he owes his life to the staff at the National Health Service who treated him for COVID-19. Johnson has made his first public statement since he was moved out of intensive care at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, saying he “can’t thank them enough. I owe them my life.”  Read more here | Read more national/world updates here.

APRIL 12 3:30 a.m. — EU official suggests holding off on summer trips: The head of the European Union’s executive branch is suggesting that people hold off on booking summer vacations for now, pointing to uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. Most planes are currently grounded and many countries have put wide-ranging travel restrictions and warnings in place. Some nations are considering first steps out of weeks-long shutdowns of public life but much of Europe is near a standstill. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tells Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper she "would advise waiting with such plans.” She added in an interview published Sunday that “no one can make reliable forecasts for July and August at the moment.” Read more national/world updates here.

APRIL 11 9:22 p.m. — The Texas Department of Criminal Justice will stop the intake of all inmates from county jails starting Monday.

"Following the disaster declaration issued March 13, 2020, statutory time requirements have been waived specific to the transfer of jail inmates into the TDCJ system," TDCJ spokesman Jeremy Desel said in a statement. "This action is necessary and temporary."

TDCJ says 72 of its employees, staff or contractors and 167 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. 

APRIL 11 8:22 p.m. — Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo shared a heat map showing which areas of the county are most affected by COVID-19.

View older updates here


Coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  Some patients also have nausea, body aches, headaches and stomach issues. Losing your sense of taste and/or smell can also be an early warning sign.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk for becoming seriously ill. However, U.S. experts are seeing a significant number of younger people being hospitalized, including some in ICU.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.

Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...

  • The air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Help stop the spread of coronavirus

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Eat and sleep separately from your family members
  • Use different utensils and dishes
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
  • Follow social distancing

Lower your risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.

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