We are continuing to track the latest headlines and updates regarding the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Another proposed massive rescue bill comes as the country continues to struggle with the health and economic crisis caused by the highly contagious virus, which has claimed more than 85,000 lives in the U.S. and caused at least 36 million people to lose their jobs. Just Thursday, the government reported that almost 3 million people filed jobless claims last week.
Get the latest updates and top headlines in our live blog below.
Today's top headlines
- Texas sees increase in COVID-19 cases two weeks after reopening began
- Dems push $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill toward House approval
- Trump unveils 'Operation Warp Speed,' predicts COVID-19 vaccine by year end
- Can COVID-19 be spread through poop? Rice University researcher says it's not a silly question
- VERIFY: Fact-checking this week's coronavirus claims
Get the latest COVID-19 headlines anytime by texting FACTS to 713-526-1111 or checking khou.com/coronavirus
The latest COVID-19 numbers
As of Friday morning: There are 4,444,670 million confirmed cases worldwide. There are 302,493 deaths reported worldwide with about 85,906 deaths in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins at this time. As of its latest update, Texas Health and Human Services reports 43,851 COVID-19 cases in the state with 1,216 deaths. There are 8,817 confirmed cases in Houston and Harris County with 193 known deaths reported as of the May 14 update.
Friday's COVID-19 updates
Here are the latest updates from around the Houston area and the world (all times are Central/Houston time):
MAY 15 6:25 p.m. — Katy ISD will be extending its curbside “Grab and Go” meal service throughout the summer with some modifications to distribution sites, effective May 26.
Since March 16, Katy ISD has served 766,453 meals to kids in the Katy area to support their nutritional needs as they learn, grow and thrive year-round.
The sites at Cinco Ranch High School, Hutsell Elementary, Williams Elementary and Tompkins High School will close for meal distribution during the summer. The last meal service at these locations will be Thursday, May 21.
MAY 15 5:15 p.m. — Due to the threat of inclement weather, the Houston Independent School District and Houston Food Bank are rescheduling the mass community food distribution planned for Saturday, May 16 at NRG to ensure the safety of families, staff, and volunteers.
The rescheduled mass community food distribution will be held on Monday, May 18, from 2 - 7 p.m. in the NRG Yellow Lot. It will be operated by the Houston Food Bank.
Families may also continue to visit HISD’s regular, weekday food distribution sites next week. Each site can distribute up to 500 bags — or 15,000 pounds of food — per day.
MAY 15 3:05 p.m. — Harris County has closed all #COVID19 testing sites today and tomorrow, May 16, due to the weather. They plan to open test sites in Katy & Baytown on Sunday. If you have a code, you can get tested at those locations on Sunday. Mobile testing will resume on Monday. Live radar
MAY 15 2:55 p.m. — Fort Bend County Judge KP George announced the closure of all county Covid-19 testing sites for the rest of today, Friday, May 15, and tomorrow, May 16, 2020 due to stormy weather.
“Unfortunately, we are temporarily stopping all Fort Bend County COVID-19 Test site operations to ensure both staff and those being tested are safe during the passing of the upcoming storms. We will begin testing at the earliest convenience after the storm passes our county to ensure everyone’s safety.," George said in a statement.
Everyone that has appointments scheduled for Friday and Saturday will be contacted to reschedule their appointments.
MAY 15 2:00 p.m. — Country star Keith Urban is used to playing massive stages full of lights, speakers and screens in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans, but his latest gig was mostly just him and two other musicians playing on a flatbed truck in front of about 125 cars.
Urban played the Stardust Drive-In movie theater, about 40 miles east of Nashville, Tennessee, Thursday night for a crowd of more than 200 medical workers from Vanderbilt Health. The full story here
MAY 15 1:42 p.m. — ExxonMobil Baytown Area is providing 30,000 gallons of free fuel to the @CityofBaytown for use in its first responder vehicles.
It's part of their effort to support the Baytown community in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.
MAY 15 12:30 p.m. — A barber who defied lockdown orders and continued to cut hair at a shop in New York over the past few weeks has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to health officials.
Ulster County Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Carol Smith said anyone who has received a hair cut from a Kingston barber in the past three weeks needs to be tested for the virus. Read more.
Tens of thousands of New Yorkers have died from COVID-19.
MAY 15 12:10 p.m. — President Donald Trump spoke from the White House Friday about developments in the race to create a coronavirus vaccine and doubled down on his prediction that the U.S. will have a vaccine by the end of the year.
The president detailed the Trump administration project dubbed Operation Warp Speed that will overlap studies of different candidates that are made differently and act differently. More details here.
MAY 15 11:22 a.m. — HISD Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan held a press conference where she discussed the district's graduation plans, summer school expectations and how the district is preparing for the fall school year.
Summer school will be held virtually from June 8 to July 2.
The district is still deciding what to do about the 2020-2021 school year. Dr. Lathan said there has been discussions about continuing school virtually or allowing students to come to school every other day. There is also talks of a year-long school year, but officials are still looking into other TEA options and waiting for more information from state leaders.
Dr. Lathan said she hopes to have a more definite answer in the next four weeks.
MAY 15 10:40 a.m. — Gov. Greg Abbott approved gyms reopening May 18. Gyms most operate at a 25 percent capacity and adhere to CDC guidelines. Some Houston-area gyms are planning to reopen Monday. Here's what you can expect.
MAY 15 10:15 a.m. — The head of the Food and Drug Administration said Friday his agency has provided new guidance to the White House after data suggested that a rapid COVID-19 test used by President Donald Trump and others every day may provide inaccuracies and false negatives.
Commissioner Steve Hahn said that if a person is suspected of having the disease caused by the coronavirus, “it might be worth, if the test is negative, getting a second confirmatory test. That’s what our guidance is about.” Read more.
MAY 15 9:05 a.m. — Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset said he believes enforcing social distancing will be 'almost impossible' during the "Go Topless Weekend" event on Bolivar Peninsula this weekend.. Read more.
MAY 15 8:05 a.m. — Having a COVID-19 vaccine by January is “a stretch goal,” but the head of the National Institutes of Health is gearing up for a master experiment to rapidly tell if any really work.
At least four or five possible vaccines “look pretty promising” and one or two will be ready to begin large-scale testing by July with others to follow soon, NIH Director Francis Collins told The Associated Press. Read more.
MAY 15 7:55 a.m. — U.S. retail sales tumbled 16.4% from March to April as business shutdowns caused by the coronavirus kept shoppers away, threatened stores across the country and weighed down a sinking economy. Read more.
MAY 15 7:20 a.m. — As a reminder, the Houston Museum of Natural Science is slated to open its doors this morning at 9 a.m. for the first time since it closed back on March 17 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More here.
MAY 15 6:00 a.m. — A congressional watchdog agency has agreed to investigate the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ oversight of homes for aging veterans following a surge of coronavirus deaths at the state-run facilities. Read more.
MAY 15 5:30 a.m. — Almost two months after the Tokyo Olympics were postponed, organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto said Friday he still could not give an estimate of how much the one-year delay will cost. Read more.
MAY 15 4:30 a.m. — Three COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites are opening today in the Walmart parking lots in Montgomery County. The sites are supported by Walmart, eTrueNorth and state and local officials to test anyone who meets CDC and state and local guidelines on who should be tested, including first responders, health care providers and others with symptoms of COVID-19 and those in high risk groups without symptoms. Those interested in being tested need to visit www.DoINeedaCOVID19test.com to see if eligible for testing and to make an appointment.
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MAY 15 4:00 a.m. — The Democratic-controlled House is pressing ahead Friday with votes on another massive rescue bill that would pump almost $1 trillion to state and local governments, renew $1,200 cash payments for individuals, and extend a $600 weekly supplemental federal unemployment benefit.
The first four coronavirus response bills were bipartisan measures that passed by sweeping votes, but Friday's measure — with a $3 trillion-plus price tag that exceeds the prior bills combined — promises to pass largely along party lines. Read more.
MAY 15 3:30 a.m. — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent an alert to doctors that warns of an inflammatory syndrome in children believed to be connected to the coronavirus pandemic.
The syndrome affects blood vessels and organs and symptoms include prolonged fever, abdominal pain and vomiting. Medical professionals say the syndrome appears to be an atypical Kawasaki-like disease, an illness that causes inflammation of the blood vessels throughout the body. Read more here.
MAY 14 8:07 p.m. — Good news for graduating seniors in Fort Bend County. The district is planning to host outdoor graduation ceremonies at Kenneth Hall Stadium from June 1-6. See the schedule for all high schools here.
MAY 14 7:47 p.m. — Another free food giveaway is planned this Saturday at NRG Stadium. Houston ISD and the Houston Food Bank are teaming up again to give out 8,500 meals. The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the yellow lot, weather permitting. Read more here.
MAY 14 6:38 p.m. — Protesting your property tax appraisal? You're not the only one. KHOU 11 Investigates found that in Harris County there's a 47% spike in protests from this time last year. "I have not seen protests jump at this level," said Harris County Chief Appraiser Roland Altinger, who's been with the agency for 32 years. Read more here.
MAY 14 5:30 p.m. — Bad news for beef lovers. Brisket prices are skyrocketing during the coronavirus pandemic, with prices for choice briskets rising from $1.65 to $3.33 a pound.
MAY 14 4:50 p.m. — The Houston Museum of Natural Science is reopening Friday after closing for nearly two months due to the coronavirus. Museum officials said they're opening safely and with social distancing measures in place. Only 1,000 people will be allowed inside the museum.
"We're working hard so no crowds build up," said Sumners. "You come in one open space and leave out another open space. All staff wear masks. We all get our temperature taken if we're an employee. The rest is up to you."
MAY 14 4:40 p.m. — Art Howe, one of the more popular Astros from the 1970s and 1980s, is in the hospital with COVID-19. KHOU’s Matt Musil spoke Howe, who is in the ICU. Howe, 73, told Musil that he tested positive last Tuesday and eventually the symptoms got so bad that he went to the hospital.
MAY 14 4:05 p.m. — More Houston area commuters will be able to ride METRO to work beginning Monday, May 18. Limited service on select Park & Ride routes will resume connecting riders traveling along all major freeway corridors to downtown.
A complete list of the schedules can be found by clicking this link.
Park & Ride - Downtown Destinations
Service will operate from 5- 9 a.m. for inbound trips and from 3- 7 p.m. for outbound trips.
Buses are scheduled to pick up passengers approximately every 15 minutes, with the exception of 236 Maxey/ Baytown which will run every 30 minutes.
There will be no midday or late night service.
Customers should allow extra time for travel as the buses may make more stops than usual.
Park & Ride - Texas Medical Center
Park and Ride routes serving the Texas Medical Center will continue operating on a regular weekday schedule. METRO continues to encourage riders to use public transit for only essential trips.
MAY 14 2:50 p.m. — The World Petroleum Congress, a major oil and gas conference slated to be held in December in Houston, has been postponed, organizers announced today. The conference, which organizers say is like the "Olympics" of the industry, is being rescheduled for Dec. 5-9, 2021.
"While we are disappointed the World Petroleum Congress has been postponed until December 2021,w e fully support the decision to delay the forum in light of the health and safety concerns stemming from COVID-19. We will continue working closely with local officials and the World Petroleum Congress in the coming months to host a safe and very sustainable event next year," said Bob Harvey, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership.
MAY 14 10:50 a.m. — Update from the City of Houston about Mayor Sylvester Turner | "Mayor Sylvester Turner announced today that he tested negative for COVID-19.
The mayor, some members of his staff, and several city council members got tested on Tuesday following revelations that Councilmember Letitia Plummer tested positive for the virus.
"I encourage Houstonians to get tested. It is a quick process, and it does not matter if you have symptoms or are asymptomatic. The results will help you take better control of your health during the pandemic," Mayor Turner said. "While my test result was negative, I will continue to practice social distancing and wear a face covering to do my part to stop the virus from spreading in our community."
The Houston Health Department and partner agencies offer several free COVID-19 test sites throughout the city, with some relocating weekly. To find a current list of free Houston testing sites, visit HoustonEmergency.org/covid19."
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.
Get complete coverage of the coronavirus by texting 'FACTS' to 713-526-1111.