HOUSTON — We are continuing to track the latest headlines and updates regarding the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Get the latest updates and top headlines below.
- Baby with COVID-19 recovers after nine days in Houston hospital
- Drug remdesivir proves effective against COVID-19 in US study
- Alcohol-to-go sales may go on ‘forever’ in Texas, Governor Abbott says
- Local governments can’t overrule State order for reopening businesses
- Galleria, Katy Mills, Houston Premium Outlets reopening Friday
- These popular Houston restaurants will not open on Friday
Latest COVID-19 updates
Here are the latest updates from around the Houston area and the world (all times are Central/Houston time):
APRIL 29 8:53 p.m. — President Donald Trump said Wednesday the federal government’s coronavirus social distancing guidelines will be “fading out” when they expire Thursday, counting on states taking charge as they pivot to reopening.
The administration says the cautionary guidance issued 45 days ago has been incorporated into recommendations given to the states on how they can begin gradually easing restrictions and reopening their economies. Read more here.
APRIL 29 8:13 p.m. — The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which oversees the state's prison system, reports its latest COVID-19 positives:
- 381 employees, staff or contractors
- 1,050 prisoners
Five employees and 12 prisoners have died as a result of the virus.
Forty-six employees and 156 prisoners have recovered.
APRIL 29 6:26 p.m. — Galveston beaches will reopen Friday while still encouraging social distancing among beachgoers who aren't from the same household. All beaches will be open seven days a week under normal hours. Beaches were closed back on March 17 due to COVID-19.
APRIL 29 5:25 p.m. — University of St. Thomas Houston will reopen its campus in the fall for onsite classes.
UST President Richard Ludwick said safety will be the top priority and they are preparing for every contingency.
“Our faculty, staff and students have risen to the challenge of online delivery through the summer, but now we’re looking forward to getting our community back together on campus,” Ludwick said. “This pandemic has been especially hard on our students.”
Ludwick said students who don’t feel ready to return to the classroom will be accommodated.
UST will also begin offering free tuition for three new associate degree programs for the fall semester, designed to help those in hard hit sectors in Houston develop skills in thriving career fields, Ludwick said.
APRIL 29 4:20 p.m. — About 2,000 families will get a special delivery this weekend, courtesy of the City of Houston's Food Access Program. The free grocery delivery program, led by the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, has already helped more than 700 families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Donations to the Houston Food Bank made the deliveries possible. METROLift employees, First Transit and Yellow Cab contractors loaded boxes of groceries onto METROLift vehicles and Yellow Cab minivans for deliveries.
Families receive shelf-stable goods and fresh produce as well as some basic home necessities.
Anyone interested in signing up, or learning more about the program can call 832-394-0814 or go to the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities website.
APRIL 29 3:15 p.m. — The Sugar Land Skeeters will host a two-day blood drive at Constellation Field on May 4 and 5 in partnership with the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center.
The drives will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Insperity Club.
The Skeeters say they will be taking precautions to ensure the safety of all donors. All staff present will be wearing gloves and masks while taking donation, and tables will be disinfected in between each donor.
Donations can be made by appointment only and people wishing to donate can click here to make their appointment today.
APRIL 29 2:45 p.m. — The City of Houston reports the Kashmere Multi-Service Center #COVID19 mobile testing site has reached capacity for the day. Visit http://HoustonEmergency.org/COVID19 to learn about #Houston testing options.
APRIL 29 2:05 p.m. — The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is grieving the loss of an employee that may be connected to the COVID-19 virus.
Correctional Officer James Coleman’s death is currently under investigation but he did test positive for COVID-19.
Coleman, 53, he felt ill at home and collapsed on Monday, April 27.
He was rushed to a local hospital where he passed away Tuesday.
Coleman worked at the Middleton Unit in Abilene and was a 20-year veteran of TDCJ.
Coleman is the fifth TDCJ employee or contractor to die from the coronavirus. Twelve prisoners have also died and another twelve deaths could be linked to the virus.
APRIL 29 1:15 p.m. — If you’re not ready to return to restaurants just yet, you can still get adult beverages to-go or even delivered to your home.
The TABC says restaurants can continue to sell booze-to-go and deliver it, as long as they follow the rules.
Governor Abbott took it a step further in a Tuesday night tweet: “Alcohol-to-go sales can continue after May 1. From what I hear from Texans, we may just let this keep on going forever.” Read more here.
APRIL 29 12:22 p.m. — Mayor Turner reported 96 new cases in the City of Houston. He also reported two more deaths, bringing the city's total death count to 52. Click here for a breakdown of cases in each Houston-area county.
The individuals who died:
- Hispanic woman in her 90s with underlying health conditions. She passed away on April 15.
- Hispanic man in his 70s with underlying health conditions. He passed away on April 24.
APRIL 29 12:12 p.m. — The City of Houston announces a new mobile COVID-19 testing site in Sunnyside that would operate through May 3.
The site is able to test 150 people per day. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or until tests become unavailable.
You must make an appointment before showing up at the site. You can make an appointment by visiting the Houston Health Department's website.
APRIL 29 11:26 a.m. — The Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released cleaning and disinfecting guidelines for schools and workplaces to help deal with the coronavirus.
The guidelines urge Americans to draw up plans to clean areas with soap and water and disinfectant. Recommendations include ensuring custodians have proper protective gear. Read more here.
APRIL 29 11:24 a.m. — A 3-week-old Houston-area infant in critical condition has now recovered from COVID-19.
The baby was saved thanks to quick action by doctors from The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, (UTHealth), according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine. Read more here.
APRIL 29 11:22 a.m. — Phase One of the “Open Texas” plan allows for libraries and museums to reopen Friday if they follow safety protocols.
APRIL 29 9 a.m. — US economy shrank at 4.8% rate last quarter as virus struc The U.S. economy shrank at a 4.8% annual rate last quarter as the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country and began triggering a recession that will end the longest expansion on record. The Commerce Department says the gross domestic product, the total output of goods and services, posted a quarterly drop for the first time in six years. Forecasters say the drop in the January-March quarter will be only a precursor of a far grimmer GDP report to come on the current April-June period, with business shutdowns and layoffs striking with devastating force. Read more national/world updates here.
APRIL 29 8:40 a.m. — Extended deadline for SSI recipients to claim $500 child stimulus money | If you get social security benefits of any kind AND you have a dependent, you need to go to the IRS page to get your $500 child credit. Get the details here.
APRIL 29 8:30 a.m. — US virus recoveries near 116,000 | There have been more than 1,012,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 8:30 a.m. CT Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. death toll is more than 58,000 while nearly 116,000 have recovered. Nearly 5.8 million tests for COVID-19 have been performed in the U.S. Worldwide, there have been more than 3.1 million cases with 217,000 deaths and 938,000 recoveries. Read more national/world updates here.
APRIL 29 8:23 a.m. — Costco to require face masks for customers at all stores | Costco says it will begin requiring customers to wear face masks at all its stores as part of efforts to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. "To protect our members and employees, effective May 4, all Costco members and guests must wear a mask or face covering that covers the mouth and nose at all times while at Costco.," read a statement on the company's website. Read more here.
APRIL 29 5:22 a.m. — Galleria, Katy Mills, Houston Premium Outlets reopening Friday. Here's how it will work | The Houston Galleria, Katy Mills and Houston Premium Outlets will all be reopening Friday after Gov. Abbott announced malls can reopen this week with 25 percent capacity. Simon Properties Group announced its properties will open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. To ensure shoppers' safety, each mall will be providing free CDC approved masks and individual sanitizing wipe packets upon request. Free temperature testing will also be available to shoppers. Read more here.
APRIL 29 5 a.m. — Local governments can’t overrule State order for reopening businesses in Texas | From KVUE: Even though some people are hesitant and businesses may be worried about reopening on May 1 in Texas, local governments can’t stop it from happening under Gov. Greg Abbott’s new executive order. The executive order doesn't require businesses to open nor does it require people to leave their homes, but it does allow them to if they want. Read the full story here.
APRIL 29 5 a.m. — Germany extends its worldwide travel warning | Germany is extending its worldwide travel warning until mid-June, saying the coronavirus situation is too dire to change the guidance. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says the warning, due to expire May 3, would be extended to June 14 because there has been no change to the danger posed by the pandemic. Maas says he will discuss the matter with European partners in the coming weeks. He says, “naturally we all hope we won’t need this travel warning after June 14.” Read more national/world updates here.
APRIL 28 9:45 p.m. — Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said the county will expand to a "vote-by-mail" system in time for the July runoff elections.
Hidalgo also said the county approved funding to do the same in the November General Election.
APRIL 28 8:15 p.m. — A $15 million fund is on its way to being distributed to Harris County residents who are in the most need during the coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.
APRIL 28 7:50 p.m. — Here's a heartwarming story for your Tuesday evening. An ‘Adopt-a-Senior’ group in Pearland is matching students with 'Fairy Grad-mothers.' So far, more than 600 high school seniors have found matches. Read the full story here.
APRIL 28 7:30 p.m. — Two inmates within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice have died at Hospital Galveston, likely from complications from COVID-19. There are 950 prisoners in the Texas prison system who have now tested positive, as well as 350 employees, staff or contractors.
APRIL 28 6:15 p.m. — It was nice while it lasted, but Harris County will no longer waive tolls, beginning Wednesday.
Harris County Commissioners Court voted Tuesday to resume toll operations on county toll roads.
In order to protect its customers and employees, HCTRA will continue to maintain “hands-free” toll collection. More details
APRIL 28 6:05 p.m. — Calhoun County reported they have 30 cases, three deaths and 15 recoveries.
APRIL 28 5:55 p.m. — A North Carolina dog named Winston is the first canine to test positive for the coronavirus in the U.S.
Three human members of the pug's family got COVID-19 in March and are part of a study by Duke University. Now, researchers will include Winston in their study.
APRIL 28 5:02 p.m. — Brazoria County is reporting seven new recoveries and 12 new COVID-19 cases. Seven of the new cases are inmates.
The county also reported another COVID-19 related death.
- Active Cases: 213
- Recoveries: 257
- Deaths: 6
- Total Cases: 476
APRIL 28 3:15 p.m. — Houston's top doctor urged residents to continue to be cautious even as Texas begins to open up on Friday.
"The governor has made his decision but that doesn't mean we can let down our guard," said Houston Heath Authority Dr. David Persse. "Wear your mask. Social distance. Wash your hands. Take control of your future."
Mayor Turner echoed that plea, asking everyone to wear masks to help protect the most vulnerable members of our community.
APRIL 28 3:05 p.m. — The City of Houston reported four more COVID-19 patients have died, bringing the city's total to 50.
Fort Bend County and Montgomery counties each reported two news deaths Tuesday and Harris and Brazoria counties have one.
In the Greater Houston Area, 187 patients have lost their lives to COVID-19. Out of a total of 8,971 cases area-wide, 2,819 have recovered.
APRIL 28 1:15 p.m. — There's a heartbreaking story out of New York City after a top doctor who treated many COVID-19 patients died by suicide over the weekend.
Dr. Lorna Breen was the medical director of the emergency department at New \York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital who had recently returned to work after being treated for the coronavirus.
Dr. Breen's father said she was just doing her job and it killed her. He wants her remembered as a hero. Full story here.
APRIL 28 1:05 p.m. — There were more than 1,000,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States by Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 56,000 deaths and more than 111,000 recoveries in the U.S.
The global total of confirmed cases is more than 3 million, with 212,000 deaths and nearly 906,000 recovered.
For most, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
APRIL 28 12:55 p.m. — The Children's Museum Houston will NOT open Friday even though Gov. Abbott has given museums the green light.
The team at the Children's Museum say they're working hard behind the scenes to create a whole new experience
They hope to open before the end of May. In the meantime, you can continue to enjoy their Daily Virtual Learning Broadcast Schedule:
10:15 a.m. - Mr. O on Facebook
11:15 a.m. - Story Time on Instagram
12:15 p.m. - Educator Moment on Facebook
1:15 p.m. - Educator at Home on Instagram
3:15 p.m. - Tot*Tunes on YouTube
***For our Virtual Learning playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPZCH1CZOF9Ih-aVjyPldQecshkl_i3lP
APRIL 28 12:02 p.m. — Doctors are seeing some COVID-19 patients in their 30s and 40s who are having strokes.
Mount Sinai alone saw five strokes in two weeks in patients under 50 with no symptoms or mild symptoms. More details here.
APRIL 28 10:59 a.m. — Many businesses and organizations in Texas will begin to at least partially reopen on Friday, even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. But the Houston Zoo will not be among them. Here's the tweet from KHOU 11 managing editor Bill Bishop: "The Houston Zoo says it is NOT part of Phase 1 to Open Texas. Consider it closed to the public until further notice."
APRIL 28 10:13 a.m. — US House of Representative will not return to Washington May 4 | Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md) on Tuesday announced to reporters that the US House of Representative will not return next week to Washington D.C. because of the coronavirus. Read more national/world updates here.
APRIL 28 10 a.m. — Germany cases uptick slightly after lockdown easing | Germany’s disease control center says the country’s rate of coronavirus infections has slightly increased but the number of new infections remains at a manageable level. Lothar Wieler, the head of the Robert Koch Institute says the “R” factor -- the number of people infected by every person with COVID-19 -- is now 0.96. Authorities have said they want to try to keep it below 1 to keep the pandemic manageable for the health care system. It had been around 0.7 before Germany eased lockdown restrictions on April 20 to allow smaller businesses to open, while keeping social distancing in place. It’s too early to say whether that move has led to the increase. Read more national/world updates here.
APRIL 28 9:15 a.m. — Update from Harris County:
Strategy Includes Recruitment of Hundreds of Contact Tracers, Increased Public Testing Capacity, and Continued Tracking of the Disease and of Healthcare Capacity
Today, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced a three-point framework designed to contain the spread of COVID-19 as a phased approach to reopen the economy across Texas begins to ramp up. The framework contains three key components, including increased tracing of positive cases, enhanced testing capacity, and continued efforts to ensure there is enough healthcare capacity to weather a spike in cases.
APRIL 28 9:12 a.m. — Wall Street’s rally carries into 3rd day as economies reopen | Stocks are rising in early trading on Wall Street as nations and some U.S. states move toward reopening their economies from lockdowns made to restrict the spread of the coronavirus. The S&P 500 was up 0.8% Tuesday and on track for its first three-day winning streak in a month. Markets are broadly higher in Europe and were mixed in Asia. Investors are also focusing on earnings reports that big U.S. companies will be reporting this week. Google parent Alphabet and Starbucks report their latest results after the closing bell. U.S. crude oil prices swung wildly again on concern about oversupply and a lack of storage space. (AP) Read more national/world updates here.
APRIL 28 8:59 a.m. — Britain working on virus contact tracing app | An official says the British government’s virus contact tracing app will be ready in two to three weeks. Britain and many other countries are developing mobile apps to help reduce infections after they ease lockdown restrictions. The app will use Bluetooth signals to anonymously log when a user comes into close contact with others. The data is kept on devices. But if users later develop COVID-19 symptoms or get positive test result, they can choose to upload the data to a central server so those contacts can be alerted. (AP) Read more national/world updates here.
APRIL 28 6:07 a.m. — New Zealand tames virus; France, Spain reveal lockdown exits | France and Spain, two of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic, are to lay out a roadmap for lifting strict lockdown restrictions as European countries seek to restart their economies, while signs emerged the virus has been all but vanquished in New Zealand and Australia. But on the other side of the globe, Brazil is emerging as a potential new hotspot for infections. And new doubts were raised over whether Japan would be able to host the already postponed Olympic Games next year. In Europe and in the US, when to reopen schools is emerging as the latest flashpoint as officials seek to ease lockdown restrictions. (AP) Read more national/world updates here.
APRIL 28 5:15 a.m. — The latest confirmed numbers from Texas and around the world: There are 3,052,245 million confirmed cases worldwide with 211,350 deaths and 896,669 recoveries, according to Johns Hopkins at this time. The U.S. leads the world with 988,469 confirmed cases - we will likely break a million today. Texas Health and Human Services reports that as of early Monday afternoon (the latest update at this time), we have 25,297 COVID-19 cases in the state with 663 deaths and an estimated 11,170 recoveries. Read more national/world updates here.
APRIL 28 5 a.m. — Trump urges states to consider opening schools before summer | President Donald Trump says states should “seriously consider” reopening their public schools before the end of the academic year, even though dozens already have said it would be unsafe for students to return until the summer or fall. Trump made the comments Monday in a call with governors discussing how to reopen their economies, among other topics. Read more here.
APRIL 28 4:02 a.m. — Tokyo Olympics unrealistic without a vaccine? | The head of Japan’s medical association thinks it will be difficult to hold the Olympics without an effective coronavirus vaccine. Read more here.
APRIL 28 2:20 a.m. — Turkey sends protective equipment to the US | Turkey has dispatched a planeload of personal protective equipment to support the United States as it grapples with the coronavirus outbreak. A Turkish military cargo plane carrying the medical equipment took off from an air base near the capital Ankara on Tuesday, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. A top official said Turkey is sending 500,000 surgical masks, 4,000 overalls, 2,000 liters (528 gallons) of disinfectant, 1,500 goggles, 400 N-95 masks and 500 face shields. Read more national/world updates here.
APRIL 28 2:10 a.m. — The US reopening is coming, but 'normal' is still a ways off | Everyone wants to know when it will go back to normal. As some governors across the United States begin to ease restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus, hopes are soaring that life as Americans knew it might be returning. But the plans emerging in many states indicate that “normal” is still a long way off. White House adviser Dr. Deborah Birx says social distancing will be with us through the summer. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warns of a “different way of life” until there is a widely available vaccine — maybe not until next year. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says: “There is no return to yesterday in life.” (AP)
APRIL 28 12:52 a.m. — Fears of virus seem far away as stores reopen in rural US | Parts of the U.S. are starting to lift closures, and some of the quickest to reopen have been rural states like Montana, Vermont and Alaska. The effects of the pandemic in smaller, more remote towns can seem a world away from cities grappling with overwhelmed hospitals, packed morgues and economies pushed to the brink. The consequences of easing restrictions in rural communities won’t be fully known for some time, and health officials said they will be watching closely for any resurgence of infections. But in places like tiny Roundup, Montana, nonessential businesses are reopening and many think it's the right thing to do after weekslong stay-at-home orders. (AP) Read more national/world updates here.
APRIL 28 12:20 a.m. — Cost makes nearly 1 in 10 leery of seeking COVID care | With some states gearing up to lift coronavirus restrictions, a new poll finds a potential obstacle to keeping new infections tamped down. Nearly 1 in 10 adults say cost would keep them from seeking treatment if they thought they were infected. The Gallup-West Health Healthcare Costs Survey out Tuesday found that younger people, members of minority groups, people with less than a college degree, and those making less than $40,000 a year were more likely to say they would avoid seeking treatment. That could create a blind spot for governors trying to calibrate economic reopening plans to keep watch for potential virus flare-ups.
APRIL 27 10:45 p.m. — HOA asks Conroe family to take down daughter's 'stay home' art from window | First Service Residential sent the family a violation notice calling 4-year-old Giuliana's colored pictures "unsightly articles" that would drop property values. Read more here.
APRIL 27 10:45 p.m. — Priest returns to Houston after spending time reading last rites to NYC hospital patients | Dr. Anthony Pham said the experience helped him put his own life in perspective. Read the full story here.
APRIL 27, 7:22 p.m. — Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has removed the $1,000 fine from her masks order after Gov. Greg Abbott said his executive order prevents the county from collecting fines. The judge released the following statement:
“Harris County is the epicenter for the Covid-19 crisis in Texas and face coverings are one of the only weapons we have to stop the spread of the virus and reopen safely. We have a face covering order today and we’ll still have a face covering order tomorrow. In practical terms, the governor’s order doesn’t change much because, like every order we’ve issued so far, we’d made it clear that the priority was education. The fine was there as a signal of how vital mask wearing is, and in many ways, the community got that message. It’s been disappointing to see folks politicize public health, and I hope this means they'll go back to focusing on health and safety instead of politics. As we have in the past, we will amend this order to conform with the governor’s.” Read more.
APRIL 27, 6:55 p.m.—The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said they have 325 employees, staff or contractors and 909 offenders who have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Click here for more information.
APRIL 27, 5:40 p.m. — Galveston County reported seven new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total in the county to 548.
There have been 24 new recoveries, bringing the total number of people who have recovered to 287.
Two more people have died:
- A female, age range 81-90, passed away April 23. She had pre-existing medical conditions.
- A female, age range 71-80, passed away April 26. She had pre-existing medical conditions.
APRIL 27, 5:30 p.m. — Brazoria County reported that they have 464 cases, of which 209 are active and 250 have recovered. Five people have died.
APRIL 27, 5:21 p.m. — Kroger employees will wear masks in an effort to provide a safe environment for customers and store associates.
The grocery store provided masks for associates and also welcomed employees to bring their own suitable masks to work if they prefer.
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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