HOUSTON — We are continuing to track the latest headlines and updates regarding the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
County Judge Lina Hidalgo has amended the Stay Home, Work Safe Order to allow small gatherings for religious services. But they must follow CDC guidelines.
The IRS and the Treasury Department say Americans will start receiving their economic impact checks within the next few weeks. The Treasury told CBS News that between 50 million to 70 million Americans will receive the payments through direct deposit by April 15.
Get today's latest updates below.
Today's top headlines
- Judge Hidalgo amends Stay Home order to allow small religious gatherings that follow CDC guidelines
- How Houston-area counties rank among Texas counties with coronavirus cases
- H-E-B, Walmart, Target, Costco among Houston-area stores making changes to help stop the spread of COVID-19
- Coronavirus crimes: Houston police tracking cases of stolen COVID-19 supplies
- How to make your own face mask without a sewing machine
Here are the latest updates from around the Houston area and the world (all times are Central/Houston time):
APRIL 4 8:50 p.m. – Health officials report the first COVID-19-related death in Galveston County.
Officials said the resident was a 81- to 90-year-old woman who had pre-existing medical conditions.
“We are saddened to report this news and we offer our heartfelt condolences to her family during this very difficult time,” said Galveston County Local Health Authority Dr. Philip Keiser.
APRIL 4 8:20 p.m. – The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which oversees the state's prison system, reports 27 cases of COVID-19. Of those, 20 are TDCJ employees, six are inmates and one cases is in a transitional facility. The agency reports there are 41 inmates in medical isolation who have tested positive or whose test results are pending.
APRIL 4 7:50 p.m. – President Donald Trump is warning that the U.S. is facing the “toughest” weeks ahead as the rise in coronavirus cases accelerates. “There will be a lot of death,” he says.
But after the somber start to his daily briefing on Saturday, he has come back again and again to his desire to get the country open for business. He said, “We have to open our country again. We don’t want to be doing this for months and months and months. This country wasn’t meant for this.”
Trump, who met earlier Saturday with the heads of major sports leagues, said he wants to get the fans back in arenas as soon as possible. He also talked about wanting people to be able to go to restaurants again.
APRIL 4 7 p.m. – President Donald Trump met by phone with many U.S. pro sports leaders Saturday to discuss how that industry has been affected by the global coronavirus pandemic, saying he was looking forward to the resumption of competitions “as soon as we can.” More here.
APRIL 4 6:30 p.m. – More than half a million Texans have filed unemployment claims in the last 18 days due to COVID-19, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. If you're struggling applying for benefits, the TWC is working to ease the burden.
APRIL 4 6:09 p.m. – Three more people have died in Fort Bend County due to the coronavirus, public health officials said this afternoon. Officials didn't provide any information about those deaths. The county also had 13 new cases, bringing a total to 268, and another recovery.
Meanwhile, Galveston County is reporting 86 new positive cases, bringing the county's total to 222. Of those new cases, 70 are linked to a nursing home in Texas City, where 83 residents and staff have tested positive for COVID-19.
METRO is reporting an employee from its administration building has tested positive. The employee, METRO officials said, had no interaction with the public and was last at work on March 20.
APRIL 4 5:29 p.m. – Public health officials are investigating reports of a potential coronavirus spread at an assisted-living facility in southeast Harris County. Read more here.
APRIL 4 5:05 p.m. – Houston Rockets forward PJ Tucker just released a limited-edition clothing line called the COVID-19 Capsule. All proceeds from a 72-hour online sale will benefit the Houston Food Bank to help provide meals for those in need. More here.
APRIL 4 4:50 p.m. – Harris County is reporting 75 new positive cases Saturday. The count doesn't include new cases within the city of Houston.
APRIL 4 3:30 p.m. – Brazoria County is reporting eight new positive COVID-19 cases, bringing the county's total to 144 as of Saturday afternoon. There have been 25 recoveries in the county.
APRIL 4 3:29 p.m. – A jailer at the Harris County Jail has tested positive for COVID-19, making the 16th employee for the Harris County Sheriff's Office to test positive for the coronavirus. The man is in his 40s. He's the sixth jailer who's worked at the jail at 1200 Baker Street to test positive, the sheriff's office reports.
APRIL 4 3:20 p.m. – In an effort to help with social distancing and slow the spread of the coronavirus, Houston’s BCycle program is closing 12 of its stations at various city parks.
Those parks are:
- Sabine Bridge
- Eleanor Tinsley Park
- Spotts Park
- Jackson Hill & Memorial
- Lost Lake
- Centennial Gardens
- Hermann Park Lake Plaza
- Hermann Park Bill Coats Bridge
- Hermann Park/Rice U METRORail
- Memorial Park Picnic Loop
- Memorial Park Running Center
- Stude Park
Houston BCycle is also expanding its cleaning efforts and providing sanitation for riders. Officials are asking riders who use the bike share to stay at least six feet away from others.
“We want to continue to serve riders for essential trips as a single-person and small group transporation and recreation option, and we need people to use bike share responsibly,” said Beth Martin, Houston BCycle executive director.
APRIL 4 3:02 p.m. – Montgomery County Public Health District reports 12 more people have tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the area to 142. Officials said 20 people have made a full recovery.
APRIL 4 1:33 p.m. – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced a man in his 60s with underlying medical conditions has died from COVID-19. This brings the death toll due to coronavirus to nine in the city of Houston. Click here for the number of coronavirus cases in Houston and surrounding counties.
APRIL 4 1:21 p.m. – An inmate in her 20s has tested positive for COVID-19 after giving birth while in custody at the Montgomery County Jail.
Medical staff noticed the inmate was showing coronavirus symptoms while she was in induced labor from March 31 – April 1. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl and was later tested, officials confirmed.
Six jail employees have been sent home for self-quarantine as a precaution, but the sheriff’s office said they aren’t showing any symptoms.
APRIL 4 1:11 p.m. – Target is donating anti-viral and N95 respirator masks to first responders and healthcare professionals at more than 50 organizations across the country. The company is also donating an additional 2 million KN95 respirator masks to the medical community.
APRIL 4 12:21 p.m. – Congressmen Gene Wu and Al Green will be handing out free surgical masks at two separate drive-thru events this weekend.
Green will be giving out mask Saturday starting at 1 p.m. outside the Southern News Group office at 11122 Bellaire Blvd. He plans to issue 10,000 procedural masks to local healthcare workers and first responders.
Wu's event is Sunday from 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. at Sharpstown Park, 6855 Harbor Town Dr. These masks are for healthcare workers, seniors and individuals with compromised immune systems. There’s a limit of two masks per person.
APRIL 4 12:05 p.m. – A message from Harris County Public Health: Regardless of your immigration status, free screening and testing for #COVID19 is available. People who have symptoms should seek medical attention. Start by using the online screening tool➡️checkforcorona.com If there's no computer access, call 832-927-7575.
APRIL 4 11:51 a.m. – Justin Verlander has joined the list of Houston athletes who are paying it forward to help those affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
The Houston Astros pitcher and his wife Kate Upton posted a video on his Instagram page that revealed he will be donating his MLB paychecks to different organizations who are supporting those in need since the MLB has announced to keep paying players while the season is suspended due to the pandemic. Read more here.
APRIL 4 10:55 a.m. County Judge Lina Hidalgo has amended the Stay Home, Work Safe Order to allow small gatherings for religious services. But they must follow CDC guidelines.
Churches weren’t classified as essential businesses in the county’s original Stay Home Order, which runs through April 30.
The change is in response to Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order allowing religious gatherings as long as they abide by CDC guidelines. More details.
APRIL 4 9:22 a.m. – The Delta Air Lines pilots union says over 50 pilots have voluntarily reported via text message that they have tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Delta reported earlier this week that a ground handler in Detroit died of complications from COVID-19. The airline has confirmed that some employees have tested positive for the new coronavirus, but is not confirming specific numbers, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
APRIL 4 8:18 a.m. – The number of U.S. deaths from COVID-19 were more than 7,100 at 8 a.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, according to numbers from Johns Hopkins University. More than a quarter of those are in New York City.
The worldwide total of confirmed COVID-19 cases is just over 1.1 million with almost 60,000 deaths and 233,000 recoveries.
APRIL 4 8:15 a.m. – The Mega Millions Consortium, the national group that oversees the Mega Millions game, has announced changes to the game. Under the new game rules, jackpots for the national Mega Millions game will be determined on a drawing by drawing basis based on ticket sales and interest rates. Read more here.
APRIL 4 6:37 a.m. – Spain has reported 809 more deaths over the last 24 hours, for a new tally of 11,744 fatalities from the pandemic.
Spain’s Health Ministry says Saturday that its total number of infections has reached 124,736. That is an increase of 7,026 infections from Friday, which is slightly down from the previous 24-hour period as the rate of the outbreak decreases in the country.
APRIL 4 6 a.m. – The singer P!nk tested positive for COVID-19, she said Friday, also announcing that she is donating $500,000 each to two emergency funds. Read more here.
APRIL 3 10:11 p.m. – A Texas congressman is saying another stimulus package could be passed by Congress. "We're talking about it right now," said U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas.
Allred said Congress is already discussing another stimulus package to give more direct payments to individuals, help small businesses and assist towns with populations under 500,000. Read more here.
APRIL 3 7:45 p.m. – Disney is shifting the release dates for nearly all of its big-budget movies, and it's going to send one straight to its streaming service. Six Marvel movies are also affected. See the new schedule.
APRIL 3 7:35 p.m. – H-E-B and Walmart are implementing new rules to slow the spread of the coronavirus. H-E-B will begin providing masks and gloves to all its employees who are working.
Walmart, meanwhile, is limiting the number of customers it will allow into its stores at a given time.
The changes at both stores go into effect Saturday, April 4.
APRIL 3 6:54 p.m. – Rosenberg Mayor William Benton has amended the city's disaster declaration to require social distancing. Everyone within the city limits must now adhere to the CDC's guidelines of not gathering in crowds of 10 or more people and keeping at least six feet of space between people not residing in the same household. People who don't follow the order, Benton noted, face up to a $1,000 fine, up to 180 days in jail or both.
APRIL 3 6:32 p.m. – The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation donated 100,000 brand new children’s books to HISD this week.
The Foundation bought the books to help bridge the learning gap while schools and libraries are closed across the city due to the coronavirus.
The books were distributed to families of children in pre-K through eighth grades across 50 HISD schools as they picked up curriculum and instruction packets for distance learning.
APRIL 3 6:03 p.m. – Galveston City Council has extended several emergency orders until April 30 to limit the spread of COVID-19. Those include the city's stay-at-home order, public beach closures, and restrictions on hotels, short-term rentals, bars and restaurants. Here's more information on the orders.
APRIL 3 6:03 p.m. – The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has extended its deadline for people wishing to refund their carnival tickets. The new deadline is April 10 at midnight. You can request a refund or roll your tickets from this year to the 2021 HLSR. Tap here for more details.
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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