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Coronavirus updates: Gov. Abbott announces new round of openings including bars, sporting events, bowling alleys

Here is a look at the latest COVID-19 headlines and updates for Monday, May 18 from Houston and around the world.

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

What's opening today: Today, May 18, marks the next wave of re-openings in Texas as part of Governor Greg Abbott's plan. While Texans are still advised to stay home if they are sick, everyone is asked to wash their hands frequently and practice social distancing. Here's what you can expect Monday: Gyms, nonessential manufacturing and work offices can reopen and operate at 25% capacity with social distancing in place. Gyms will have to follow special cleaning rules

Timeline: How Texas plans to gradually reopen

Get the latest updates and top headlines in our live blog below.

Monday's top headlines

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 Monday morning: There are 4,730,323 million confirmed cases worldwide. There are 315,482 deaths reported worldwide with about 89,564 deaths in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins at this time. As of its latest update, Texas Health and Human Services reports 47,784 COVID-19 cases in the state with 1,336 deaths. There are 9,465 confirmed cases in Houston and Harris County with 204 known deaths reported as of the county's latest update provided on May 17. No new deaths were reported Sunday.

MAP: Keeping track of Houston-area coronavirus cases

Latest COVID-19 updates

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

MAY 18 3:27 p.m. — The Houston Health Department reported 139 more coronavirus cases today, bringing the city's total to 5,795.

The health department also reported an additional death, bringing the city's death toll to 115. The individual who died is a white man in his 80s who had underlying health conditions. He passed away on April 22. Click here for a breakdown of coronavirus cases in each Houston-area county.

MAY 18 2:19 p.m.  Gov. Abbott announced bars, wine tasting rooms and craft breweries in Texas will be allowed to reopen Friday at 25 percent capacity. 

The governor also announced that restaurants, which had already been allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity, will be allowed to increase to 50 percent capacity starting Friday. Read more here.

More business allowed to reopen Friday, May 22 -- with restrictions -- include:

  • Bowling alleys
  • Bingo halls 
  • Skating rinks
  • Simulcasting
  • Rodeo events
  • Aquariums 
  • Drive-in concerts 

Businesses that reopened Monday, May 18:

  • Businesses in office buildings (max 10 employees or 25 percent capacity)
  • Childcare services
  • Youth clubs including YMCA, Boys and Girls Club
  • Gyms and workout facilities (25 percent capacity)
  • Massage parlors 
  • Tattoo shops
  • Piercing shops

Businesses that can reopen May 31:

  • Youth sports camps including little league 
  • Summer camps - daytime and overnight
  • Professional sports without in-person spectators
  • Zoos (allowed to reopen May 29)

More information about business allowed to reopen can be found on the governer's website

MAY 18 2:11 p.m.  Gov. Abbott released a graphic of the coronavirus positivity rate from April to date.

Credit: Gov. Abbott

MAY 18 12:45 p.m. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo released a statement on the Texas Supreme Court ruling that evictions and debt collections can resume this month amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I am deeply disappointed the Texas Supreme Court lifted critical protections for our residents. Restarting eviction and debt-collection proceedings right now will only deepen the well of desperation many families are experiencing across our county. These are hard-working families who, through no fault of their own, have lost irreplaceable income during this pandemic and may not qualify for federal assistance or eviction protections. Thousands of Harris County residents are already on the ropes, and becoming homeless will crush their chances for short-term recovery and long-term economic independence. Evicting families is also a threat to public health - we’re working day and night to stop the spread of this virus and, at a time when we’re asking residents to stay or work from home to limit spread, we cannot afford to contribute to a surge in homelessness."

MAY 18 11:45 a.m. — HISD free food giveaway at NRG Stadium set for this afternoon | The giveaway will now be held from 2 to 7 p.m. in the yellow lot after it was originally scheduled for Saturday. The event was postponed due to weather. There will be 8,500 free meal packages given way. The event is sponsored by Houston ISD and the Houston Food Bank.

MAY 18 10:15 a.m. — Reminder! Overnight camping is now allowed at Texas State Parks effective May 18 | Visitors will be required to pre-purchase permits, and social distancing requirements are in place. Read more here.

MAY 18 9:40 a.m. — Moderna Inc. says COVID-19 vaccine results 'positive' | Moderna Inc., a Cambridge, Massachusetts drug maker saw their stock value rise Monday by 13.795 to 80.485 on Wall Street after they announced Monday morning that phase 1 data on an experimental coronavirus vaccine was "positive."  The company said that healthy volunteers who were vaccinated in a clinical trial for the experimental vaccine saw a response in their immune systems. The drug maker said the shots were well tolerated and generally safe. Read more here

MAY 18 9:35 a.m. — COVID-19 response integrated into Resilient Houston plan | The Resilient Houston plan, the guide to the city's response to this public health crisis and associated economic impacts, has been updated to include a COVID-19 addendum. Mayor Sylvester Turner made the announcement in a statement released Monday morning. Resilient Houston is the city's strategy for responding and recovering from “unexpected shocks and systemic stresses,” such as a hurricane, flooding, cyberattacks, or terrorism. Read more here.

MAY 18 9:15 a.m. — Previously delayed Selena XXV celebration concert canceled |  San Antonio's Selena tribute concert has been canceled amid the rising concerns surrounding the coronavirus. It was previously slated for May 9, but then Q Productions CEO Suzette Quintanilla said the concert would be rescheduled for a later day. Now, the event has been canceled completely. “After carefully reviewing all the options during these challenging times, the decision has been made to cancel the Selena XXV Tribute Concert. This decision did not come easy. The future is unpredictable and we feel we cannot responsibly create an event of this magnitude for the fans. Thank you all for understanding," said Suzette Quintanilla. Read more here.

MAY 18 8:45 a.m. — Cafe Du Monde's French Quarter location to reopen Tuesday | As the city prepares to enter phase one of its reopening, many businesses are trying to figure out the best approach to operate in an environment still dominated by the coronavirus.  Café du Monde is among them.  The world famous coffee stand bounced back from a previous disaster, but this time, the unknowns are all around.  Read more from WWLTV here

MAY 18 8:41 a.m. — Stocks open higher on Wall Street, extending global gains |  Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street, extending a global rally as the U.S. market bounces back from its worst week in two months. The S&P 500 rose 2.5% in the first few minutes of trading Monday. Investors were enouraged to see that European countries were taking more steps to lift lockdowns put in place to contain the coronavirus outbreak. Over the weekend Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell expressed optimism that the U.S. economy could begin to recover in the second half of the year. Once the outbreak has been contained, he said, the economy should be able to rebound “substantially.”  (AP)

MAY 18 7:45 a.m. — China to provide $2 billion to help with virus pandemic | China will provide $2 billion over two years to fight the coronavirus pandemic and the economic fallout from it, President Xi Jinping said Monday, rallying around the World Health Organization even as the United States has slashed funding for the U.N. health agency and sought to undermine its credibility. The European Union's 27-member bloc and other countries, meanwhile, called for an independent evaluation of WHO's initial response to the coronavirus pandemic “to review experience gained and lessons learned.” Read more here (AP)

MAY 18 2:39 a.m. — Japan plunges into recession as US states start opening up | Japan’s economy plunged into recession in the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic squelched business activity, while leaders in the U.S. and Europe weighed the risks and rewards of lifting COVID-19 restrictions knowing that a vaccine could take years to develop. China, which reported just seven new cases on Monday, maintained tighter social distancing rules in parts of the northeastern province of Jilin after a cluster of cases of unknown origin turned up in the area. That came as governments worldwide and many U.S. states struggled with restarting economies battered by the pandemic. India reported its biggest single-day surge in cases, giving it the most in Asia.  (AP)

MAY 17 11:14 p.m. — Thousands defer plans to leave the military during crisis | Army Sgt. Antonio Gozikowski had been planning to leave the military and head to college to study dentistry. But the coronavirus is forcing universities to consider virtual or reduced schooling this fall. Gozikowski is stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, and has decided to extend his military service for six months under a new Army program. Across the military, uncertainty about future jobs or college opportunities is driving more service members to re-enlist or at least postpone their scheduled departures. As unemployment, layoffs and a historic economic downturn grip the nation, the military is looking much more appealing with its job security, steady paycheck and benefits. (AP)

MAY 17 10:30 p.m. — 'The virus is still everywhere': Coronavirus cases continue to climb as Texas moves forward with reopening | Restaurants, museums, malls and movie theaters have now been open for two weeks in Texas. Phase 2 of Texas' reopening plan will open many more businesses.

"You need to recognize that the virus is still everywhere," infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Hotez said. Hotez said the state is still in the middle of the pandemic. The data backs it up. During phase 1, cases didn't go down. They went up. Read the full story here.

MAY 17 9 p.m. — Former Astros star, manager Art Howe discharged from hospital as he battles COVID-19 | Art Howe, former Houston Astros third baseman and manager, has been discharged from the hospital as he battles COVID-19. Howe, one of the more popular Astros from the 1970s and 1980s, was in the ICU earlier this week with COVID-19. KHOU 11 Sports’ Matt Musil said Howe left the hospital Sunday and is recovering at home. Howe said he is feeling better. his blood pressure is "back in line," his fever has dropped and his oxygen level is better. The former Astro still has pneumonia and will isolate for about a week. Read more here.

MAY 17 5:09 p.m. — Galveston County Health District reports 1 new COVID-19 case, bringing the county's total to 702.

MAY 17 4:35 p.m. — Brazoria County is reporting 40 new COVID-19 cases and the death of an inmate related to coronavirus.

MAY 17 2:22 p.m.   Gov. Greg Abbott announced he will be speaking on Texas' continued safe and strategic opening on tomorrow, May 18 at 2 p.m. 

MAY 17 2:01 p.m.  The Houston Health Department reports 316 new coronavirus cases. This is a combined two-day total due to a computer system issue yesterday. There are no new deaths reported, leaving the city's total death count due to coronavirus to 114. 

MAY 17 12:35 p.m. L’Auberge Casino and Resort in Lake Charles announced their facilities will be reopening on Monday. The casino will reopen on Monday, May 18 at 6 a.m., staff said in a news release. Read more here

MAY 17 10:55 a.m. — UT researcher says hospitals should prepare for surge in the coming weeks | As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, so does the number of deaths and hospitalizations. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Travis County's death rate is the highest among the five largest counties in the state with 3.1%. "I think it's important for people to continue to realize that we're still in the midst of a pandemic," said Dr. Spencer Fox Dr. Spencer Fox is part of the University of Texas COVID-19 modeling consortium team. He helped create the UT COVID-19 mortality projection model. Read the full story from KVUE right here.

MAY 17 10 a.m. — After delay, Space Force launch salutes frontline workers  | Today's launch was dedicated to workers on the frontlines of our country's fight against the coronavirus and the people who've lost their lives to the virus. A few days before launch, a crew placed a message on the side of the rocket in their honor. It reads "In memory of COVID-19 victims and tribute to all first responders and frontline workers. AMERICA STRONG". Read more and see video here.

MAY 17 8:45 a.m. — NFL teams can reopen facilities Tuesday if state and local policies allow, commissioner says | NFL teams can begin reopening their facilities on Tuesday if state and local governments will allow it, according to a memo sent to the 32 teams Friday by commissioner Roger Goodell that was obtained by The Associated Press.  But Goodell stressed that the clubs must be "in compliance with any additional public health requirements in their jurisdiction, and have implemented the protocols that were developed by (league medical officer) Dr. (Allen) Sills and distributed to all clubs on May 6." Facilities have been closed since late March due to the coronavirus pandemic. This week, each team was required to submit a plan to the league for reopening its training and practice facility. (AP)

MAY 17 8:45 a.m. — Italy announces plans to lift travel restrictions as infection rate falls | After several months in lockdown, Italy has announced plans to lift its coronavirus travel ban. The country, an epicenter of the pandemic, plans to be mostly reopened within the next few weeks, with strict health guidelines.  The Italian government plans to allow travel to and from the country beginning June 3, according to a new decree signed Saturday by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Citizens will also be able to travel freely within the country starting that same day.  Certain travel may still be limited based on disease risks, which will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. People who have tested positive for COVID-19 will still remain under strict quarantine orders.  (CBS NEWS)

MAY 17 8:28 a.m. — European leaders are blunt: A vaccine won't come soon enough |  In separate, stark warnings, two major European leaders have bluntly told their citizens that the world needs to adapt to live with the coronavirus and cannot wait to be saved by the development of a vaccine. Read the full AP story here

MAY 17 7:12 a.m. — With no leader, commission overseeing virus relief struggles | It's been seven weeks since Congress unleashed more than $2 trillion to help deal with the coronavirus crisis, and seven weeks since lawmakers created an oversight commission that's supposed to keep track of how all that money is spent. But today, that commission remains without a leader. Four of its five members have been appointed, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell haven't agreed on a chair. So the commission is rudderless as the federal government pumps unprecedented sums into the economy. The four members can still do oversight work, but they can't hire staff or set up office space, and haven't met as a group. (AP)

MAY 17 6:52 a.m. — 'COVID toes,' other rashes latest possible rare virus signs | Skin doctors suddenly are looking at a lot of toes as concern grows that for some people, a sign of COVID-19 may pop up in an unusual spot. They’re being called “COVID toes"— red, sore and sometimes itchy swellings on toes. The American Academy of Dermatology says don’t race to the emergency room if toes are the only worry. It issued advice earlier this month that a telemedicine check is the first step for people wondering if they have “COVID toes” and who have no other reason for urgent care.  (AP)

RELATED: Got 'COVID toes?' Don't panic. You may not have COVID-19.

MAY 17 4:04 a.m. — As mosques reopen in West Africa, COVID-19 fears grow | A growing number of mosques are reopening across West Africa as governments find it increasingly difficult to keep them closed during the holy month of Ramadan. Senegal and Niger have allowed their mosques to reopen, and Liberia does so starting Sunday. Several states in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, have also signaled a reopening even as cases across the country are now above 5,000 even with limited testing. Critics fear resuming these mass public gatherings is particularly risky in West Africa because countries here have fewer medical resources to treat a spike in COVID-19 patients. (AP)

MAY 16 11 p.m. — Experts see surge in mental health issues as coronavirus uncertainty continues | In the last two months, we’ve all adjusted to the changes the fight to stop the spread of coronavirus has had on our everyday lives. For some, though, the direct and indirect consequences of the pandemic have taken an even harder toll on their mental health. The ripple effects COVID-19 has had on society are unmatched. Read more here

MAY 16 8:30 pm. — HPD detective battling COVID-19 released from hospital |  A detective with the Houston Police Department battling COVID-19 has been discharged from the hospital. Detective Ramon “Ray” Cervantes was discharged Saturday after 45 days at the hospital. He’d been in intensive care fighting the virus since April. Read more here

MAY 16 8 p.m. — Obama criticizes coronavirus response in online graduation speech | Former President Barack Obama on Saturday criticized U.S. leaders overseeing the nation's response to the coronavirus, telling college graduates in an online commencement address that the pandemic shows many officials "aren’t even pretending to be in charge.” Read more here

MAY 16 4:51 p.m. — Galveston County Health District reports 5 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the county's total number of cases to 701. The county's total number of recoveries remains at 434.

MAY 16 3:20 p.m. — The state reported 1,801 additional lab-confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus among Texans on Saturday, bringing the total to 46,999. There are also now a total of 1,305 coronavirus-related deaths, up 33 from Friday.

The 1,801 new cases amount to the biggest single-day jump in novel coronavirus diagnoses in Texas. The spike can at least partially be attributed to an outbreak in Amarillo. According to state leaders, at least 700 newly confirmed cases were reported in that community alone. For a few weeks, the state has been working to begin testing employees of meatpacking plants in the area, and the results are now being reported, the state says.

View previous/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.

Get complete coverage of the coronavirus by texting 'FACTS' to 713-526-1111.

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