HOUSTON — We are continuing to track the latest headlines and updates regarding the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Today's top headlines
- Mayor Turner on governor allowing some church services: 'If the building's on fire, don't go into the building
- Update: 2 residents of The Woodlands apartment complex under shelter-in-place order have died due to COVID-19
- HISD to relaunch free meal program on April 6 with centralized packing hub
- Houston's COVID-19 peak expected in early May
- New stay-at-home order in Galveston County in place through end of April
List: Where you can get tested | Map: Local COVID-19 cases | Coronavirus symptoms | FAQ
Here are the latest updates from around the Houston area and the world (all times are Central/Houston time):
APRIL 1 9:19 p.m. — Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo tweeted Wednesday, confirming the department's 14th case of COVID-19. He said the man has been hospitalized.
APRIL 1 9:09 p.m. — Fort Bend County Judge KP George has extended the county's "Stay Home to Save Lives" Order until the end of April.
APRIL 1 7:05 p.m. — Three more COVID-19 positive cases were reported in Matagorda County, raising the total number of positive cases in the county to 32.
APRIL 1 7:00 p.m. — Four new COVID-19 cases were confirmed at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice: three employees and one offender.
- A Correctional Officer at the Jordan Unit in Pampa has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The 34-year-old worked at the facility on Friday, March 27, 2020, and was sent home after entry screening showed a 101.2 temperature. They were seen by a doctor and tested on March 28. They are at home in good condition in self-quarantine.
- A Correctional Officer at the Stringfellow Unit in Rosharon has tested positive for COVID-19. The 52-year-old last worked Thursday, March 19, 2020. They were admitted to a hospital and tested on March 20, 2020. The officer has been discharged from the hospital and is recovering in self-quarantine at home.
- A Laundry Supervisor at the Murray Unit in Gatesville has tested positive. The employee was tested by a physician on Monday, March 30, 2020, and remains in self-quarantine.
- An offender at the Stringfellow Unit has tested positive for COVID-19. The offender was taken to an outside hospital yesterday suffering from respiratory distress. They were tested at the hospital and placed in medical isolation. The test returned positive Wednesday, and they remain hospitalized in good condition.
In all, there have been 13 TDCJ employees, staff or contractors and three offenders in custody who have tested positive for COVID-19.
APRIL 1 5:55 p.m. — The official order releasing roughly 1,000 Harris County Jail inmates became effective Wednesday at 2 p.m.
In the order, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo ordered Sheriff Ed Gonzalez to compile a list of inmates eligible for release. The releases will begin later this week.
Hidalgo said the drastic action is necessary to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Tap here to read the qualifications for inmates eligible for release.
APRIL 1 4:50 p.m. — Galveston County has issued a new order to stay at home amid the global COVID-19 emergency.
The new order begins April 2 and is in place through April 30. The old order was set to expire on April 3. Read more here.
APRIL 1 4:50 p.m. — The hospitality industry has been especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic with millions out of work.
In response to the devastating decline in business, Hilton Americas-Houston hotel has temporarily furloughed 550 of its approximately 620-member team as of March 27, 2020. They will keep their health benefits.
The hotel, which is owned by Houston First Corporation, has not closed its doors and renovation of all guest rooms at the hotel will continue.
"Keeping our guests and employees safe is our top priority. Our goal is to manage through these challenging circumstances in a way that balances the needs of our employees and the hotel," Houston First said in a statement.
Houston First, which also operates the GRB Convention Center, also announced it's furloughing about 60-percent of its staff.
APRIL 1 4:40 p.m. — Waller County reported another COVID-19 case.
A man in his 30s who lives in the southeast part of the County (77493).
There are five confirmed cases in Waller County and three cases that are pending further testing.
APRIL 1 3:30 p.m. — There's good news from Montgomery County with an update on their first coronavirus patient. The Patton Village police officer, who's been hospitalized since early March, is finally improving. He had been in critical condition for weeks but is now in fair condition, according to the hospital.
The officer and two other local COVID-19 patients were in the same barbecue cook-off tent in late February.
The Montgomery County Public Health District also reported 17 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the total there to 110.
APRIL 1: 3:10 p.m. — The Houston Health Department reported 81 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, bringing Houston’s total to 458. Four people i Houston have died from COVID-19. The highest number of cases is in the 30-39 age range with 20-percent. Males make up 52% of the cases in Houston with females at 47% and 1% unknown.
APRIL 1 2:55 p.m. — HISD announced Wednesday it will relaunch the free meal program on April 6 with a centralized packing hub. The district says the new streamlined process will include increased safety measures.
Staff will pack food boxes at a central hub, which will then be delivered to distribution sites Monday through Friday. Each site will distribute 500 boxes per day. List of meal pickup sites here.
APRIL 1 2:20 p..m. — Two men who were residents at The Conservatory at Alden Bridge, an apartment complex for people who are 55 and older, have died, Montgomery County officials said Wednesday afternoon.
According to Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management, the deaths are coronavirus-related. One man was in his 80s; the other, in his 90s. No other information was released about their health.
A shelter-in-place order was issued for the Woodlands apartment complex on Monday after a dozen residents tested positive for COVID-19.
APRIL 1 1:45 p.m. — Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is pushing back against Governor Greg Abbott's decision to exempt some religious gatherings from his statewide Stay at Home advisory.
Under the order, Abbott said religious services should be conducted remotely. If that is not an option, the order allows for services as long as they comply with the CDC guidelines for social distancing.
Turner believes allowing church services could put lives in jeopardy.
"If you're engaging in socializing, hugging, hand-clapping, sitting next to one another, then you are putting yourself in harm's way," Turner said Wednesday. "And I know the faith-based community understands that. So, you know, I shouldn't have to tell you that if there's a building on fire, don't go into the building.". Exercise some common sense."
APRIL 1 1:05 p.m. — Mayor Turner said during a conference call Tuesday that Dr. @PeterHotez felt the COVID-19 peak in Texas would happen around May 2, assuming people continue practicing social distancing.
Mayor: As of 3/31, there are 377 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Houston, including eight firefighters, 12 HPD officers and 18 municipal workers Turner expects the numbers to rise with more testing.
APRIL 1 12:50 p.m. — The second city testing site opened Wednesday, doubling capacity to ~500 tests a day. Turner said they hope to expand as the feds provide more tests, PPE.
That second city site is open to anyone symptomatic, regardless of age. Call @HoustonHealth at 832-393-4220, go through their screening and, if you qualify, you'll get a code to get testing.
APRIL 1 12:37 p.m. — There is a long line of cars making their way their through a Baker Ripley food distribution drive-thru in Aldine. They say the demand is putting a strain on their resources.
APRIL 1 11:47 a.m. — Houston City council approved a three month agreement to lease 186 hotel rooms for quarantine space. They will be utilized first responders and municipal workers who cannot self-quarantine at home. Rooms will also be available for the homeless. Read more here.
APRIL 1 10:55 a.m. — Updates from KHOU 11's Adam Bennett covering this morning's Houston City Council meeting:
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says the number of cases among people ages 20 to 60 continues to grow so he has ordered the city's parks department to remove all basketball rims at parks' courts, more than 200 rims total. He says the city has had a number of complaints about people still playing basketball, a contact sport, despite the stay-at-home order. Parks are not officially closed, but the mayor said people should maintain a distance from each other when going out for a walk or run. Park equipment should not be touched.
“What we’re doing collectively is working. We just have to keep doing it for the next 30 days.” Mayor @SylvesterTurner praises regional social distancing efforts at this morning's city council meeting but warns COVID-19 cases could still rise w/o continued efforts.
APRIL 1 10:10 a.m. — Wimbledon has been canceled for the first time since World War II because of the coronavirus pandemic. Here's the message on their official Twitter account just now: "It is with great regret that the AELTC has today decided that The Championships 2020 will be cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic. The 134th Championships will instead be staged from 28 June to 11 July 2021." Read more here.
APRIL 1 10:02 a.m. — Update for all cruise ships: The U.S. Coast Guard has directed all cruise ships to prepare to treat any sick passengers and crew on board while being sequestered “indefinitely" offshore during the coronavirus pandemic. The new rules require daily updates on each ship's coronavirus caseload for vessels in U.S. waters, and come with a stiff warning: Any foreign-flagged vessels “that loiter beyond U.S. territorial seas" should try first to medically evacuate the very sick to those countries instead. Read more here.
APRIL 1 9:55 a.m. — Nashville nurse Angela Gleaves recently made this touching post on Facebook
APRIL 1 9:30 a.m. — The city of Cleveland reported that an employee tested positive for COVID-19. The employee has been isolated at home and currently experiencing only mild symptoms.
APRIL 1 9:19 a.m. — Good news from the Houston Humane Society today: Pet Food Pantry Drive-Through Service Re-opens Today! | "The Houston Humane Society created a free Pet Food Pantry service in response to these difficult coronavirus times. This drive-through service helps provide free cat and/or dog food to pet owners that are experiencing financial hardship due to being laid-off or being low income. The Pet Food Pantry was a very successful initiative, however, after the “Stay Home, Work Safe” Order issued by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, modifications were made in order to balance supply and demand and keep in line with social distancing restrictions. Now, the Pet Food Pantry is by appointment only and will serve up to 100 families a day. An enrollment form must be filled out in order to receive the free dog and/or cat food. This form can be found online at: https://www.houstonhumane.org/about-us/pet-pantry."
APRIL 1 8:39 a.m. — From the City of Houston: "The Houston Health Department will double its daily COVID-19 testing capacity when it opens its second community drive-thru test site for people with symptoms on Wednesday, April 1. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing – the common COVID-19 symptoms – can call the department’s COVID-19 call center at 832-393-4220 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. to get screened. They will receive a unique identification code and instructions on where to go for testing and how to obtain their test results. The community sites only accept people with the identification code obtained through the screening process. People showing up at the test sites without an identification code will not get tested." List: Where you can get tested
APRIL 1 8:34 a.m. — Waco Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon announced yesterday that the principal of G.W. Carver Middle School died early Tuesday morning after contracting COVID-19. Rest in peace, Mr. Perry. Read more here.
APRIL 1 8:13 a.m. — Update to a Texas story we first brought you yesterday: Company urged UT students to take Mexico spring break trip despite coronavirus pandemic - At least 28 University of Texas at Austin students tested positive for coronavirus after returning from a spring break trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Austin Public Health announced Tuesday. Read/watch the full update here.
APRIL 1 8:03 a.m. — National news from the AP: New York is the nation's deadliest hot spot, with more than 1,500 deaths statewide, most of them in New York City, which is bracing for things to get much worse in the coming weeks. A lifeline of health care support arriving in the city includes 500 paramedics and EMTs and 250 more ambulances, city officials said. Among those who died in the city was the first victim under 18, according to the city’s health department. Read more national/world updates here.
APRIL 1 7:57 a.m. — Another way to help save masks? A University of Houston professor is waiting for FDA approval of a waterproofing solution that he says can shield personal protective equipment such as N95 masks from the droplets that spread COVID-19. Read more here and watch the story.
APRIL 1 7:35 a.m. 1 — Small businesses may get COVID-19 relief loans as soon as Friday: Companies will be able to submit applications on Friday, with an approval process that's been stripped down from the one used for traditional business loans. Read more here.
APRIL 1 7:24 a.m. — A young Missouri mother wants her 'terrifying' case of the coronavirus to convince others to stay home - 'I would have not left my house if I knew how miserable this was'... read and watch her full story here.
APRIL 1 7:11 a.m. — Dow futures are currently down about 800 points after President Trump's warnings that we are in for a painful couple of weeks with more deaths and social distancing through the month of April. Read more national/world updates here.
APRIL 1 6:52 a.m. — Japan’s Prime Minister says Japan has banned entry from 49 more countries, including the U.S., Canada, all of China, South Korea and seven Southeast Asian countries. That brings the total number of countries banned from entering Japan to 73. Read more national/world updates here.
APRIL 1 6:31 a.m. — Houston-area update: Sugar Land’s Constellation Field to serve as donation site for personal protective equipment People can donate PPE at Constellation Field from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Monday through Friday, starting today. Read more here and get the details.
APRIL 1 5:38 a.m. — New numbers: The U.S. is quickly approaching 200K cases, and the Houston area now has more than 1,200 cases. Early Wednesday, the U.S. had 189,633 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 4,081 deaths from the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 7,100 people have recovered. At the rate the virus is spreading, it's likely the U.S. will pass the 200,000 mark in confirmed cases sometime Wednesday. It took the U.S. 68 days from the first recorded case on Jan. 19 -- according to the New England Journal of Medicine -- to reach 100,000 last Friday. The second 100,000 will be recorded in five days. Read more national/world updates here. | Map: Local COVID-19 cases
APRIL 1 5:30 a.m. — Having trouble filing an unemployment claim? The Texas Workforce Commission says it got 1.5 million calls in one day... leaders say it has shifted resources and done emergency hiring to help process unemployment claims. Get the full story here.
APRIL 1 5:05 a.m. — World News: Spain reports a new record of 864 deaths in one day while total infections broke the 100,000 mark, making it the third country to surpass that milestone behind the United States and Italy. Spanish health authorities said Wednesday that the total number of deaths reached 9,053 since the beginning of the outbreak. Total infections hit 102,136. But the 24-hour increase of 7,719 was 1,500 fewer than the increase from the previous day, offering hope that the contagion rate is stabilizing. Read more national/world updates here.
APRIL 1 3:05 a.m. — Business news: Wall Street futures down 3% on growing recession fears.. Asian shares mostly fell Wednesday, on continuing worries about the economic fallout from the pandemic as reports of coronavirus cases keep surging in various regions. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 dropped 4.5% to finish at 18,065.41. Read more national/world updates here.
APRIL 1 1:42 a.m. — More changes at Costco: In an effort to increase social distancing, Costco says it will temporarily start limiting the number of people who can enter its stores. Only two people will be allowed in for every membership card that is presented, according to the company's website. That means parents who normally haul their whole family to the store may have to leave some of them at home. Read more here.
APRIL 1 1:30 a.m. — More than 50 infected with virus at California nursing home: A Southern California nursing home has been hit hard by the coronavirus, with more than 50 residents infected — a troubling development amid cautious optimism that cases in the state may peak more slowly than expected. Cedar Mountain Post Acute Rehabilitation in Yucaipa has been told to assume that all of its patients have the COVID-19 virus, San Bernardino County Department of Public Health Director Trudy Raymundo said. As of Tuesday, 51 residents and six staff members had tested positive. Two patients have died, including an 82-year-old woman who had existing health problems. Read more national/world updates here.
APRIL 1 12 a.m. — Help from Russia: Russia has sent a planeload of medical aid to the United States amid the growing coronavirus pandemic. A military aircraft loaded with medical equipment and masks took off from Moscow early on Wednesday morning, according to the Defense Ministry. Footage from the Russian Defense Ministry showed boxes of equipment inside an Antonov An-124 Ruslan aircraft at Moscow’s Chkalovsky Airbase. Read more national/world updates here.
MARCH 31 10:21 p.m. — Houston's COVID-19 peak expected in early May .... The Stay Home Work Safe order for Harris County has been extended through April 30 and Houston-area schools will be closed until at least May 4. Read the full story about the latest projections here.
MARCH 31 8:50 p.m. — Matagorda County officials report that a man between the ages of 70 and 75 passed away at Matagorda Regional Medical Center with symptoms consistent with COVID-19. This is the second confirmed COVID-19 related death in Matagorda County.
MARCH 31 8:45 p.m. — Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, chair of the Congressional Coronavirus Task Force, will announce the launch of the third United Memorial Medical Center COVID-19 drive-through testing site.
The announcement will take place at 10 a.m. on Thursday at Forest Brook Middle School, 7525 Tidwell Road.
“We must not panic, but prepare,” Lee said in a statement Tuesday night. "We have surpassed 3000 deaths in the United States and there were more than 800 reports of deaths from coronavirus on Tuesday, March 31, 2020, the most deaths reported in a single day in the United States. With the announcement that up to 240,000 or more people in the United States will die from the Coronavirus, it is imperative that we keep increasing testing opportunities."
MARCH 31 7:40 p.m. — Eight HFD employees have now tested positive for COVID-19.
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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