HOUSTON — We are continuing to track the latest headlines and updates regarding the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Scroll down for today's other top headlines and the latest updates in our live blog.
Today's top headlines:
- 'Could be a turning point' | Harris Co. Judge says coming week is huge in keeping coronavirus from spreading
- HISD serves free meals to hundreds of families as district closes due to coronavirus concerns
- XFL: Seattle Dragons player tests positive for coronavirus; was in Houston, St. Louis games
- Disneyland resort donating excess food during closure
- H-E-B, Kroger changing hours at Houston stores to keep shelves re-stocked
- Trucking regulations waived in Texas to help stores restock after supply shortages due to coronavirus concerns
- East Tennessee woman who recovered from COVID-19 shares story, urges people to not panic
- Apple stores close due to COVID-19
- What is social distancing?
- 500K coronavirus test kits, 1 million masks to be given to U.S. by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma
Here are the latest updates from around the Houston area and the world (all times are Central/Houston time):
MARCH 14 8:08 p.m. — Matagorda County confirmed its first presumptive positive case of COVID-19.
Officials said the patient is a 60-year-old woman who did not travel internationally and was admitted to the Matagorda Regional Medical Center due to complications with pneumonia.
MARCH 14 7:36 p.m. — Walmart announced Saturday it is adjusting its operating hours beginning Sunday, March 15.
Walmart stores and Neighborhood Markets will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. until further notice. Stores currently operating under more reduced hours will keep their current hours of operation. Read more here.
MARCH 14 6:30 p.m. — President Donald Trump has tested negative for the coronavirus. The White House says anyone close to the president or vice president will get a temperature check.
MARCH 14 6:12 p.m. — The Houston Health Department has confirmed the city's fifth presumptive positive case of coronavirus.
Officials said the case is a man, age 50 to 60, with a history of international travel. They said he is hospitalized but in good condition.
MARCH 14 6:10 p.m. — After distributing free meals to hundreds of families at Chavez High School Saturday morning, HISD added 31 campuses to its list of locations where families can pick up free meals next week. Read more here.
MARCH 14 6 p.m. — Montgomery County Public Health District confirmed the county's fourth presumptive positive test of COVID-19.
Officials said the woman, who is in her 40s, is a resident of northwest Montgomery County. They said her case is connected to Montgomery County’s third case, a man in his 40s who was in isolation at home but is now in good condition at a hospital.
The woman is currently in isolation at her home and does not require hospitalization at this time.
MARCH 14 5:15 p.m. — The XFL says a Seattle Dragons player has tested positive for the coronavirus.
A statement from the pro football league confirmed that the player tested positive for COVID-19 but did not identify him. It says he was not showing symptoms when he played in a game last week in Houston. Read more here.
MARCH 14 4:00 p.m. — French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced France is shutting down all restaurants, cafes, cinemas and non-essential retail shops, starting Sunday, to combat the accelerated spread of the virus in the country.
He said grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and other public services including transport will be allowed to remain open.
French authorities had already shut down all schools, banned gatherings of more than 100 people and advised people to limit their social life. Philippe said these measures were “not well implemented.” Read more here.
MARCH 14, 2 PM -- Texas lawmakers posted letters they've written to Gov. Abbott and the Texas Education Agency, pleading with them to cancel the STAAR test for the spring semester.
MARCH 14 1:13 PM — The Brazoria County Health Department is reporting two confirmed 'presumptive positive' cases of novel coronavirus in the Alvin area.
These individuals live in the same home. They haven't traveled outside the Houston area but did go to some Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo events, according to local officials. Read more here.
MARCH 14 12:49 p.m. — Alex Bregman donated 1,000 quarantine food kits to the Houston Food Bank.
"His gift ensures students who depend on free lunches to get 28 meals per kit.," the food bank posted on Twitter.
MARCH 14 11:37 a.m. — President Trump said he took a coronavirus test during a media briefing. He said he expects the results to come back in a day or two.
MARCH 14 11:36 a.m. — President Trump broadened the U.S. travel ban to United Kingdom and Ireland starting Monday.
MARCH 14 11:10 a.m. — To combat empty shelves at grocery stores, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is waiving some trucking regulations to help expedite delivery of resources around Texas. Read more here.
MARCH 14 10:06 a.m. — Spain is set to follow Italy on Saturday in declaring a far-reaching nationwide lockdown to slow the accelerating spread of the coronavirus epidemic.
Spain's decision Saturday came as European countries took ever more severe, though widely varying, measures to reduce contact between their citizens and slow the pandemic.
MARCH 14 10:00 a.m. — Jack Ma, founder of the Chinese tech giant Alibaba, says his foundation will donate 500,000 COVID-19 testing kits and 1 million masks to the U.S. The Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation have already donated items to Japan, South Korea, Italy Iran and Spain. Read More here.
MARCH 14 8:07 a.m. — Apple is closing all of its stores worldwide, except for those in Greater China, in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The closures will last through March 27 so the stores can be deep cleaned and disinfected. Read more here.
MARCH 14 7:40 a.m. — A Houston-based genetic engineering company called Greffex says it’s ready to start animal testing of its COVID19 vaccine candidate. Read more here.
MARCH 14 7:30 a.m. — The Office of the Surgeon General has asked hospitals and health care systems to please consider stopping elective procedures during the coronavirus outbreak.
MARCH 14 7:00 a.m. — The House passed an aid bill to provide direct relief to Americans suffering physically, financially and emotionally from the coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.
MARCH 13 8:42 p.m. — A Patton Village police officer who tested presumptive positive for coronavirus is in critical condition, according to officials.
The man, who is in his 40s, is still currently hospitalized. He was confirmed at the first presumptive positive COVID-19 case in Montgomery County.
MARCH 13 5:30 p.m. — Mayor Sylvester Turner gave an update on the city's coronavirus response, saying expanded testing is expected to begin in Houston next week. Health department officials said their lab has capacity to test an estimated 600 people, a two-fold increase in capacity since local testing on March 4. Read more here.
MARCH 13 5:28 p.m. — Houston Zoo will be temporarily closed starting March 13 at 7 p.m. and will not reopen until April 3. Click here for more details.
MARCH 13 4:33 p.m. — The Houston Health Department announced a new presumptive positive case of coronavirus in Houston, bringing the city’s case total to four.
The case is a woman, age 70 to 80, who is experiencing mild symptoms and is quarantined at home. Health officials said she recently traveled to Egypt.
MARCH 13 4:09 p.m. — Three additional presumptive positive cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Fort Bend County. Health & Human Services says there are now 9 total cases of COVID-19 in Fort Bend County.
Officials said the three cases are:
- A man in his 40s with a history of international travel and exposure to confirmed COVID-19 cases abroad. They said experienced moderate flu-like symptoms which have resolved and is in isolation at home.
- A woman in her 50s with a history of international travel who experienced mild symptoms which have resolved. They said she is in isolation home.
- A man in his 70s with history of international travel. They said he was hospitalized and discharged in good condition and is recovering in isolation at home. Read more here.
MARCH 13 2:57 p.m. — All visitations at the Brazoria County Sheriff's Office Jail are suspended until further notice.
MARCH 13 2:30 p.m. — President Trump declares the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency.
Trump said it would free up to $50 billion for state and local governments to respond to the outbreak.
Trump also said he was giving Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services, emergency authority to waive federal regulations and laws to give doctors and hospitals “flexibility” in treating patients. Read more here.
MARCH 13 12:55 p.m. — To prevent the potential spread, the visitation to Harris County Jail will be suspended until further notice. The measures are being put into effect to protect our staff and inmates. The suspension will be effective, Saturday, March 14, 2020. Attorney-client interviews and other essential visits will not be affected. In order to assure family and friends are being able to communicate with their love ones, a free calling program will be implemented for our facilities. Read more here.
MARCH 13 12:15 p.m — Texas Gov. Abbott has declared a statewide public health disaster for all Texas counties in response to COVID-19. This declaration will authorize the use of all resources needed to respond to COVID-19. The Department of State and Public Health is leading this response, the governor added. In addition, the governor said the state is waiving costs for people who need to be tested for COVID-19. According to Abbott, if an uninsured person needs testing for coronavirus, there are two options: public and private health testing. Read more here. Watch his press conference here.
MARCH 13 12:10 p.m. — RCS Carnival Group, which is one of the main food vendors for the Houston Livestock and Rodeo Show, is donating produce, bread, meats and other unused food to the Houston Food Bank. Read more here.
MARCH 13 11:34 a.m. — "Galveston County Health District today confirmed its first presumptive positive case of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in a Galveston County resident." The woman is not in Galveston, however. She's being treated in Austin and is linked to the Montgomery County case. Read more here | View list of Houston-area cases
MARCH 13 11:19 a.m. — Reminder: The Houston Food Bank needs your help packing coronavirus quarantine meal kits. Read more here.
MARCH 13 11:06 a.m. — Spain's prime minister has announced a two-week state of emergency from Saturday in a bid to contain the new coronavirus outbreak, the Associated Press reports. The measure gives the government extraordinary powers, including the possibility to mobilize the armed forces, to confront the COVID-19 outbreak.
MARCH 13 11:02 a.m. — President Trump has scheduled a 2 p.m. press conference (Houston time) to address the coronavirus. There are multiple reports, including from Bloomberg News, that the president will declare a national emergency to speed up the virus response. Check back for updates and read more here.
MARCH 13 10:48 a.m. — NASCAR has postponed all racing events for the next two weeks, including races at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Read more here.
MARCH 13 10:43 a.m. — San Antonio's Fiesta event has been postponed until November 5-15, 2020. The festival boasts the second-largest parade in the country had been slated to start April 16, but as the number of coronavirus cases continued to increase nationwide, so did the citywide anxiety about hosting such an enormous celebration. Read more here.
MARCH 13 9:53 a.m. — A statement in from H-E-B this morning after yesterday's run on grocery stores across the country. They are telling customers they should not panic and should not stockpile or overbuy - "we have the ability to restock shelves and encourage our customers to remain calm." Read more here.
MARCH 13 9:27 a.m. — A good update out of Houston overnight: COVID-19 tests came back negative for Memorial Herman employees. Read more here.
MARCH 13 9 a.m. — The Masters golf tournament has been postponed. Statement from Chairman Ridley: "Considering the latest information and expert analysis, we have decided at this time to postpone @TheMasters , @anwagolf and @DriveChipPutt National Finals." Read more here.
MARCH 13 8:49 a.m. — Sen. Cruz of Texas announces decision to extend his self-quarantine until March 17th. "I still have no symptoms and feel fine, and I was looking forward to taking my family out to dinner tonight. Unfortunately, last night I was informed I had a second interaction with an individual who yesterday tested positive for COVID-19," the senator stated in a press release this morning. He also spoke with CBS This Morning by phone.
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.
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.
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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