HOUSTON — We are continuing to track the latest headlines and updates regarding the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Two more Houstonians with other health issues have died. A Houston police officer is now on a ventilator and needs our prayers, Police Chief Art Acevedo said. A Harris County jailer has tested positive. And the 2020 Offshore Technology Conference, a huge moneymaker for Houston, has now been canceled.
Get today's latest updates below.
Today's top headlines
Here are the latest updates from around the Houston area and the world (all times are Central/Houston time):
APRIL 2 8:07 p.m. An employee at the Giddings State School has tested positive for COVID-19, according to Texas Juvenile Justice Department officials.
Officials said the employee, whose job does not involve interaction with youth, is the first person to test positive at TJJD’s facilities.
The employee reportedly left work early on Monday when he started feeling ill and had limited interactions with other staff that day, officials said. Those who had direct contact with the employee are self-isolating. They said no other employee or youth has reported having symptoms, and staff will be issued masks while on campus.
The employee is self-isolating at home.
APRIL 2 7:47 p.m. Baylor College of Medicine is enrolling participants in a treatment trial for adult patients with a COVID-19 diagnosis who are hospitalized at either Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center or Harris Health System’s Ben Taub Hospital. Read more here.
APRIL 2 7:03 p.m. Two people died in Harris County from COVID-19 related complications.
Four people in the county have now died from the virus. All live outside the city of Houston's boundary.
A woman between the ages of 80 and 90 and a man between the ages of 50 and 60 who both lived in the southwest part of the county died Thursday. They were both COVID-19 positive and had underlying health problems, according to county officials. Both cases are considered to have been contracted through community spread.
APRIL 2 6:47 p.m. Two more Harris County Jail inmates tested positive for COVID-19.
There are now three inmates who have tested positive.
Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said 30 more are awaiting test results and 800 are in quarantine as a precaution.
APRIL 2 5:20 p.m. A mandatory shelter-in-place order was issued in Matagorda County on Thursday.
The mandatory order comes from county officials three days after a voluntary order was issued.
The mandatory order went into effect April 2 at 2:15 p.m. and will "remain in effect for the duration of this declared disaster due to COVID-19."
A curfew is also in effect from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. for residents who are 17 and younger. It will also "remain in effect for the duration of this declared disaster due to COVID-19."
A violation of the order is punishable by a $200 fine. Read the full order here.
APRIL 2 5:16 p.m. Galveston County Health District officials confirm 12 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the county’s case total to 130. They said 5 people have recovered.
APRIL 2 5:13 p.m. Brazoria County has confirmed 14 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the county's total to 123.
APRIL 2 5:03 p.m. Chambers County has confirmed two new cases of COVID-19, bringing the county's total to 11.
APRIL 2 5:00 p.m. Fort Bend County is reporting 27 new cases of COVID-19 and 1 recovery. The county has 221 cases and 10 recoveries.
APRIL 2 4:15 p.m. Wall Street rallied Thursday for its first gain in three days after a sudden surge in oil prices revived beaten-down energy stocks. But, as has so often been the case in this year's market sell-off, it took a few U-turns to get there.
The price of crude spurted as much as 30% higher after President Donald Trump said he expects Russia and Saudi Arabia to back away from their price war, which erupted last month and helped drag U.S. oil to its lowest price in 18 years.
The surge lifted energy stocks enough to pull the S&P 500 higher and outshine another dismal report showing that millions of Americans are joining the unemployment queue by the week.
APRIL 2 3:50 p.m. A Harris County Sheriff’s Office detention officer has COVID-19, bringing the agency’s total number of confirmed cases to 13.
The detention officer is a male in his mid-20s, assigned to work in the 1200 Baker Street jail facility. He is the first detention officer to test positive for the virus, and the third overall employee assigned to work in the 1200 Baker Street jail.
There are currently 179 Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputies, detention officers and support staff on quarantine for possible COVID-19 exposure, including one who is in the hospital.
APRIL 2 3:10 p.m. A Houston police officer diagnosed with COVID-19 is now on a ventilator, according to Police Chief Art Acevedo. He asked for prayers for the officer. "Seventeen employees, all front-line members of the department," have tested positive, Acevedo said.
The Houston Fire Department has also been hard hit by the coronavirus. Twelve HFD employees have tested positive, according to Chief Sam Pena. Two of those have recovered. Another 173 HFD employees are in quarantine.
"Stay home before this hits home," Pena said. Read more here.
APRIL 2 3:05 p.m. The City of Houston is reporting two more deaths from coronavirus. The patients were a woman in her 60s and a man in his 70s.
A total of six people, all older adults with underlying health conditions, have died in Houston.
The Houston Health Department reported 48 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, bringing the total to 506.
APRIL 2 3:00 p.m. Another resident at The Conservatory at Alden Bridge has died, Montgomery County Public Health officials announced Thursday afternoon.
The person who died was a man in his 80s. No other information was released about his health prior to his death.
Alden Bridge is an apartment complex in The Woodlands for people who are 55 an older.
APRIL 2 2:55 p.m. Worldwide, the total number of COVID-19 cases was 1,002,159 on Thursday. There have been 51,335 deaths worldwide and 208,630 recoveries.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. was 234,462 as of 2:30 p.m. Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. death toll was more than 5,100, passing the 5,000 mark less than 24 hours after reaching 4,000. Almost 1,400 of those are in New York City. Nearly 8,600 people in the U.S. have recovered. Track Houston area cases
APRIL 2 2:35 p.m. It's official: Houston's massive Offshore Technology Conference has been canceled for 2020.
The OTC drew 59,200 attendees in 2019 and is one of Houston's biggest conventions and a huge moneymaker.
The cancellation is another huge hit for Houston's hospitality industry, including hotels and restaurants. Read more
APRIL 2 2:05 p.m. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease official, said Thursday he feels safe despite reports he's received online threats and has had uncomfortable personal encounters with admirers that prompted the Trump administration to assign him a security detail.
Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force who appears almost daily on televised briefings and news shows, says there are things about his job that are "sometimes disturbing." Read more.
APRIL 2 1:35 p.m. With only essential businesses open, a lot more people are working from home and many of them are also home schooling their kids since schools are closed.
So how do you make the most out of working from home, while also playing the role of teacher and parent? Here are some good tips.
APRIL 2 12:50 p.m. Space Center Houston is closed to the public until further notice.
"In response to the latest city, state and federal guidelines, we have decided to extend Space Center Houston’s closure to the general public until further notice," they wrote in a statement. "The health and safety of our guests, employees, volunteers and local community is our utmost priority."
APRIL 2 12:40 p.m. With the coronavirus pandemic causing unprecedented challenges to the blood supply, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it would be relaxing some rules that restrict blood donations from gay and bisexual men, anyone who got a recent tattoo or piercing and anyone who has traveled to malaria-endemic areas. More details
APRIL 2 12:22 p.m. — A fourth person has died from COVID-19 in Brazos County, the patient was a female in her 90’s who was hospitalized, according to the Brazos County Health District.
There are six more positive cases of coronavirus in Brazos County, bringing the total in the county to 68. Seven people remain hospitalized at this time. More here.
APRIL 2 11:32 a.m. — Harris County has suspended jury service through Friday, May 8. Jurors who have received a summons for dates through May 8 do not need appear and do not need to reschedule.
APRIL 2 11:20 a.m. — Breaking political news related to the pandemic: The Democratic National Convention has officially been pushed back to August, a one-month delay. The postponement comes just one day after Democratic front-runner Joe Biden said he thought his party's nominating convention would have to be pushed back from July into August because of the coronavirus threat. Read more here.
APRIL 2 11:15 a.m. — Joe Exotic in COVID-19 isolation in federal prison in Fort Worth, husband says: Dillon Passage said he believes his husband is in isolation as a precaution because there were coronavirus cases in the Oklahoma jail where he'd been held. Read more here.
APRIL 2 10:55 a.m. — Johns Hopkins University reports there are now nearly 50,000 deaths related to COVID-19 worldwide. There are currently 965,246 cases reported around the world with 217,263 in the United States. 8,700 people have recovered from the virus in the U.S. Map: Local COVID-19 cases
APRIL 2 10:30 a.m. — U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and other area leaders are holding a news conference today on the opening of a new, free testing site in Houston. Like other United Memorial Medical Center in our area sites, you must be pre-screened and get a code before you can use the drive-through testing site. Watch the press conference here | See how you can get tested for COVID-19
APRIL 2 10:25 a.m. — From Oprah Winfrey this morning: "I am donating $10 million overall to help Americans during this pandemic in cities across the country and in areas where I grew up." More info here.
APRIL 2 10 a.m. — FBI task force finds large supply of PPE: The Justice Department says it is distributing about 192,000 N-95 masks to frontline medical workers in New York and New Jersey that were found during an investigation by the new coronavirus hoarding and price gouging task force. Officials say the masks, gloves, gowns, hand sanitizer and other personal protective equipment were found by the FBI on March 30. The Justice Department says it notified the Department of Health and Human Services, which compelled the supplies be turned over as part of the Defense Production Act. Get more national/world updates here.
APRIL 2 9:55 a.m. — ICYMI: In a reversal, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service announced that those who receive Social Security benefits and are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file a "simple tax return" to receive an economic impact payment. Instead, payments will be automatically deposited into their bank accounts. Read more here.
APRIL 2 8:55 a.m. — Major global stock markets and U.S. futures rose Thursday following a rocky start to the day after a White House warning that as many as 240,000 Americans might die of the coronavirus sent Wall Street tumbling. Read more here.
APRIL 2 7:30 a.m. — U.S. unemployment claims hit 6.6 million -- another record high -- as layoffs accelerate in face of coronavirus. | (AP) - More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, far exceeding a record high set just last week, a sign that layoffs are accelerating in the midst of the coronavirus. The figure for last week is much higher than the previous record of 3.3 million reported for the previous week. The surging layoffs have led many economists to envision as many as 20 million lost jobs by the end of April. The unemployment rate could spike to as high as 15% this month, above the previous record of 10.8% set during a deep recession in 1982. Get more national/world updates here. | You can read the Labor Department's PDF report here.
APRIL 2 7:25 a.m. — Patriots plane brings 1.2M N95 masks from China to US: The New England Patriots plane is flying much-needed medical supplies in the coronavirus crisis to Boston Thursday. Tap here to read more.
APRIL 2 6:34 a.m. — The Louisiana pastor facing six misdemeanor citations for continuing to hold church services despite a "stay home" order has hired Judge Roy Moore to defend him, according to reports. Read more here.
APRIL 2 5:05 a.m. — There are now nearly a million COVID-19 cases worldwide with about 217,000 in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University. Worldwide, more than 195,000 patients have recovered, a bulk of those in China.
APRIL 2 4:32 a.m. — The U.S. death toll passed 5,000 late Wednesday night, fewer than 24 hours after passing the 4,000 mark. Total worldwide cases were likely to reach 1 million Thursday. Get more national/world updates here.
APRIL 2 2:33 a.m. — Vermont orders Walmart, Target to stop selling non-essential items in the store: The order applies to "big box" stores in the state as a way to increase social distancing between customers during the coronavirus crisis. Read more here.
APRIL 2 1:40 a.m. — World news: Australia’s government will offer parents free child care from next week in a bid to keep 13,000 child care centers open during the coronavirus pandemic and to prevent workers staying home to look after children. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday one million families would benefit from the subsidies expected to cost 1.6 billion Australian dollars ($973 million) over three months. Get more national/world updates here.
APRIL 2 12 a.m. — Report: British Open golf tournament may be canceled.... One day after Wimbledon announced it was canceling the famed tennis tournament for the first time since World War II, the British Open golf tournament may make the same move. Golf Digest, citing multiple sources, reports the R&A is expected to cancel the tournament as early as Thursday. The sources say the R&A was awaiting the decision on Wimbledon first. The tournament, formally known as The Open Championship, is set to begin July 16 at Royal St. George's Golf Club. Get more national/world updates here.
APRIL 1 11 p.m. — Treasury and IRS announce those who receive Social Security benefits and are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file a "simple tax return" to receive an stimulus payment. Read more here.
APRIL 1 10:15 p.m. — Utility companies are bracing for higher residential demand which means higher bills for homeowners. It comes at a tough time for many as people deal with layoffs due to COVID-19. That’s why the Texas Public Utility Commission voted to pass the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program. Read more here.
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 7:50 p.m. — Houston could be the next hot spot, one expert says: Dr. Peter Hotez is concerned Houston could be the next COVID-19 hotspot. "There's every reason the virus could pick Houston as its next target," Hotez said. Hotez said what he's seeing in New York City and other major U.S. cities, but especially in New Orleans, could predict problems for Houston.
"We're certainly are very similar demographically," Hotez said. "I'm very concerned about the health of people in some of the poor neighborhoods in our city where diabetes, hypertension rates are high and people are also living in more crowded conditions. Those are the reasons why I've been sounding the alarm that Houston is at risk." Read/watch the full story here.
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.
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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