HOUSTON — We are continuing to track the latest headlines and updates regarding the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Scroll down for today's top headlines and the latest updates in our live blog.
Here are the latest updates from around the Houston area and the world (all times are Central/Houston time):
MARCH 17 9:46 p.m. — A Matagorda County woman between the ages of 50-55 has tested positive for the coronavirus, county officials announced tonight. It's the third reported case in the county. The woman had recently traveled to Washington state, an area where the COVID-19 outbreak has infected over 1,000 people. Officials said once she had symptoms, she "immediately went home to self-quarantine" and remained there since Friday. She's cooperating with state health officials.
On Sunday, a man in his 90s from Matagorda County became the first person in Texas to die from the virus.
MARCH 17 8:46 p.m. — Officials in North Texas are reporting the first COVID-19 related death in Tarrant County. Officials with Tarrant County Public Health said the "senior adult" was living at the Texas Masonic Retirement Home in Arlington. Officials didn't say whether it was a man or a woman, only offering that they're working to determine how the person contracted the virus and are working to find out who they came in contact with.
"On behalf of Tarrant County Public Health, I want to express our deepest sympathy to the family of this person," TCPH Director Vinny Taneja said.
MARCH 17 8:10 p.m. — Girl Scouts suspend all large in-person events.
MARCH 17 7:15 p.m. — Health officials confirmed a fifth Montgomery County resident tested positive for COVID-19. The man is in his 50s and is a resident of south Montgomery County. Officials said he recently traveled to California. He is currently in isolation at his home.
MARCH 17 6:40 p.m. — Moody Gardens is temporarily closing its attractions until March 28.
MARCH 17 6:20 p.m. — Cardinal DiNardo, the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, announces public Masses are canceled indefinitely. Churches will remain open for individual and private prayer.
MARCH 17 5:45 p.m. — In a news conference Tuesday, Fort Bend County health officials said the 10th person in the county tested positive for COVID-19.
In the most recent case, a woman younger than 30 with a history of international travel, experienced mild symptoms and is in isolation.
MARCH 17 4:39 p.m. — Starting tomorrow, Target will now be closing at 9 p.m. each day. And every Wednesday morning the retailer will dedicate it's first hour to vulnerable guests. Read more here.
MARCH 17 4:23 p.m. — the City of Jersey Village declares local disaster to reduce the possibility of exposure to coronavirus.
MARCH 17 4:16 p.m. — The 2020 Houston Art Car Parade has been canceled. This will include all events associated with Houston Art Car Parade Weekend scheduled to take place April 16-19, including the Main Street Drag, the Sneak Peek at Saint Arnold Brewing Company, The Legendary Art Car Ball, The VIPit Experience, and the Houston Art Car Parade Awards Ceremony. Read more here.
MARCH 17 3:52 p.m. — Fort Bend County orders all bars, nightclubs, taverns, lounges, arcades and private clubs to close at midnight Tuesday. Limits restaurants to take-out, delivery or drive-thru services only.
MARCH 17 3:58 p.m. — Public tours at the Texas Capitol have been suspended. Additionally, all sponsored public events and guided school field trips are canceled.
MARCH 17 3:34 p.m. — The City of Galveston has ordered all public amusement venues, including bars, to close. The mayor has also limited restaurants to take-out, delivery and drive-thru services only starting Wednesday morning.
The closing of amusement parks and bars will take place starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
MARCH 17 1:50 p.m. — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that even though a shelter in place order has not been issued, New Yorkers should prepare for the possibility of such a directive.
MARCH 17 1:35 p.m. — U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper says the Pentagon will provide 5 million respirators and 2,000 specialized ventilators to federal heath authorities to help in the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
MARCH 17 1:20 p.m. — Macy’s announced it's temporarily closing all stores staring Wednesday, March 17 through March 31. This includes all Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Bluemercury, Macy’s Backstage, Bloomingdales the Outlet and Market by Macy’s stores.
MARCH 17 1:00 p.m. — Galveston County will be issuing a disaster declaration Tuesday afternoon for the purpose of issuing a price control order, said County Judge Mark Henry. A price control order is a directive that prevents or at least allows criminal prosecution of price gouging.
MARCH 17 12:40 p.m. — Gov. Greg Abbott said as of today, Texas is up to 64 confirmed cases of coronavirus across 19 counties. He also mentioned the state's first coronavirus-related death, involving a man in his 90s in Matagorda County. “As of this moment,” Abbott said, 1,264 Texans have been tested. “That number will continue to increase dramatically,” he added.
MARCH 17 12:15 p.m. — Gov. Greg Abbott activated the Texas National Guard to be prepared to assist with response efforts for COVID-19. This preparative measure will ensure that the Texas National Guard can assist in various forms throughout the state when needed. Healthcare workers and first responders who are members of the Texas National Guard are excluded from this activation so that they can continue serving the people of Texas in their respective fields.
MARCH 17 12:13 p.m. — Austin Mayor Steve Adler announced on Tuesday that all Austin bars and restaurant dining rooms must close in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Adler also announced the City of Austin is limiting gatherings to 10 people. Read more here.
MARCH 17 12:07 p.m. — A nonprofit organization called Second Servings is working overtime as the greater Houston area navigates through the COVID-19 pandemic.Second Servings picks up unserved and unsold food from distributors, convention centers, sports venues, retailers and hotels and delivers the food to more than 90 local shelters, soup kitchens, low-income housing and many other charities. Read more here.
MARCH 17 12:06 p.m. — Local animal shelters are bracing themselves as they see increased intake, fewer adoptions and fewer foster homes, according to Best Friends Animal Society. BARC, City of Baytown Animal Services & Adoption Center, Fort Bend Animal Services Center, Harris County Animal Shelter and Montgomery Animal Shelters need people to foster pets on a temporary, emergency basis. Read more here.
MARCH 17 11:55 a.m. — Harris County reports three new cases of COVID-19. All three new cases are residents age 40 to 50. Two live in northwest Harris County and the other in southeast Harris County. Read more here.
MARCH 17 11:40 a.m. — Galveston County Health District confirmed its second presumptive positive case of coronavirus in a Galveston County resident. The individual is a male ranging in age 45 to 50. County health officials said he presented to a UTMB clinic with symptoms including fever, dry cough, sore throat, headache and body ache. Test results from UTMB show he is positive for COVID-19. Read more here.
MARCH 17 11:15 a.m. — The White House task force gave an update on its COVID-19 response at a press conference this morning. Among the topics discussed by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were a proposed multi-billion dollar stimulus package that includes the possibility of some Americans (i.e. "not millionaires") receiving checks from the federal government. They declined to disclose how much those checks could be worth, but Trump said the checks could go out in just two weeks. "Americans need cash now and the president wants to get cash now, and I mean now in the next two weeks," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. The stimulus package is reported to be an $850 billion deal, according to the AP. Read more here and watch the press conference below:
MARCH 17 10:10 a.m. — "Houston City Council votes to extend the city’s emergency health declaration related to COVID-19 indefinitely. It means the city can get federal help plus more flexibility to obtain/manage resources." - KHOU 11's Adam Bennett reports. Read more here.
MARCH 17 9:59 a.m. — Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough extended a disaster declaration for the county as well as announced new guidelines for food and drink establishments and movie theaters to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The county is ordering all restaurants to reduce occupancy of the entire premise to 50 people or less at any one time in total. Tables shall be spaced a minimum of 10 feet apart. Read more here.
MARCH 17 9:58 a.m. — How to file for unemployment in Texas if your job is affected by coronavirus ... If the COVID-19 outbreak has changed your employment situation, here's how you can file to receive benefits in the meantime. Read more.
MARCH 17 9:09 a.m. — The Brazos County Health District, northwest of Houston, confirms its first case: "The Brazos County Health District (BCHD) has confirmed a positive case of COVID-19 in Brazos County. The positive case is a female in her 20’s that is not associated with Texas A&M University or Blinn College." Read more here.
MARCH 17 9 a.m. — The White House is proposing a roughly $850 billion emergency stimulus to address the economic cost of the new coronavirus, sources told the Associated Press. The request will be outlined to Senate Republicans Tuesday and will aim to provide relief for small businesses and the airline industry and include a massive tax cut for wage-earners. Read more national/world updates here.
MARCH 17 8:24 a.m. — Update on the death in Matagorda County: "We are deeply saddened today to learn that a fellow Texan has died from COVID-19,” Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday morning. “The First Lady and I send our deepest condolences and prayers to the family and loved ones during their time of mourning." Read more here.
MARCH 17 7:20 a.m. — World news: Iran's state television has issued its most drastic warning so far about the new coronavirus, saying the outbreak could kill “millions” in the Islamic Republic if the public there keeps traveling and ignoring health guidance, the AP reports.
MARCH 17 7:15 a.m. — Info for HS students: The groups that give both the ACT and SAT exams announced they are putting off their next nationwide examinations. The SAT exam scheduled for May 2 has been canceled, and makeups for the March 14 exam, scheduled for March 28, have also been canceled. Read more here.
MARCH 17 6:31 a.m. — Gym closures: COVID-19/coronavirus recommendations set by the White House on Monday have prompted more businesses to close in the interest of public health, and that includes gyms. 24 Hour Fitness and Lifetime Fitness are among those closed indefinitely. Check the list here.
MARCH 17 6:15 a.m. — Shares on the three major Wall Street indices were fluctuating Tuesday morning after spending hours up more than 3%. It follows the worst one-day point loss in Dow Jones history -- the third time in a week that such a record was set. As of 6:20 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq were all mixed, showing modest gains or losses. Read more here.
MARCH 17 5:22 a.m. — All METRO bus and rail routes are in service. More buses will be put in service on heavily traveled local routes in order to lessen crowding. Approximately 50 percent fewer seats will be available on buses. There will also be fewer available seats on light rail and METROLift as well. These additional safety measures may result in delays on certain routes. Please plan accordingly, including adjustment of your travel schedule.
MARCH 17 4:58 a.m. — Whataburger announced it's closing all of its dining rooms by 3 p.m. today in response to the coronavirus. Whataburger will continue to offer its full menu through the drive-thru. Customers will also be able to take advantage of curbside delivery for orders made online starting Thursday between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Read more here.
MARCH 17 4:45 a.m. — Universal Pictures said it will make its current and upcoming films available for on-demand rental, becoming the first major studio to turn directly to home viewing in light of the virus. Variety reported that AMC, the largest movie chain in the country, announced it would close for six-to-12 weeks. This comes after Regal Cinemas made a similar announcement earlier in the day. Read more here.
MARCH 17 3:27 a.m. — Shares on the three major Wall Street indices were up significantly in overnight trading following the worst one-day point loss in Dow Jones history -- the third time in a week that such a record was set. Shares have also reversed early losses in major Asian markets. Read more here.
MARCH 17 3:13 a.m. — A Delta Air Lines flight bound for Seattle was grounded at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport Monday night after a passenger reportedly informed a flight attendant they may have been exposed to the coronavirus. Read more here.
MARCH 17 2:27 a.m. — Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, have reportedly been released from an Australian hospital five days after they were diagnosed with the new coronavirus. Read more here.
MARCH 17 2:11 a.m. — Actors Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively are donating $1 million to be split between food banks in the U.S. and Canada to help those in need during the coronavirus pandemic. The couple announced it in separate social media posts, both in their unique style. Read more here.
MARCH 17 12 a.m. — Fort Bend County health officials issued a set of guidelines for the public to follow through April 1, or until otherwise noted. The guidelines went into effect on March 16 at midnight. Read more about the guidelines here.
MARCH 16 10:29 p.m. — The Houston area has its first death related to coronavirus. A Matagorda County COVID-19 patient died Sunday, becoming the first coronavirus-related death in Texas. According to Matagorda County health officials, the man was in his 90s. Read more here.
MARCH 16 6:20 p.m. — H-E-B is donating $3 million to support local organizations working to stop the spread of the coronavirus such as nonprofits working to distributing food, several food banks and medical research groups. The goal is to provide much-needed relief to seniors, children and low-income families. Read more here.
MARCH 16 5:50 p.m. — Houston ISD, Katy ISD, Spring ISD and countless other area school districts announced Monday they will be extending their school closures for several more weeks, with most districts planning to reopen in mid-April. FULL LIST of updated closures available here.
MARCH 16 5:26 p.m. — All restaurants in the Houston and Harris County area will be limited to pickup, delivery or drive-thru services for the next 15 days, , according to Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. In addition, local bars and nightclub in the area must close. These closures and restrictions will start 8 a.m. Tuesday. "I know this is very difficult. It's a difficult time, and that's why we're taking extraordinary measures," Hidalgo said. "History will say that we prioritized human life. History will say that we erred on the side of action. This doesn't work unless we all buy in." The new guidelines also include establishments in unincorporated Harris County. Read more here.
MARCH 16 5:06 p.m. — The City of Dallas has ordered the closure of all bars, lounges, taverns, gyms and theaters. Additionally, the Dallas Independent School District has announced it is closing indefinitely.
MARCH 16 4:43 p.m. — Regal announced Monday it will be closing all its theater locations starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020 as a precaution amid the coronavirus outbreak. Read more here. AMC also later made the same announcement.
MARCH 16 3:30 p.m. — Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing updated guidance to the 17,000 regulated child care operations throughout Texas, including new screening requirements for staff and visitors, as it continues to monitor updates concerned with coronavirus, or COVID-19.
The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
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.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Stay up to date on coronavirus
How coronavirus is spread
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, hot 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.