LOCAL UPDATES: Harris County judge closes all parks for Easter weekend
HOUSTON – Here is the current number of officially reported coronavirus cases:
As the coronavirus cases in the Houston area continue to grow, follow the latest developments as they unfold:
Wednesday, April 8
1:43 p.m. -- All Harris County parks to close for Easter weekend
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced Wednesday that all Harris County parks would be closed for Easter weekend.
According to a news release, the judge is expected to sign an order that will close all county public parks from April 10 through April 13. Read more.
12:40 p.m. -- Galveston County Health District opening new COVID-19 testing site
The Galveston County Health District announced a new drive-thru testing site expected to open Thursday.
The testing suite will be located at 9850 Emmett F. Lowry Expressway in Texas City and will be open Thursday, Saturday and Monday.
According to the GCHD, the site has the capacity to test 176 per day and only people who have been prescreened and have an appointment will be tested. Read more.
9:26 a.m. -- 100 new COVID-19 cases reported in Fort Bend County; 7th person dies, officials say
Fort Bend County reported 100 new COVID-19 cases due to delays in reporting to local government. Officials said over half of the tests for these new cases were performed over a week ago, most more than two weeks ago.
Officials said a seventh person who was in the high-risk group for severe disease died from the virus.
Tuesday, April 7
6:30 p.m. -- 34 residents of La Porte assisted living facility test positive for coronavirus
The number of positive coronavirus cases at the La Porte Healthcare Center ballooned to 34, Harris County health officials announced.
“The facility is currently under strict health control orders that were issued to ensure appropriate infection control and prevention measures are taken,” officials wrote.
5 p.m. — 4 new deaths reported in Galveston County
Galveston County officials announced four new coronavirus-related deaths Tuesday bringing the county total to five. It is unclear if these patients are connected to the Resort at Texas City, an assisted living facility where there are 83 positive cases of coronavirus.
4:03 p.m. -- 20 staff and deputies employed at Harris County Jail positive for coronavirus
As a battle over whether or not to release some non-violent offenders from Harris County Jail continues, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez announced that 16 detention officers and staff members of the jail had tested positive for the virus since April 1, bringing the jail staff total to 20.
2:45 p.m. -- HISD says food distribution volunteer tested positive for coronavirus
A person who volunteered at the Houston Independent School District food distribution site at McReynolds Middle School on March 24, has tested positive for coronavirus, district officials announced.
“The individual began showing symptoms days after working at the site and is currently recovering at home,” district officials wrote. “A small group of volunteers who worked near the individual for an extended period of time have been notified and asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.”
Officials say the public’s exposure to the person with coronavirus was limited and there should be no risk.
8:45 a.m. -- Gov. Abbott closes state parks, historic sites
If you were planning on taking a breather and getting out of the house and escaping to a park, you may have to readjust your plans.
According to a news release, Gov. Greg Abbott directed the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to temporarily close all state parks and historical sites. The move is part of the state’s effort to encourage social distancing and prevent people from gathering in large groups.
8:40 a.m. — Precinct 4 confirms another deputy tests positive for COVID-19
Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Hermann shared an update Tuesday that said another deputy has tested positive for coronavirus.
According to the update, the deputy is in quarantine and is home resting. Hermann is asking the community “please pray for him and his family.”
8 a.m. -- Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston will only livestream Masses during Holy Week, Easter
The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston announced all Masses during Holy Week and for Easter will be livestreamed as gatherings continue to be banned amid the coronavirus crisis.
Cardinal DiNardo states, “While we are saddened by our continued inability to be present to one another in person, the prayer of the Church transcends space and time. Even as we may feel helpless or unable to act…, we are reminded that the Holy Spirit cannot be bound.”
Monday, April 6
3:30 p.m. — 402 new cases in Houston Monday, Mayor Turner says
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said there were 402 new cases being reported in Houston Monday. He said about two-thirds of the positive test results were from a backlog of people who were tested in mid-March but whose results only came back today. This brings the city's total number of cases to 1,145. Harris County has an additional 664 cases and between Houston and Harris County, there are 1,809 cases.
No new coronavirus-related deaths were reported in Houston Monday.
Turner said 68 city employees have tested positive so far — 28 municipal workers, 19 firefighters, 24 police officers.
All Houston first responders will now be required to wear masks on the job. More details in the video below:
2:05 p.m. Gov. Greg Abbott gives update on pandemic in Texas
Abbott was joined by the Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedy, Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd and former state Rep. John Zerwas at the TX Department of Public Safety warehouse in Austin.
Boxes of gloves, gowns, masks and other personal protective equipment were seen behind Abbott, which will be distributed across the state.
Abbott noted that during a phone call with Vice President Mike Pence and Dr. Deborah Birx, he was told that Texas’ mitigate efforts are working.
“She said that we are getting close to beginning to bend the curve, but also she made clear that if we let up now all of our efforts that have led us to this point will have been for nothing,” Abbott said.
He also addressed travel restriction for people coming to Texas, stating that previous restrictions are still in place and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers are pulling over vehicles crossing the border from Louisiana into Texas.
“Beginning yesterday, the Texas Department of Public Safety has now altered that policy to increase enforcement by establishing checkpoints from all border crossings from Louisiana into the state of Texas,” Abbott said.
Abbott said about 30 patients at a Texas City nursing home are being tested with hydroxychloroquine and are on their second day of treatment.
As of Monday, he said there have been 85,357 Texans who have been tested for COVID-19 and 7,319 have tested positive. He said the number of those testing positive continues to remain less than 10% of everyone tested. Abbott said he expects 100,000 Texans to be tested for coronavirus. He said there are 1,153 confirmed hospitalizations and 140 fatalities.
10:32 a.m. -- Mayor Turner, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo discuss new resource to help essential workers find child care
Mayor Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced a new resource, findchildcarenow.org, which is dedicated to helping essential workers find quality child care as well as financial assistance.
Collaborative for children, Workforce Solutions, City of Houston and Harris County joined forces with other community partners to provide much-needed child care support during the COVID-19 pandemic. With lead support provided by Houston Endowment, findchildcarenow.org was created to ease the burden for Houston’s essential workers who are required to work, but have struggled to find child care during this difficult time.
The website will connect essential workers with child care centers that have immediate openings and serve as a gateway where parents can apply for child care financial assistance through Workforce Solutions. Read more here.
Sunday, April 5
6:45 p.m. — Rice offers temporary housing for medical personnel
Rice University will provide temporary housing for medical personnel, who work in Texas Medical Center hospitals. This move will allow hospital staff to live nearby and give them a greater opportunity for rest and work needed hours.
The university designated two residential colleges, Wiess and Hanszen, located close to Main Street near the TMC. This move will require about 50 students and residents to relocate to other residential areas.
4:30 p.m. — HCSO confirms 2 more employees tested positive coronavirus
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office reported two new employees, a Courts Division deputy and a detention sergeant, tested positive COVID-19, bringing the agency’s total to 18. Both employees are assigned to work within inmates in the Harris County Jail.
The detention sergeant is a female in her 40s, assigned to work in the 1200 Baker Street jail facility, where seven employees have tested positive. The second employee is a female in her early 30s.
At this time, three inmates in the Harris County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19. An additional 33 inmates are in quarantine with symptoms indicative of the virus and are awaiting test results.
3:30 p.m. — Galena Park orders curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily
The city of Galena Park declared a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. It will be unlawful to be on the public streets, sidewalks, or any public places. The only exception is for those going to and from work or for emergency purposes.
Galena Park also announced no more than five people shall be allowed to be in any building open to the public for any purpose other than persons necessary to provide essential services to the public.
All open establishments open to the public shall enforce social distancing rules for each person, meaning that persons must be at least six feet from each other at all times.
Establishments are also directed to provide hand sanitizing and cleaning of carts, baskets and surfaces expected to be touched by the public.
2:00 p.m. — Houston parks will take down volleyball nets amid coronavirus crisis
In a news briefing Sunday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city’s parks would begin taking down volleyball nets Monday to encourage social distancing in amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Turner also added he has redirected more of the city’s employees to monitor parks and ensure visitors are engaging in social distancing.
12:15 p.m. — Brazos County reports 6th coronavirus-related death and 19 more positive cases
Officials with the Brazos County Health District reported Sunday the county’s sixth coronavirus-related death. The resident was a male in his 80’s who was hospitalized. Officials did not release any more information related to the death.
Officials also confirmed 19 more positive cases of COVID-19 in the county, bringing the county’s total to 94.
12:00 p.m. — Houston City officials name Thursday a Day of Prayer amid COVID-19 crisis
Houston City officials named Thursday, April 9 a Day of Pray.
Mayor Sylvester Turner asked Houstonians, wherever they may be, to collectively stop and observe a moment of silence or say a prayer at noon on Thursday.
“Wherever you are at noon, say a prayer for our city, and our country, say a prayer for your family or just pause for a moment of silent meditation,” Turner said in a news briefing Sunday.
10:30 a.m. — Mayor Sylvester Turner provides update on city’s coronavirus response
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner will tour several local churches and hold a news briefing with a local faith leader Sunday morning. During the briefing, he will provide an update on the city’s coronavirus response.
9 a.m. — State Rep. Gene Wu hosts drive-thru mask giveaway for healthcare workers, seniors, those with chronic health conditions
State Representative Gene Wu, who serves District 137, is hosting a drive-thru mask giveaway Sunday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The drive is focused on getting makss into the hands of healthcare workers, seniors and those suffering from chronic health conditions. The drive being held at . at Sharpstown Park, located at 6855 Harbortown Drive.
Saturday, April 4
10:15 p.m. — Calhoun County confirms 11 new COVID-19 cases
Calhoun County Texas Emergency Management is reporting 11 positive coronavirus cases throughout the county.
Both patients are residents of Calhoun County and are at home self-isolating. One case is related to travel and the other attributed to community spread.
Individuals, who visited the Walmart Supercenter at 400 Tiny Browning Blvd. in Port Lavaca on March 30 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., may have been exposed.
4:50 p.m. — Asiatown donates 10,000 medical masks to frontline workers
The International Management District, which oversees the Asiatown business community, announced the donation of 10,000 medical masks to Houston frontline workers.
The contribution was sparked after Mayor Sylvester Turner requested additional personal protection equipment for city and healthcare professionals. The district allocated funds through its coronavirus task force.
2:45 p.m. — Montgomery County confirms 1 inmate tested positive for coronavirus
Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office announced a female inmate tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday. The woman in her 20s was booked in the Montgomery County Jail in late October.
The inmate, who was pregnant, was transported to a local hospital on Tuesday. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl Wednesday. During the delivery, a medical professional noted an elevated temperature.
As a precaution, the inmate was placed in isolation and tested for coronavirus. The woman is in stable condition at a local hospital.
Doctors are running tests on the child, but at the time of the release, results were not available.
Six jail employees, who had contact with the inmate, were sent home to self-quarantine. None of them were displaying symptoms at the time.
Officials are working to identify additional employees who may have had close contact with the diagnosed inmate. Those employees will be required to take necessary precautions.
Effective immediately, all Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office jail staff and inmates will be required to wear masks.
Officials said they will continue to screen all inmates, employees and visitors to the jail for temperature and symptoms before entering the prison. New arriving inmates are still being quarantined for 14 days before they are placed in general population housing.
2:30 p.m. -- Houston Food Bank seeking volunteers to help amid COVID-19 pandemic
During a news briefing with Mayor Sylvester Turner, officials with the Houston Food Bank called for volunteers to help the organization.
Officials said the organization was following CDC recommendations to keep its volunteers,visitors and staff safe. All volunteers and staff practice safe social distancing and receive temperature checks to ensure they do not have fever. For more information on how to volunteer with the Houston Food Bank, visit https://www.houstonfoodbank.org/.
1:50 p.m. -- Houston reports another coronavirus death, 103 new cases
Houston reported another coronavirus-related death Saturday and 103 new cases of the illness.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the latest person killed by COVID-19 was a man in his 60s who had underlying medical conditions.
Turner said this most recent death brings the city’s fatality total to 9. The regional total is now at 27.
The additional cases of the virus bring the city’s total number of cases to 690. The Houston-area total is now at 2,135.
You can read more about all of the cases here.
12:33 p.m. -- Houston mayor provides coronavirus update
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is scheduled to provide an update on the city’s response to the coronavirus Saturday afternoon.
Turner has scheduled a press conference for 1 p.m. during a tour of the Houston Food Bank.
Click2Houston.com plans to offer a livestream of the event when it begins.
Friday, April 3
6:00 p.m. -- Gov. Greg Abbott says NRG Stadium could serve as a care facility
NRG Stadium could be set to serve as a care facility if needed in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
In a press conference Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott alluded to the possibility when talking about the emergency care facilities popping up around the country, as hospitals are overflowing.
“We have one up in the Dallas/Fort Worth area called FMS, Federal Medical Station, 250 beds in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center," said Abbott. “There’s actually similarly about that same number of beds set up in the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, and then Houston will be setting one up in NRG.”
Abbott did not specify whether he meant NRG Stadium or NRG Arena.
5:30 p.m. -- Galveston County confirms 83 residents and employees at a Texas City senior living facility have tested positive for coronavirus.
Galveston County health officials announced that there are 83 residents and employees of a Texas City senior living facility who have tested positive for coronavirus Friday, which is up from 13 reported Thursday at the same facility.
Health officials tested 146 residents and employees for COVID-19 at The Resort at Texas City after 13 residents and employees previously tested positive for the virus. Some results are still pending, officials said.
3:30 p.m. -- Houston reports 81 new coronavirus and 2 new deaths, bringing the city’s total to 587.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner confirmed 81 new coronavirus cases, bringing the city’s total of 587. The city also announced two new coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the city’s total to 8.
Dr. David Persse, of the Houston Health Department, said a man in his 40s with underlying health conditions died on March 27 and a woman in her 60s with underlying health conditions died on April 1.
Both patients died before their coronavirus testing results were returned, Persse said. Recently, their testing results came back positive for COVID-19, and officials confirmed that the patients died from coronavirus-related complications.
Turner also announced that any city employees that test positive for coronavirus, the city will consider the contraction of the illness, work-related, as concerned with workers compensation benefits.
Thursday, April 2
7:15 p.m. -- Harris County reports two new coronavirus deaths
Harris County announced that two more people have died from coronavirus Thursday. This brings the county total to four and the area total to 22.
“The first death is a woman, between the ages of 80-90 years old, who lived in the southwest quadrant of Harris County,” officials wrote. “Additionally, a man, between the ages of 50-60 years old, who lived in the southwest quadrant of Harris County, died today and tested positive for COVID-19. Both individuals had underlying health issues, no history of travel or no known exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case, therefore, are considered community spread.”
7:05 p.m. -- Two more inmates at Harris County Jail test positive for coronavirus
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez announced two more inmates at the Harris County Jail tested positive bringing the jail total to three. Gonzalez said 30 more inmates were awaiting coronavirus test results and 800 inmates were self quarantined as a precaution.
There are about 8,000 inmates in Harris County Jail. Earlier in the week, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced she signed an order to release about 1,000 inmates facing non-violent charges amid the coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.
3 p.m. -- Mayor Sylvester Turner gives update on city’s efforts in the fight against the coronavirus
Mayor Sylvester Turner was joined by the Houston Health Department and the Office of Emergency Management to discuss the city of Houston’s continued response to the coronavirus.
Turner announced the city of Houston reports 48 confirmed cases, bringing the city’s total to 506. He also said there were two more coronavirus related deaths that were 24 hours apart, bringing to city’s death total to six.
Turner also thanked Camden apartments for its effort in helping its residents who are financially struggling during the pandemic by granting them $2,000 each.
During the press conference, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said 17 members tested positive for the coronavirus and two of his officers were hospitalized, one being put on a ventilator Wednesday night. Acevedo asks for the public to continue praying for the department. He said said a second officer is back at work after recovering from the virus.
Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena said 173 firefighters are quarantined, 49 firefighters have been tested for the coronavirus and 12 tested positive. Pena said two have recovered. He said this quarantine puts a strain on the department because of short staff.
Turner also ask for more help on providing or donating more PPE and masks to testing medical facilities.
12:41 p.m. -- Space Center Houston announces it is closed until further notice
Space Center Houston announced Thursday that due to city, state and federal guidelines, it will remain closed to the general public until further notice.
According to a Space Center representative, the facility is working to enhance virtual learning experiences and will be announcing new experiences the public can be part of.
The Space Center released a statement that said in part, “Our goal is to continue to inspire all generations through the wonders of space exploration and to do our part to keep our community connected during this difficult time.”
For more updates, you can go to Spacecenter.org.
11:07 a.m. -- UMMC opens 3rd drive-thru coronavirus testing site in northeast Houston
U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Houston) announced Thursday the opening of another drive-thru coronavirus testing site in Harris County – the third such site she has opened in the Houston area.
The newest site at Forest Brook Middle School in northeast Houston is in addition to a site at 510 West Tidwell and at the Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land.
The sites are being run by the United Memorial Medical Center.
“We have done this to save lives,” Jackson-Lee said.
She said the choice of Forest Brook Medical School as a site was because census data indicated a high number of senior citizens who live in the area.
The congresswoman said the sites she has worked to open are meant to compliment the city- and county-backed testing sites that have also opened in recent days.
About 3,000 people have been tested since the first UMMC testing site opened, officials said. About 9% of those tests have come back positive, officials said.
People with symptoms are allowed to go to the testing sites, where they will be screened before being tested.
9:47 a.m. -- Officials discuss new drive-thru coronavirus testing site in Harris County
U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston) is holding a news conference Thursday morning to discuss the opening of another drive-thru coronavirus testing site.
The news conference is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.
Click2Houston.com plans to offer a livestream of the event.
Wednesday, April 1
10:00 p.m. -- 14 more HFD firefighter asked to quarantined
8:24 p.m. -- Cypress postal worker tests positive for coronavirus
A postal worker with the Cypress Post Office tested positive for coronavirus, the U.S. Postal Service announced in an email.
“We are in the process of reaching out to the local public health office and will follow the guidance they provide,” USPS wrote. “We believe the risk is low for employees who work at the Cypress Post Office, but we will keep our employees apprised as new information and guidance becomes available.”
9:30 p.m. -- Fort Bend County extends stay home order
After seeking feedback from Fort Bend County residents, Judge K.P. George announced Wednesday night that he is extending the county's stay home order through the end of April.
This announcement came a day after both Harris and Montgomery counties made similar announcements.
#BREAKING: With your feedback, I have extended the #COVID19 "Stay Home to Save Lives" Order until the end of April. I've included as much of your input as possible because the community, science, & data will guide all of my major decisions.— County Judge KP George (@JudgeKPGeorge) April 2, 2020
Order: https://t.co/RPtXoKfX8D pic.twitter.com/hL03c4FkG8
5:50 p.m. -- Brazos County announces 10th case at senior living facility
Brazos County officials said there is a tenth person who tested positive for coronavirus at a College Station senior living facility.
3:10 p.m. -- Montgomery County announces first two deaths
County health officials announced Wednesday that two men, who were residents of The Conservatory at Alden Bridge, have passed away. According to a news release, one of these men was in his 90s and the other man was in his 80s.
A shelter-in-place for the senior living facility in the Woodland was issued on Monday after 12 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed.
2:06 p.m. -- Second youth at Harris County Juvenile Detention Center has tested positive for COVID-19
Harris County Juvenile Detention Center reported a second youth has tested positive for the coronavirus and was placed in medical isolation at the facility. Officials said the youth’s parents was notified as well as the parents and guardians of other children on the unit that may have been exposed to the virus.
Officials said staff who may have had direct contact with the patient at Harris County Juvenile Probation Department were also notified.
On March 29, the youth told officials that they did not feel well and the HCJPD’s medical staff immediately isolated the youth and performed an initial screening that required a coronavirus test. The test results were received on March 31 and the youth is in JDC receiving medical treatment.
12:33 p.m. -- Houston opens second drive-thru coronavirus testing site
Houston officials opened the city’s second drive-thru coronavirus testing site Wednesday.
The site is not open to walk-ups. People must be screened and given a unique ID number before they are directed to the site.
Officials have asked the media to refrain from publishing the locations since walk-ups are not allowed.
To begin the screening process, call 832-393-4220.
12:18 p.m. -- Houston mayor provides coronavirus update
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and other city officials gave an update on the city’s coronavirus response efforts during a news conference Wednesday.
During the update, Turner said the City Council had decided to take $5 million from the economic stabilization fund and set up a fund specifically for anything related to the new coronavirus.
Turner also announces that the city has leased two hotels – and is working on leasing a third – that will serve as quarantine spaces for firefighters, police, municipal workers and the homeless population.
9:53 a.m. -- Cleveland officials say employee has coronavirus
An employee of the city of Cleveland has contracted coronavirus.
According to a news release issued Wednesday morning, the employee is experiencing mild symptoms and is being isolated at home.
“Please know that the City continues work behind the scenes for the community, while being mindful of the safety of our employees,” officials wrote in the news release. “All City departments will continue to operate and provide services throughout this crisis.”
Residents can call City Hall at 281-592-2667 if they have questions or concerns, officials said.
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