COVID-19 In DFW: How The Spread of Coronavirus Is Affecting North Texas | KERA News

COVID-19 In DFW: How The Spread of Coronavirus Is Affecting North Texas

Apr 1, 2020

KERA News has been tracking how COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, is affecting North Texas. Here's what's been happening day-to-day. 

Tarrant County Extends Stay-At-Home Order Until April 30

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley on Friday modified elements of the county's COVID-19 disaster order.

The new order extends the county’s disaster declaration and stay-at-home decree to April 30. The previous order was to end on Tuesday.

An addendum to the order also defines restrictions on in-person worship services in the county, days before Christians celebrate Palm Sunday and Jewish Passover begins: "As of April 3, 2020, the Tarrant County public health officer identifies substantial community spread/transmission; therefore, all in-person gatherings of any size are prohibited."

Dallas County's Stay-At-Home Order Extended Until April 30 

Dallas County Commissioners on Friday voted to extend a local disaster declaration until May 20. And Judge Clay Jenkins says he's extending the county's stay-at-home order until April 30.

Jenkins posted a note on Twitter Friday afternoon explaining the matter.

“Based on the extension of the Declaration of Disaster granted today, I am extending the Dallas County Safer at Home Order to April 30,” Jenkins wrote. “The Declaration of Disaster is necessary to provide the tools to lead you through this. The Safer at Home Orders are the rules we ask of you.”

Jenkins says that local hospital officials believe a stay-at-home order will be needed until late May – and that he’ll re-evaluate the matter in late April.

Friday's vote came as the county reported more than 900 cases of COVID-19.

Jenkins said during the meeting that the extension is designed to help give "health care workers their best chance of having the capacity to take care of people and not have the hospitals be overrun."

"Your decision to put public health first sends a strong message to healthcare heroes and residents,"  Jenkins wrote on Twitter. "We will continue to work with you, the business community and residents to save lives."

Commissioner John Wiley Price expressed concerns about the extension.

“Sixty days … will decimate my community,” Price said during Friday's meeting. “I’m having some real trepidation on how we continue on this so-called journey for the next 60 days.”

He’s worried about local businesses that have been shut down because they’re not considered essential. He says they’re “dying on the vine” and “cannot sustain themselves.”

“A dog can get a haircut but people in my community can’t get a haircut,” Price said.

We have updated this post to incorporate Jenkins' additional comments on social media and to offer more details on the April 30 and May 20 extensions. 

Denton County Reports 19 New Cases, 6th Death

Denton County Public Health is reporting the sixth death from COVID-19 and 19 more cases of the disease. The latest patient was a resident of nursing facility in Lewisville. She was in her 70s.

The 19 new cases bring the Denton County total to 273.

Collin County Announces 2nd COVID-19 Related Death

Collin County Health Care Services is reporting the second death related to the coronavirus in the county. The woman, 41, was a resident of Anna and had underlying health complications.

Dallas County Announces 90 More Cases

Dallas County Health and Human Services is reporting 90 more positive cases of COVID-19 in Dallas County. This beings the total number of cases in the county to 921, including 17 deaths.

Tarrant County is reporting one more death from COVID-19, which brings the county's total deaths to seven. County Public Health Director Danny Taneja said in a statement that the latest patient was a Fort Worth resident with underlying health conditions.

According to the Tarrant County website, the total number of cases has risen to 383.

6th Dallas Police Officer Tests Positive

Dallas Police Department is reporting a sixth officer has tested positive for COVID-19. The traffic officer is in home quarantine.

A narcotics officer from police headquarters is under quarantine after the officer's spouse tested positive. Both officers' work areas and equipment have been sanitized. The police department's medical team will assess if quarantine is necessary for other officers.

Dallas Hospitals Update Capacity

Fifteen Dallas hospitals have reported bed capacity and number of ventilators.

  • Total beds: 4,763
  • Beds occupied: 2,365
  • Total ICU beds: 717
  • ICU beds occupied: 413
  • Total ventilators: 838
  • Ventilators in use: 245

These numbers are a point-in-time count. They mau change throughout the day.

Hospitals reporting are: Baylor University Medical Center, Baylor Scott & White - Uptown, Children's Health Dallas, Children's Health Our Children's House, Medical City Dallas, Medical City Heart Hospital, Medical City Spine Hospital, Methodist Charlton, Methodist Dallas, North Central Surgical Center Hospital, Parkland Health & Hospital System, Texas Health Resources (Presbyterian & Texas Institute for Surgery), Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, UT Southwestern William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital.

Coronavirus Continues To Spread In North Texas And The State 

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Texas reached over 5,200 Friday morning, according to numbers from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. More than 1,600 of those cases are in North Texas. There have been at least 58 deaths related to the disease in the state, at least 28 of those who died lived in North Texas.

Wednesday, Dallas County reported 100 additional cases of COVID-19 and the county's 17th death from the disease. Tarrant County reported two additional deaths.

There have been over 1 million cases of the disease reported across the globe. In the U.S., more than 245,000 cases of the disease and over 6,000 deaths have been reported.

Thursday, April 2

Dallas County Reports 100 More COVID-19 Cases

Dallas County Health and Human Services reports an additional 100 positive cases of COVID-19. The 16th and 17th deaths are reported, including a woman in her 70s who was a resident of a long-term care facility and a woman in her 80s who lived in Dallas.

Tarrant County Reports Three More Deaths

Tarrant County Public Health confirmed three more county residents have died after testing positive for COVID-19. Two lived in Forest Hill; one lived in Fort Worth.

Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja said all three patients were elderly with underlying health conditions.

Dallas Police Confirms 5th Officer Tests Positive

The Dallas Police Department confirms that an officer from the Southeast Patrol has tested positive for COVID-19. The officer's last day in the office was March 28.

Hospitals Report Bed, Ventilator Numbers

Twelve Dallas hospitals reported bed capacity and number of ventilators to Mayor Eric Johnson on Thursday, as required by the city's emergency regulations.

  • Total beds: 4343
  • Beds occupied: 2267
  • Total ICU beds: 565
  • ICU beds occupied: 315
  • Total ventilators: 622
  • Ventilators in use: 188

These numbers reflect a point-in-time count and may change throughout the day.

Dallas County COVID-19 Response Fund Created To Help

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and the Communities Foundation of Texas have created the Dallas County COVID-19 Response Fund to help frontline responders stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Trustees of the fund include Dallas ISD trustee Miguel Solis; Dr. Michael Horne, president and CEO fo the Parkland Foundation; Lynn McBee, CEO of Young Women's Prep Network; and Debbie Branson, lawyer at The Law Offices of Frank Branson.

So far, $100,000 has been pledged to the fund.

Texas Tops 4,600 Cases, Reports 68 Deaths

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Texas reached over 4,600 Thursday morning, according to numbers from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. More than 1,400 of those cases are in North Texas. There have been at least 58 deaths related to the disease in the state.

Across the U.S. there have been more than 216,000 cases of the disease and over 5,000 deaths reported.

Plano To Enforce Social Distancing Rules At Parks

Plano's using parks and recreation workers and library staffers to enforce social distancing in city parks.

The Dallas Morning News reports the city's sending the workers out as "friendly monitors" to the parks to remind people to keep at least six feet from others.

Some North Texas cities like Dallas have threatened to close all its parks and trails if people continue to overcrowd them, but a statement from leaders in Plano stated they want residents to continue to benefit from the city's 85 parks and nature preserves.

Fort Worth ISD Board Grants Superintendent More Powers To Handle Coronavirus Closure

The Fort Worth School board has voted to give the superintendent executive powers to streamline decision-making during the coronavirus shutdown.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports Kent Scribner will be allowed to unilaterally make decisions that fall under 11 categories, including decisions regarding payment of employees, altering the school district calendar, making purchases for the district and authorizing waivers with the Texas Education Agency.

Scribner also has the authority to provide educational services to students through e-learning.

He will report all decisions to the board, but will not need to consult them beforehand.

Fabian Hernandez’ Execution Delayed Due To Coronavirus

Another scheduled execution of a Texas death row inmate has been delayed because of the spread of coronavirus.

Fabian Hernandez was set to receive a lethal injection April 23 for the 2006 shooting deaths of his estranged wife and one of her friends in El Paso.

The state criminal appeals court cited COVID-19 as the reason for issuing two delays last month, but did not specify why they delayed Hernandez’ sentence.

His attorney requested a delay because of the “current health crisis.”

Wednesday, April 1

Denton County Reports 25 New Cases 

Denton County Public Health announced 25 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the total case count in the county to 231. 

DCPH have not found any additional positive cases of COVID-19 among residents or staff at Denton State Supported Living, where a cluster of over 70 positive cases were confirmed. 

Coming May 5: An Emergency North Texas Giving Day

The folks behind North Texas Giving Day are planning a special spring fund-raising day in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The May 5 event will be called North Texas Giving Tuesday Now. It will be part of an international effort that day, #GivingTuesdayNow.

The local effort is being led by a number of philanthropic organizations, including the Communities Foundation of Texas, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and the Dallas Cowboys.

Last fall, North Texas Giving Day raised more than $50 million for almost 3,000 nonprofits. The May 5 event will work the same way: Donors will be able to go on a website and make a contribution to their favorite nonprofit. They’ll also have an option to donate to an emergency fund or choose organizations specifically responding to the pandemic.

Dallas County Reports 100 New Cases, 2 More Deaths

Dallas County is reporting 100 additional cases COVID-19, bringing the total case count in the county to 731. The county is also reporting the 14th and 15th deaths from the illness. One was a Mesquite man in his 50s, the other a Garland woman in her 80s. Officials say both individuals had been critically ill in local hospitals. 

The numbers of intensive care unit hospitalizations from COVID-19 from this past week have exceeded the peak week of ICU hospitalizations from influenza this past 2019-2020 season in Dallas County.

“We’re beginning to see the curve rise and we all must do our part to exercise personal responsibility,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement. “Along those lines, many of our faith leaders have stepped up to provide the help needed so that our churches and religious organizations, regardless of size, will have the capability to do remote services in compliance with Gov. Abbott’s order yesterday, without subjecting their congregations to increased chances of exposure that would come from meeting in congregant settings. As a result of the uncertainty around the order, I am working with the State on behalf of our federal partners, to get them the answers they need. We are all in this together and together we will #FlattenTheCurve.”

Tarrant County Reports 2 Additional COVID-19 Deaths

Tarrant County Public Health today confirmed that two additional county residents have died after testing positive for COVID-19 . One patient was an adult man from Hurst and the other an adult woman from Fort Worth.

Tarrant County has now had a total of three confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja said in a statement both patients had underlying health conditions.

“We express our deepest sympathy to the families,” he said.

Collin County Reports 24 New COVID-19 Cases

Collin County is reporting an additional 24 COVID-19 cases bringing the countywide total to 184 confirmed cases.

According to the county website, 53 people have successfully recovered, 24 are hospitalized and 106 remain in home isolation.

There's been one coronavirus-related reported in the county. 

Edit note: We changed April 1's total cases number for Collin County on April 5 to correct a typo. 

City Of Dallas Says Eight Hospitals Reported Data On 1st Day New Regulations

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson’s office says eight hospitals reported ventilator and bed capacity numbers on Tuesday — the first day of new daily reporting requirements in the city.

The reporting requirements are part of a new set of emergency regulations the city’s imposing, that officials say are meant to provide data to decision-makers and the public on the community's capacity to handle an expected increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

"As I said when we required the daily COVID-19 testing data from all public and private labs in the city, transparency and facts are key to slowing the spread of this virus," Mayor Johnson said in a statement.

According to the city, as of Tuesday, 192 of the 631 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Dallas County have required hospitalization at some point. Of those hospitalized, 59 people were admitted to intensive care units, and 42 received mechanical ventilation, according to Dallas County.

Here are the totals for Tuesday as reported by the eight hospitals:

  • Total beds: 2,868 
  • Beds occupied: 1,542Total 
  • ICU beds: 361
  • ICU beds occupied: 204 
  • Total ventilators: 342
  • Ventilators in use: 139

City officials say they’re working to identify other hospitals that must report capacity numbers.

Gov. Abbott Creates Program Where Citizens Can Pay For Care Packages For Texas Families

Texas is creating a program to provide meals for at-risk families across the state as part of its response to COVID-19. 

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that the Comfort Food Care Package (CFCP) will offer participating restaurant customers the opportunity to purchase care packages for families and youth in need. Each care package contains enough food to feed a family of five to six and will be delivered to recipients’ homes. 

The program is a partnership between the Governor's Public Safety Office, the Texas network of Family and Youth Success Programs,Favor Delivery, and the Texas Restaurant Association. 

"Thank you to the generous Texans and restaurants across the state for stepping up to provide meals to families in need,"Abbott said in a statement. "The Comfort Food Care Package program will provide at-risk youth and families with an additional food source, while giving Texans another way to support local restaurants and their fellow Texans experiencing hardships due to COVID-19." 

Abbott’s office said families interested in participating in the program should contact their local Family and Youth Success Program for more information. Restaurants interested in participating can sign up on the Texas Restaurant Association website.

4th Dallas Police Officer Tests Positive for COVID-19

Dallas Police confirmed in a statement Wednesday morning that a fourth officer tested positive for COVID-19. 

According to officials, the officer worked at South Central Patrol on the second watch and has been out of the office since feeling sick on Tuesday, March 24. They also said no other officers or staff at South Central have shown any signs or symptoms of the coronavirus at this point. 

“Please keep the officer in your thoughts and prayers for a full recovery,” the statement said.

Officials said the department’s medical team will assess if other officers need to quarantine, and that the area of the e building where the officer who’s been diagnosed worked has been sprayed and sanitized by a professional contractor.  

28 UT-Austin Students Positive For Coronavirus After Spring Break Trip

Health officials say more than two dozen University of Texas students have tested positive for the coronavirus after taking a spring break trip to Mexico. 

The Austin Public Health Department says a group of about 70 people in their 20s took a chartered plane to Cabo San Lucas about 10 days ago. So far, 28 people in the group have tested positive for COVID-19, and dozens more are being monitored. 

The Austin American-Statesman reports that the students were on a group trip that had not been canceled by the travel company. --Associated Press

Texas Health and Human Services Launches Statewide Mental Health Support Line

Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) is launching a statewide mental health support line to help those suffering from depression, anxiety or other emotional challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Callers will be directly connected to mental health providers and the service is confidential. The hotline's available 24-hours-a-day, every day, free of charge at 833-986-1919.

“Through this new effort, we are connecting Texans with mental health professionals who can help provide support to those who are feeling overwhelmed and stressed,” HHS Deputy Executive Commissioner for Intellectual and Developmental Disability and Behavioral Health Services Sonja Gaines said in a statement. “It can be helpful to talk to someone when you are facing anxiety, depression and stress, which are not uncommon to experience in the face of a rapidly changing situation like a pandemic.”

The support line will be operated by the Harris Center for Mental Health and Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities.

Texas Tops 3,900 COVID-19 Cases, Reports 58 Deaths

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Texas reached 3,925 Wednesday morning, according to numbers from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. More than 1,200 of those cases are in North Texas. There have been at least 58 deaths related to the disease in the state.

Across the U.S. there have been nearly 190,000 cases of the disease reported. Tuesday, a record number of deaths in the country were reported bringing the total number of people who have died to 4,081 as of Wednesday morning.

Clay Jenkins Disagrees With Gov. Abbott Defining Religious Services As ‘Essential’

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins supported most of Gov. Abbott's order that calls for non-essential business to close through at least the end of April, but he took issue with the governor defining religious services as essential activities.

Jenkins said at a briefing Tuesday he talked with several pastors and the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. He said the faith leaders agreed to open their studios to faith groups who currently aren’t able to broadcast their services.

"So here in Dallas County it essentially won't change because as the Governor's orders says, 'if religious services cannot be conducted at home or through remote services,.” Jenkins said. “Every faith community in Dallas will now have access to doing it through remote service.”

He also said at the briefing Dallas County's requiring the county hospital and all system hospitals to report the total number of patient beds and patients beds occupied, including in intensive care units, as well as the number of ventilators available and being used.

Fort Worth Small Business Face Growing Concerns Due To COVID-19 Pandemic

Nearly half of Fort Worth businesses in a recent city survey say they've seen at least a 60% decrease in revenue since early March. And one-third of respondents say they've seen a drop of more than 80%.

The survey has received more than 1,200 responses so far from a variety of industries -- including hospitality and tourism, professional services, manufacturing and retail. Most of the responses are from small businesses with fewer than 25 employees.

Over half of the businesses say they do not have a policy for employees working remotely.

Officials in Fort Worth and elsewhere say they are working on options to provide assistance to businesses.

The Artist Relief Fund provides one-time $300 grants to support musicians, visual artists and filmmakers.

The AssistHer Emergency Relief Grant from Texas Woman’s University assists Texas-based, woman-owned businesses affected by COVID-19. --Galilee Abdullah

Dallas Business Making Equipment For Medical Workers Face Fines Due To Code Confusion

When non-essential businesses in Dallas were ordered to close for a shelter-in-place order, some of them found a way to stay in business by making personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical workers.

But City Council member Chad West says there's been some confusion with code officers who are recognizing those businesses as non-essential and asking them to close down.

At a meeting Tuesday, West suggested the city issue those businesses a letter or certification so they can keep producing PPE and avoid getting tickets.

"It just leaves a bad taste in their mouths at a time when they're already stressed out," he said.

West hopes those letters or certifications go out soon, but did not offer a timeline. --Bekah Morr

Tuesday, March 31

Collin County Rescinds Order That Declared All Businesses Essential

Collin County Judge Chris Hill on Tuesday night rescinded an earlier order that generated criticism because it had declared all businesses essential. The decision came hours after Gov. Greg Abbott ordered Texans to remain home and for nonessential business to close through at least April.

Collin County’s earlier order had been criticized by various local leaders, including Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who had called for a unified regional approach to try to limit the number of cases of COVID-19.

Dallas County Announces Help For Unbanked, Efforts To Make Personal Protective Gear

In Dallas County, grocery chains like Kroger, Walmart and Tom Thumb will help those without checking accounts by waiving fees and cashing checks, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins announced Tuesday night.

Jenkins also emphasized residents should make an effort to make less frequent visits to the grocery store to protect the safety of store workers and customers. 

He also urged local businesses to make personal protective equipment, which the county is running low on. Jenkins said businesses who make PPE will be compensated for their efforts. 

Dallas County on Tuesday reported 82 new positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the case count countywide to 631.

Two additional people in Dallas County have died from the disease, bringing the total number of deaths countywide to 13. One Rowlett man was in his 50s and a Dallas man was in his 90s. Both had other high-risk chronic health conditions, officials said.

4:55 p.m. - Denton County Announces 4th COVID-19 Related Death, 15 New Cases 

Denton County Public Health announced the county’s fourth COVID-19 related death and 15 new positive cases of COVID-19, increasing the total case count in the county to 206.

The patient who died was a male resident of The Colony who was in his 60’s. He was a previously reported case of local transmission in the county who was hospitalized.

“Today, we have learned of yet another death due to COVID-19 which has impacted our communities in Denton County,” Denton County Judge Andy Eads said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to this man’s family as well as the families of those who have also been victims of this terrible pandemic.”

Eads said the Commissioners Court has extended social distancing regulations until April 7 and anticipates another extension. 

3:43 p.m. - Gov. Abbott Extends Social Distancing Regulations 

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Tuesday, extending social distancing regulations until April 30 and school closures until May 4.

He's also ordered nonessential businesses closed through April.

The latest order could be extended. 

The previous executive order had extended social distancing guidelines until 11:59 p.m. this Friday. 

 

The regulations ban gatherings of 10 or more people, require school closures of in-person classrooms and urge Texans to avoid restaurants, bars, gyms and massage parlors. People are also banned from visiting nursing homes or long-term care facilities unless they are providing essential services. 

 

“Social distancing is our best tool in the fight against COVID-19, and the actions we have taken thus Abbott insisted he was not imposing a blanket stay-at-home order. But his restrictions are in line with other states that have such orders. Also, all of Texas' largest counties already have imposed stay-at-home orders. far have proven to be effective in limiting the spread of this virus,” Abbott said. “Now it is time to redouble our efforts to reduce further exposure as much as possible and flatten the curve.” 

 

Abbott insisted he was not imposing a blanket stay-at-home order. But his restrictions are in line with other states that have such orders. Also, all of Texas' largest counties already have imposed stay-at-home orders.  

3rd Fort Worth Police Officer Tests Positive For COVID-19

A third Fort Worth Police officer has tested positive for COVID-19. In a statement today, the department says all three officers who have contracted the disease are in self-isolation at home. 

“We are in this together with our community and we want to be as transparent as possible in providing information about the status of our officers while respecting their privacy,” the department said in a statement. “We can confirm that all three officers work in the same unit and we are taking every precaution to stop the spread.”

Officials say the department has a team dedicated to investigating the officers’ movements and notifying people they’ve encountered. They also say the officers’ vehicles and work areas are being cleaned and disinfected.

 COVID-19 Cases Continue To Increase In North Texas  

Dallas County has 82 additional positive cases as of Tuesday afternoon, bringing the case count countywide to 631.

Two additional people in Dallas County have died from the disease bringing the total number of deaths countywide to 13. One man whose death was reported today was in his 50s and lived in Rowlett, the other man was a Dallas resident in his 90s. According to a statement from officials, both had other high-risk chronic health conditions. 

There are 26 COVID-19 cases associated with long-term care facilities in Dallas County, including two deaths, that have been reported within the past week. 

“We are at the beginning of what will be a difficult time for Texas, especially here,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement. “We need each one of you to #StayInTheFight! To do that, I need you to practice self-care, have faith in the science, and #StaySafebyStayingHome.”

The total number of cases in Collin and Tarrant counties also increased Monday. Currently, 160 Collin County residents there have tested positive. Tarrant County's website lists an additional 118 cases today bringing the total number of cases in the county to 273. The numbers on Tarrant County's site are provisional and subject to change.

Texas Attorney General Files Appeal To Uphold State’s Temporary Abortion Ban

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is filing an appeal to enforce Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order postponing any unnecessary medical procedures, which includes not performing abortions unless the mother’s life is in danger.

The appeal comes after a federal judge on Monday issued a temporary restraining order to block the portion of the order that applies to abortions.

In a statement, Paxton said abortion clinics want special treatment that doesn’t apply to other health care providers in the state.

“Abortion providers who refuse to follow state law are demonstrating a clear disregard for Texans suffering from this medical crisis,” Paxton said. “For years, abortion has been touted as a ‘choice’ by the same groups now attempting to claim that it is an essential procedure. All Texans must work together to stop the spread of COVID-19. My office will continue to defend Gov. Abbott’s order to ensure that supplies and personal protective gear reach the hardworking medical professionals who need it the most during this health crisis.” 

Groups that support abortion rights are critical of the executive order.

“Abortion care is a right and must be prioritized as a timely, necessary procedure as part of the full spectrum of Texans’ reproductive health care,” according to a statement from Progress Texas.

Dallas Mayor Creates New Reporting Requirements For Ventilators, Hospital Capacity As City Preps Convention Center Pop-Up Hospital

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson is issuing a new set of emergency regulations requiring hospitals to report daily information to the city regarding bed and ventilator capacity.

The reporting requirements are intended to help Dallas assess health care infastrustructure needs and prepare for a possible surge in hospitalizations related to COVID-19’s spread.

"With the data, we can effectively manage our resources in the event of a surge in hospitalizations," Johnson said during a press conference Tuesday. "We can also give the public a better idea of the severity of this pandemic as we see more cases of hospitalization."

Another mesure the city is taking is converting the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center into the state's first pop-up hospital, with 250 beds. Johnson says it could house up to 1,400 beds if needed. He says data from hospitals will help inform how the pop-up hospital is used. 

Johnson has also updated the city’s emergency regulations to match Dallas County’s recent orders, including the new order regarding long-term care facilities and construction.

Judge Blocks Dallas' Paid Sick Leave Ordinance Days Before Enforcement Was To Begin

A Texas judge issued an injunction Monday night against the city of Dallas’ sick leave ordinance, finding that the local measure runs afoul of federal and state law.

Dallas’ ordinance has been in effect since August, though enforcement wasn’t slated to start until Wednesday. The injunction halting implementation, however, comes amid a deadly coronavirus outbreak that has sickened at least 3,000 in the state. Dallas County leads the state in the number of novel coronavirus cases.

Read more from The Texas Tribune.

Texas Tops 3,300 Cases, Reports 48 Deaths

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Texas reached 3,339 Tuesday morning, according to numbers from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. More than 1,000 of those cases are in North Texas. There have been at least 48 deaths related to the disease in the state.

Late Monday, Collin County officials announced there were 26 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county bringing the countywide total to 160. 

Dallas County closed drive-through testing sites due to weather Monday. They're expected to reopen today at 8 a.m.

JPS Health Network Testing Sterilization Process For Masks

In Tarrant County, JPS Health Network says it’s treating patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, including staff members.

The hospital describes its supply levels as “good.” But it’s exploring all avenues with non-traditional vendors for deliveries.

JPS says it’s testing a sterilization process for N-95 masks, which are in higher demand. Officials say they are not accepting donations of fabric masks at this time since they can’t ensure their safety or performance.

Officials say they’re satisfied with current staffing levels, but that they’re exploring additional training for staff and nursing students who would be able to step in if JPS sees more patients.

JPS says it’s also developing plans to reopen its Surgical Center in Arlington to treat patients who do not have COVID-19. -- Eric Aasen

Fort Worth Shuts Down Basketball, Volleyball Courts

Fort Worth officials have closed all basketball and volleyball courts in the city. Basketball rims and volleyball nets are being removed. That’s due to crowds seen at parks over the weekend and people who weren’t practicing social distancing, officials said.

Monday, March 30

Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Texas' Ban On Abortions During Coronavirus Pandemic

A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked Texas' ban on abortions, a prohibition state officials said was necessary to preserve medical resources during the coronavirus pandemic.

The ruling came less than a week after Texas abortion providers announced a lawsuit against top state officials, challenging Attorney General Ken Paxton's assertion that Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning all procedures deemed to not be medically necessary should be interpreted to include abortions.

The court granted the abortion providers’ motion to temporarily block the state from enforcing the order, which was set to expire April 21, as it relates to abortions. The temporary restraining order will expire on April 13.

“Regarding a woman's right to a pre-fetal-viability abortion, the Supreme Court has spoken clearly,” wrote U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel. “There can be no outright ban on such a procedure.” 

Read the full story from The Texas Tribune.

Denton County Reports 26 New Cases, 3rd Death

Denton County Public Health (DCPH) is reporting the third COVID-19 related death in the county. The patient was a woman in her 60s who was previously reported hospitalized and contracted the disease locally.

“The news of a third individual’s death due to COVID-19 is tragic. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this difficult time,” said Denton County Judge Andy Eads. “This situation underscores the need to follow the Stay-at-Home mandate. We need everyone’s cooperation to help protect the health of all our residents, especially our most vulnerable.”

DCPH is also reporting 26 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county. This increases the countywide total to 191 confirmed COVID-19 cases. The number of confirmed cases among residents at the Denton State Supported Living Center has increased to 49. There are also 22 staff members who have tested positive.

MedStar Paramedics To Help Officials With In-Home Coronavirus Testing

A North Texas ambulance provider is partnering with health officials so that its paramedics can go into homes and perform coronavirus testing on previously screened patients.

Specially trained paramedics with MedStar will be sent to the homes of Tarrant County residents who are being investigated by officials as possibly having the virus.

Matt Zavadsky, a spokesman for the ambulance provider, says the tests aren't open to the public, only for those being monitored by the county health department.

Specially trained paramedics will go to a home, take a swab from a patient and return the sample for testing. The home visits will take about 30 minutes. -- Associated Press

Dallas County Reports 61 New Cases, 11th Death

Dallas County Health and Human Services on Monday reported 61 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the county’s total case count to 549. The county also reported its 11th death – a Dallas man in his 40s who had other high-risk chronic health conditions and was found dead in his residence.

State Health Services Department Awarded Federal Grant

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn announced today that the Texas Department of State Health Services is getting more than $2 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The funds are directed to the state's Hospital Preparedness Program which serves 22 trauma service areas.

“As more and more people are being tested and diagnosed with COVID-19, our hospitals and health care providers need additional support so they can continue to serve patients,” said Sen. Cornyn.

 Dallas Cancels Testing Due To Weather

Officials say they're canceling COVID-19 testing Monday at American Airlines Center and Ellis Davis Field House in Dallas due to expected inclement weather.

Testing will resume on Tuesday at 8 a.m.

Sunday, March 29

In Dallas County, Clusters Of Cases At Centers That Serve Seniors  

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins is asking residents to consider taking their loved ones out of local nursing homes. That’s after health officials identified clusters of COVID-19 at two facilities: Edgemere Senior Living and Skyline Nursing Center. Jenkins says residents coming home from affected facilities must be quarantined alongside their families.

“Before you pick up your loved one, you’ll want to stock up on groceries because when you’re under quarantine, you cannot go to the grocery store,” Jenkins said Sunday. “You cannot go anywhere.”

Dallas County reported its 10th death from COVID-19 Sunday. The patient was a woman in her 80s who lived in the Edgemere community. She had been hospitalized and had high-risk chronic health conditions.

Dallas County on Sunday reported 49 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the county's total case count to 488. --Syeda Hasan and Domini Davis

In Dallas County, More Than One-Third Of Hospitalized Patients In ICU

So far, most people in Dallas County diagnosed with COVID-19 have not required hospitalization. But the number of patients being admitted is on the rise.

That’s according to the latest coronavirus report from Dallas County Health and Human Services. It analyzed cases reported through this past Friday. 

The majority of hospitalized Dallas County COVID-19 patients have been over 60 or have been known to have at least one high‐risk chronic health condition. Officials say 36% of hospitalized patients have been admitted to intensive care units. 

Throughout the county, a majority of patients who have tested positive live in the city of Dallas. The nonprofit Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation has been working with the county to analyze the geographic distribution of COVID-19 cases. The group reports higher concentrations in pockets of southwest and north central Dallas County. --Syeda Hasan 

Denton County Announces 17 More Cases

Denton County Public Health on Sunday announced 17 additional cases of COVID-19. This increases the countywide total to 165.

The county reported five new cases involving residents at the Denton State Supported Living Center; a total of 45 residents have tested positive for COVID-19. Nine staff members at the center have also tested positive; two live outside Denton County.

Gov. Abbott Issues Updates, New Executive Orders

Gov. Greg Abbott announced today that Dallas' Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center has been set up to provide additional medical care should it be needed in the coming weeks to treat COVID-19 patients.

Abbott has also expanded recent executive orders today:

  • Travel by road from any location in Louisiana into Texas will require 14-day self-quarantine.
  • Air travelers from Miami, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago and any city in California and Washington will have to self-quarantine for 14 days in Texas.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said he’s grateful for the state’s assistance.

“The availability of hospital beds will be crucial to saving lives in the event of a surge in COVID-19 cases," Johnson said in a statement. "We will continue to work with Governor Abbott to ensure Dallas has the necessary resources to help us through these difficult times.”

Dallas Park Officials Warn Of Overcrowding At Parks, Trails

Dallas park officials say overcrowding may force them to close the city's trails and 397 parks, so they have taken steps to alleviate crowding at certain parks and trails in the city, particularly Katy Trail and White Rock Lake. Visitors, officials say, are not observing social distancing rules.

Barricades have been placed at some entrances, and park rangers are monitoring spaces to ensure that visitors are complying with the safe distance requirement of six feet.

12:56 p.m. - 2 Fort Worth Police Officers Test Positive For COVID-19

Two Fort Worth police officers have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a press release today.

Both officers, who work in the same unit, have been in self-isolation at their homes. According to the statement, both officers had limited close contact with others while at work.

Saturday, March 28

5 p.m. - Gov. Abbott Waives Certain Licensing Regulations For Pharmacists, Technicians

Gov. Greg Abbott has waived certain licensing renewal regulations for Texas pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and technicians in training. With these waivers, temporarily extending expiration dates for licenses and suspending continuing education requirements.

"As our state responds to COVID-19, it is important that Texans continue to have access to the services they depend on to meet their daily needs," Abbott said in a statement. "With these waivers, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians can continue to meet the needs of their fellow Texans without potential delays caused by an expired license."

 4:10 p.m. - Denton County Reports 11 New Cases, 2nd Death

Denton County Public Health (DCPH) is reporting the second COVID-19 related death in the county. According to a statement, the patient, a male from Aubrey in his 60s, was previously reported hospitalized. He contracted the disease through local transmission.

“We are saddened to report a second COVID-19 death within our county,” Denton County Judge Andy Eads said. “To his family, we continue to send our thoughts and prayers to you as you navigate through this difficult time.” 

DCPH is also reporting 11 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19, including one resident of the Denton State Supported Living Center (DSSLC). This increases the countywide total to 148 confirmed COVID-19 cases and the DSSLC resident total to 40. 

3:15 p.m. - FW-Based Lena Pope Launches Hotline To Help Parents Cope With Challenges Of Stay-At-Home Orders

Fort Worth-based child services organization Lena Pope launched a hotline to help parents and caregivers who are struggling with emotional, mental health or behavioral challenges that are being exacerbated by recent stay-at-home orders. The hotline is staffed by mental and behavioral health professionals on weekdays.

Called the Stay Strong Hotline, the launch comes as officials are seeing a spike in child abuse and domestic violence cases brought on by increased stress and enforced closeness of stay-at-home orders.

“The ‘stay home’ mandate is designed to protect our physical health and the well-being of our community,” said Dr. Ashley Elgin, CEO of Lena Pope, in a statement. “Unfortunately, long-term social distancing that’s necessary to flatten the curve of coronavirus in our community can have an adverse psychological affect by creating or exacerbating family stressors. We created the helpline to help families stay strong while staying home.”

Last week, Cook Children’s Hospital said that it had admitted seven children suffering injuries from severe abuse over the course of a week, two of whom had died from their injuries.

"We usually only average six deaths from abuse a year at Cook Children's and now we've had two children die on the same day," said Jamye Coffman, medical director of the Cook Children’s Center for Prevention and Child Abuse and Neglect and the hospital’s CARE team, in a hospital blog post​. "This is an issue related to stress. We are seeing it from all over from urban area to more rural counties."

Lena Pope’s Stay Strong helpline number is 817-806-9920, and the center’s mental and behavioral health professionals will take calls from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. 

Childhelp.org also offers a resource for parents and children.

Suspected child abuse or neglect can be reported by contacting the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400 or through the TDFPS website. The Texas Abuse Hotline is 1-800-252-5400.

1:55 p.m - Dallas County Reports 72 New COVID-19 Cases

Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) is reporting 72 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the county to 439. Officials are also reporting two additional deaths: a DeSoto man in his 50s and a Dallas man in his 70s. 

According to a statement from officials, both men had been critically ill in local hospitals. Hospitalizations from COVID-19 are increasing, with 36% of all hospitalized patients requiring admission to intensive care units.

“One of today’s deaths is a man in his 50s with no known underlying conditions. This serves as a sober reminder that COVID-19 is a dangerous disease for everyone and is why it’s so important that we all need to stay home to stay safe,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement. “I am so proud of the work of our first responders, health heroes and our executive teams, but I’m also proud of the spirit of community that we are seeing through North Texas. Together, we’ll #FlattenTheCurve.”

12 p.m. - Texas Temporarily Waives Renewal Requirements for Medicaid, SNAP

Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today SNAP and Medicaid benefit renewals currently up for renewal will automatically be renewed in an effort to help people maintain coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During this difficult time, we’re making sure Texans in need continue to receive their food and medical benefits without the added worry of having to renew their coverage in the midst of a crisis,” HHS Deputy Executive Commissioner for Access and Eligibility Services, Wayne Salter, said in a statement.

The state is also waiving interview requirements for families applying for SNAP. That way people don’t have to come into an office or call officials about their application or renewal, and HHS can make eligibility determinations faster.  

9 a.m. - Texas Tops 2,000 COVID-19 Cases

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Texas topped 2,000 Saturday morning, according to numbers from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. More than 700 of those cases are in North Texas. There have been at least 26 deaths related to the disease in the state. 

As part of the state’s ongoing response to the pandemic, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday he’s deploying three National Guard Joint Task Force Brigades throughout the state. They’ll focus on boosting the number of drive-through testing centers and finding locations that can be converted into healthcare facilities.

Read More: What's Been Happening On Previous Days 

Friday, March 27

7:25 p.m. - Collin County Reports 32 New Cases

Collin County officials are reporting 32 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the county to 118.

See a breakdown the new cases by city and town here.

4:15 p.m. - 54 New Cases in Denton County, 31 From Denton State Supported Living Center

Denton County Public Health (DCPH) is reporting 54 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county, increasing the countywide total to 137 cases. This includes 31 new cases from Denton State Supported Living Center (DSSLC) and brings the cumulative total at that facility to 39. 

Two DSSLC staff members have tested positive, but one is not included in Denton County totals since they live in a different county.

“Community spread is being seen throughout Denton County now and we continue to stress the importance of physical distancing,” DCPH Director Dr. Matt Richardson said in a statement. “With incubation and transmission timelines, we still expect to see cases continue to rise while community members stay home; however, we hope those numbers begin to flatten within the coming weeks.”

Read the latest press release from the county.

3:30 p.m. - Gov. Abbott To Deploy National Guard in Support of COVID-19 Response

As part of the state’s ongoing response to COVID-19, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday he’s deploying three National Guard Joint Task Force Brigades throughout the state.

"Whether it’s overseas combat, major storms, or deadly viruses, the Texas National Guard is always quick to defend and serve their fellow Texans," Abbott said in a statement. "Texans can be grateful that these troops are now standing their post alongside healthcare professionals and first responders on the front lines of this crisis."

Abbott has ordered the service men and women to focus on assisting at drive-through testing sites and on bolstering the state’s health care infrastructure.

According to a statement from the governor’s office, guard members have practiced erecting and running drive-thru testing sites, and are working with state, local and national partners to identify locations that can be converted to healthcare facilities.

"We are citizen soldiers and we find our highest calling in serving our fellow citizens, no matter where duty calls us," Major General Tracy R. Norris, the adjutant general of Texas and commander of the Texas National Guard, said in a statement. "This will be no easy task but we have faced difficult times before. With the commitment of our soldiers and support of the community we will show the world that we are Texas strong and Texas proud, and together we will overcome this challenge."

Abbott also stressed that these tasks will not diminish the Guard’s ability to meet operational commitments, including the Texas border mission and overseas deployments.

12:48 p.m. - Dallas County Reports New Cases 

Dallas County Health and Human Services reported 64 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the total case count to 367. 

11:08 a.m. - American Airlines, Southwest CEO’s Address Economic-Rescue Bill 

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker says the company is eligible for roughly $12 billion of the $50 billion in grants and loans for passenger airlines under the economic-rescue bill. 

In a video to employees, Parker said some of grant terms aren't clear yet and he is unsure whether the airlines will meet the conditions, including that airlines not furlough or lay off workers until Sept. 30.

Parker said flight cuts will mean "many groups of employees" will work a minimum number of hours "for the next few months." American plans to operate at about 40% of capacity in April and only 20% in May because of the decline in travel. Parker said current flights are on average less than 15% full.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly says the company is losing big money on every single flight. However, Kelly said in a company video that grants from the economic-rescue bill make the company more confident it'll avoid layoffs. 

9:22 a.m. - National Guard Helps With Coronavirus Outbreak In Dallas County 

Dallas County residents may begin seeing military vans in the county.

County Judge Clay Jenkins said don't be alarmed. It's only health care workers from the National Guard. 

"They will be going door to door in neighborhoods doing contact tracing," Jenkins told reporters. "In other words, if a person gets sick and they were around other people, then we have to do disease detective work."

Thursday, March 26

Gov. Abbott Issues Executive Order Quarantining Some Out-Of-State Travelers 

In a press conference on Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced an executive order requiring travelers  from New Jersey, New York, New Orleans or Connecticut to quarantine themselves upon arriving in Texas.

Travelers from these states must remain in quarantine for at least 14 days or the duration of their trip, whichever is shorter.

Arlington ISD Closed Indefinitely

Arlington Independent School District announced Wednesday schools will be closed indefinitely in response to COVID-19.

The district has begun a student meal program providing breakfast and lunch weekdays for students at 23 locations. They’ve also launched the At-Home Learning Hub, an online learning program to keep students engaged.

Denton County Reports 1st COVID-19 Related Death & 13 Additional Cases

Denton County Public Health (DCPH) is reporting the first COVID-19 related death in the county. The patient was a man in his 40s from Lewisville who was hospitalized in Denton County. Officials said in a statement he was the county’s first case of community transmitted COVID-19. 

“Today, as we announce the first death related to COVID-19, we want to offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the individual,” Denton County Judge Andy Eads said in a statement. “I also want to firmly reiterate the importance of heeding the mandatory stay-at-home order Denton County issued this week. We need everyone to heed these orders and stay home. This virus spreads easily and can lead to severe symptoms and death. 

DCPH also announced 13 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19. This increases the countywide total to 83 cases.

1:20 p.m. - Fort Worth Public Health Emergency In Place Until April 7

The city of Fort Worth's public health declaration will be in place until April 7.

The Fort Worth Police Department put out a statement on Thursday correcting “numerous and false claims” that the department is enforcing the city’s stay-at-home declaration by pulling drivers over and asking for documentation. 

“The department is not and will not enforce these types of traffic stops,” the statement said. “If an officer makes a traffic stop, it will be for an observed traffic violation or for investigation of another criminal offense.” 

Correction: This post has been updated to reflect the correct date Fort Worth's public health declaration is currently set to expire. That date is April 7. 

Sheltering In Place? Try Some Virtual North Texas Arts And Entertainment 

If you’ve been bingeing on Netflix and Amazon Prime, you might want to take a sec to appreciate how artists — actors, directors, writers, costume designers, cinematographers — have been helping you get through this current crisis. 

So here’s our partial (let’s call it curated) list of North Texas artists, arts organizations, parks, bookstores and music performances you can access via the web.

Read more on Art&Seek.

11:52 a.m. - North Texas Counties Announce New Cases

Dallas County Health and Human Services reported 56 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total case count in the county to 303 with 7 total deaths. Collin County reported 13 new cases to make a total case count of 66 and Tarrant County announced 10 new cases for a total case count of 100. 

The seventh death in Dallas is a woman in her 90’s who was a resident of the county. She was critically ill in the hospital and did not have other high-risk chronic health conditions. 

Almost two-thirds or 67% of cases that have required hospitalization to date have been over the age of 60 or have had a known high-risk chronic health condition, according to Dallas County’s website

USDA Loosens Requirements So Texas Schools Can Continue To Provide Student Meals

The Texas Department of Agriculture announced the USDA approved waivers that will enable Texas schools to continue providing meals to children, including a change that will allow parents to pick up meals without their child present. 

Federal law previously required a child to be present in order for a parent to grab a meal. But now with shelter-in-place and social distancing regulations, children can stay at home and avoid the “unnecessary risk” of visiting feeding sites. 

"This will bring a huge sigh of relief for Texas parents," said Sid Miller, the agriculture commissioner at the Texas Department of Agriculture. "We didn't want federal guidelines to put children at risk, or add any more burdens to their parents.” 

Another waiver will allow schools to provide meals that might not fulfill the requirement that each meal include the components of dairy, grain, protein, and fruit or vegetable. 

"Normally, these regulations are in place to make sure children get the best, most healthy meal possible,” Miller said. “But as schools and families struggle to adjust to this COVID-19 crisis, we will do all we can to make sure these kids get fed no matter what."

Read More: What's Been Happening On Previous Days 

Wednesday, March 25

More Dallas County Jail Inmates Test Positive  

Five inmates at the Dallas County Jail have now tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

That news came late Wednesday, hours after Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown announced the jail’s first positive case -- a man in his 40s, who’d been in custody since December. That means he likely contracted the disease from another person in the jail. 

Fifty-one people were locked in the same housing unit – four who showed symptoms of COVID-19 were quarantined and later tested positive. Others are now being tested. 

-- Christopher Connelly

7:15 p.m. - McKinney Issues Shelter In Place Order, Closes Nonessential Businesses

The City of McKinney has issued a shelter-in-place order for residents and closed nonessential businesses.

According to the declaration that goes into effect at midnight Thursday, residents should largely stay at home and follow social distancing guidelines if they go outside. Residents may leave home for essential activities, like buying groceries or medicine, to perform essential government functions or to operate essential businesses.

The order also requires nonessential businesses to close temporarily. Businesses not listed in the order as essential must close to the public, and residents working for a nonessential business are required to stay home and not travel to their place of employment.

“I am convinced that the risks of underreacting are so much greater than the risks of overreacting, and although we hope for the best, we must be prudent and plan for the worst,” McKinney Mayor George Fuller said in a statement. “It is going to take all of us, working together, to ensure that we put the health and safety of our community above all else, and I have no doubt that is what we will do.”  

6:15 p.m. - 3 SMU Students Test Positive

Southern Methodist University announced Wednesday afternoon that three students have tested positive for COVID-19.

SMU says the students were tested after leaving campus for spring break and are no longer on campus.

A graduate student attended one class on March 11 after returning from an international study trip — the student tested positive at a local hospital four days later, according to an email to the campus community from SMU President R. Gerald Turner. He says the university is working to inform people most likely to have been in close proximity to the students.

--Ana Perez

5:15 p.m. -  Denton County Confirms 19 New Coronavirus Cases

Wednesday afternoon Denton County Public Health confirmed 19 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number in the county to 70.

Included in the new cases is one additional resident at the Denton State Supported Living Center. A woman in her 50s has been hospitalized. Several residents at the center have now tested positive for COVID-19.

According to information released by county officials, 33 of those diagnosed in Denton County contracted the disease through local transmission. The remaining cases are mostly related to recent travel.

2:30 p.m. - President Trump Approves Texas Disaster Declaration

President Donald Trump approved the Texas disaster declaration, ordering federal assistance to support local COVID-19 recovery efforts.

The move means federal funding is now available for crisis counseling in the state and emergency protective measures in the state, local governments and some private nonprofits. 

Gov. Greg Abbott requested the declaration approval —citing the need for additional federal assistance to protect lives and property during the coronavirus outbreak.

--Justin Martin

1:52 p.m. - Dallas Police Officers Will Not Stop Residents For Shelter-In-Place Ordinance

The Dallas Police Department announced residents will not be stopped and asked for their ID or documentation "without other legitimate reasons for the stop." 

DPD said in a press release that it is focused on educating the public about the ordinance. Officers will inform residents of the shelter-in-place regulations and ask them to voluntarily leave areas. 

1:08 p.m. - American Airlines, Southwest Cancel More Flights

Starting Friday, Southwest Airlines will cancel more of its flights. The Dallas-based carrier says it will cut around 1,500 of its almost 4,000 daily flights through mid-April -- that's nearly 40 percent of its schedule.

Southwest had previously announced it was reducing capacity by at least 20 percent from mid-April through early June.

Fort Worth-based American Airlines recently said it anticipates reducing April's domestic capacity by 20 percent. American will be reducing its international capacity by 75 percent through early May. It will continue to operate one flight daily from DFW International Airport to London and three flights per week from DFW to Tokyo.

--Galilee Abdullah

11:43 a.m. - North Texas Counties Report New Case Counts

On Wednesday, Dallas County reported 78 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the county’s total to 247.  An additional death has raised the total to six deaths in Dallas County. Tarrant County reported 90 cases total and Collin County reported 53 cases total. 

Texas Health Services updated their statewide case count with 974 cases reported and 12 deaths.

9:05 a.m. - Inmate At Dallas Jail Tests Positive For Coronavirus

An inmate at the Dallas County jail has tested positive for the coronavirus, officials announced Wednesday.

The Dallas County Sheriff’s Office said the inmate is no longer being housed at the jail. It is the first known case of the virus at the jail.

9:01 a.m. - Coronavirus Hits Texas Prisons With First Inmate Case Confirmed

The first Texas prisoner has tested positive for the new coronavirus, according to the Texas Tribune

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said Tuesday the 37-year-old man, who has a preexisting respiratory condition, is being treated at the prison system’s hospital in Galveston and has been there for three days. He was in TDCJ custody a little less than a month after a conviction in Harris County on two drug possession charges. The results come one day after the agency reported that a prison counselor who worked at a different facility tested positive.

The prisoner was evaluated Saturday at the Lychner State Jail north of Houston after reporting shortness of breath and a cough, according to a statement from the department. He was sent to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston before being transferred to Galveston for testing for the new coronavirus. The agency said he is in good condition.

Ellis County Approves Stay Home, Stay Safe Order 

The Ellis County Commissioners Court have approved an order requiring residents to shelter-in-place. 

The order will be effective from 11:59 p.m. Wednesday through April 3. 

The order was approved by a 3-2 vote.  

“We need to flatten the curve…it is my recommendation that we implement a shelter in place here in Ellis County,” said Dr.Leigh Nordstrom, The Ellis County local health authority. 

In Ellis County there were eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 and an additional 20 people being monitored as of Tuesday night. 

Find the full order here

Tuesday, March 24

5:40 p.m. - State Changes COVID-19 Reporting Method Bringing Total Cases To 715

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is updating its method of reporting COVID-19 cases in the state. The DSHS daily case count now includes all cases reported publicly by local health departments around the state, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 715.

“We want to make sure the public and local leaders have the best possible information in one place as they make decisions about COVID-19,” Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner, said in a statement. “This new method allows us to share case counts faster.”

See updated case counts in a new interactive map.

 5:30 p.m. - Denton County Reports 15 New COVID-19 Cases

Denton County Public Health (DCPH) is reporting 15 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county. This increases the countywide total of confirmed cases 51.

“DCPH is identifying and contacting individuals who may have been exposed. Any individuals identified as having been exposed will be contacted directly by DCPH,” the county said in a statement. “No further personal information will be released to protect patient confidentiality.”

3:22 p.m. - Fort Worth ISD Schools Closed Until Further Notice

Schools in Fort Worth ISD will be closed until further notice, the district announced today. Students will remain at home and receive online instruction.

“All schools will remain closed until we believe we can safely bring students back to school buildings for in-person teaching and learning and other school-related activities,” Superintendent Kent Scribner said in a statement.

The decision is in line with the city's disaster restrictions that are in place through May 15.

3:01 p.m. - Rockwall County Under Stay-At-Home Order

Rockwall County Judge David Sweet issued an order today mandating all residents stay at home in light of the coronavirus outbreak and COVID-19 begining at midnight. The order is similar to those issued by other North Texas counties. The order is in effect through April 15.

1:23 p.m. - Denton County Issues Stay-At-Home Order

Denton County has issued a stay-at-home order Tuesday. Denton County Judge Andy Eads and Mayor Chris Watts announced that new restrictions will be adopted to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Beginning Wednesday, March 25, at midnight, residents are ordered to stay at home except for essential activities and work.

12:51 p.m. - Dallas Animal Services Offering Free, Online Adoptions

Dallas Animal Services is now offering tele-adoptions, online foster orientations and curbside adoption and foster pet pick-ups.

All pets will be free to adopt until further notice. Residents can visit dallasanimalservices.org to schedule an appointment to speak with a staff member who will then help them select a pet and set a curbside pickup time.

Animal services officers will continue to answer urgent and high-priority calls, including sick or injured animals and animals that threaten the safety of others. Residents are still encouraged to call 311 for animal-related service calls.

North Texas Behavioral Heath Authority To Open Mental Health Support Line

The North Texas Behavioral Health Authority has developed a mental health support line specifically related to COVID-19. The service will provide trauma-informed support and psychological first aid to anyone experiencing stress and anxiety related to the outbreak. The service is part of the authority's crisis services and will allow for direct transfers between groups to provide care.

Those experiencing stress, anxiety, grief or worry as a result of COVID-19 can call 833-251-7544 for 24/7 care. If you need a higher level of care, the 24/7 crisis line is 866-260-8000.

10:15 a.m. - Collin County Issues Stay-At-Home Order

Collin County has issued its own order that tells people to stay home -- but businesses are allowed to stay open. That's different than a Dallas County shelter-in-place order already in effect, which only allows essential businesses to operate.

Collin County Judge Chris Hill spoke to reporters this morning.

"Essential businesses in Dallas County are open today, running according to stay safe, work safe guidelines," Hill said. "Businesses in Collin County are open today according to those same guidleines. This is a unified approach."

Tarrant County Mayors, Judge Issue Stay-At-Home Orders

Tarrant County has added its name to the growing list of Texas counties ordering residents to shelter-in-place.

Starting at midnight through April 3, residents of Tarrant County are to stay home — except for a handful of essential activities and jobs. Those include healthcare, government, specific retail operations, social services and child care.

Grocery stores will remain open. Restaurants can offer takeout, delivery or drive-through services.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price hopes to get people back to work as quickly as possible but says it's important to maintain hospital infrastructure.

"It isn't lost on us that these are incredibly hard times," Price said. "But if you're sick and we can't treat you in the hospitals, we will really be in trouble."

Price says Fort Worth law enforcement will issue warnings -- and a second offense may result in a fine.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson has updated the city's emergency regulations to match Dallas County's orders.

Monday, March 23

Collin County Mayors Lean Toward Shelter-In-Place Order

Mayors in Collin County appear to be in favor of a shelter-in-place order, according to statements posted on social media. Collin County officials have scheduled a press conference Tuesday morning.

The news comes after Dallas County’s shelter-in-place order goes into effect at midnight.

McKinney Mayor George Fuller posted a note on Facebook.

“There is consensus on adopting a form of shelter in place among the cities,” the statement says. “This consideration was not arrived at easily, as we understand the further, negative financial impact that businesses and the workforce will suffer.”

The statement adds that “in the absence of thorough local testing results, we must rely on more comprehensive data that exists in other parts of the world.” That data shows “the need to take aggressive action sooner, rather than later, especially in our urban areas.”

The statement says it’s a goal to adopt uniform policies and practices so that containment efforts are regionally consistent.

5:35 p.m.Dallas ISD Superintendent Gives Video Update

With at-home learning starting today, Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa answered some of the most frequent questions the district’s received so far via video. 

Watch his update below.

4:34 p.m. - Denton County Announces 6 New Cases

Denton County has announced six new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total for the county to 36.

3:33 p.m. - Austin Mayor To Order Shelter-In-Place Order Tuesday

A "shelter-in-place" policy will be announced for Austin-Travis County on Tuesday, Austin Mayor Steve Adler confirmed.

Read more from KUT.

2:43 p.m. - Age Restrictions Lifted At Dallas Testing Sites

Hoping to test more North Texans for COVID-19, officials have now lifted the age restriction for two drive-through testing sites in Dallas.

Officials say a person is eligible for testing if they're experiencing shortness of breath or a cough. And they must have a temperature of 99.6 degrees or higher.

Two testing sites have been set up in Dallas -- one in a parking lot next to DART’s Victory Station and another at the Ellis Davis Field House on South Polk Street. Both sites are running from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and are open to those who do not live in Dallas County. --Bekah Morr

1:09 p.m. - Texas Receives $36.9 Million From CDC For COVID-19 Response

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that the state has received its first allotment of funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- $36.9 million.

The Texas Department of State Health Services will distribute $19.5 million to 43 local health departments, including $1.75 million for Dallas and Tarrant counties and the San Antonio Metro Health District. The rest of the funds will be used by the state to support areas of the state not covered by local health departments.

12:08 p.m. - 24 New Cases Reported In Dallas County

Dallas County Health and Human Services reports 24 new cases of COVID-19 and two deaths from the virus. The new cases bring the total number in Dallas County to 155. The two new deaths are a Dallas man in his 60s, who had been critically ill in a local hospital and did not have other high-risk chronic health conditions, and another Dallas man in his 60s who had been critically ill in a local hospital and had high-risk chronic health conditions. 

11:16 a.m. - Waco Mayor Issues Shelter-In-Place Order

Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver issued a shelter-in-place order Monday, making it the first city in Texas to do so.

Waco officials are following the lead of Dallas County, which issued a similar order over the weekend. The order goes into effect by midnight Monday and prohibits Waco residents from leaving their houses except for “essential activities,” including trips to grocery stores, pharmacies or health care facilities.

All businesses deemed nonessential are expected to close. Waco residents will still be allowed to leave their homes for outdoor exercise, provided they follow social distancing measures. The Texas Tribune

9:55 a.m. - Texas Health Officials Suspend Most Visitors To State Hospitals

Texas health officials are suspending most visitors to state hospitals and state supported living centers to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Texas’ Health and Human Services Commission is temporarily suspending any nonessential visits to these facilities across the state.

HHS will allow state investigators, law enforcement, judges, attorneys and staff to continue in-person visits. Before entering facilities, those visitors would be screened for travel history and have their temperature taken.

Texas has a network of 10 state hospitals, which provide inpatient care to psychiatric patients. There are also 13 state supported living centers, which provide residential care to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.--Syeda Hasan

24th District Runoff Is Postponed

A runoff election in the race for Texas’ 24th Congressional District has been postponed. Gov. Greg Abbott has pushed the election to July 14, citing concerns about the coronavirus. 

In a crowded primary field, Democrats Candace Valenzuela and Kim Olson advanced to a runoff. Both candidates are adjusting their campaigns to accommodate social distancing – they continue to push their messages to voters online and over the phone.

Olson, who finished first in the Democratic primary, calls the postponement a “hard but smart decision.” She says voters shouldn’t have to choose between their health and democratic participation. Valenzuela is calling on state leaders to expand mail-in voting eligibility to include all registered voters. Currently, only Texans who are 65 or older, disabled, out of the county or in jail can vote by mail. The Texas Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit to expand mail-in voting eligibility.

Democrats are confident they can flip this suburban North Texas district, which has been a Republican stronghold. The winner of the Democratic runoff will face Republican Beth Van Duyne in the general election in November. -- Syeda Hasan

Sunday, March 22

Updated 8 p.m. - Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins Issues ‘Stay Safe At Home’ Order

Dallas County is ordering citizens to shelter in place. 

In an updated public health emergency order issued this afternoon, the county said to protect the community for the rapid spread of coronavirus Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins is requiring “all individuals anywhere in Dallas County to shelter in place – that is, stay at home – except for certain essential activities and work to provide essential business and government services or perform essential public infrastructure construction, including housing.”

The order takes effect at midnight, March 24 and will continue through April 3. It allows people to leave their homes to get essential items, like groceries and medications, or to do things like take outdoor walks or care for sick family members. It also requires businesses that do not perform essential services to close their facilities and have employees work from home if possible.

Read the full story from KERA's Stella Chávez.

5:15 p.m. - Abbott Issues Orders To Increase Hospital Capacity; Passes On 'Shelter-In-Place'

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Sunday he is issuing orders to increase health care and hospital capacity as COVID-19 spreads throughout the state. He said he was not, however, going to issue a "shelter-in-place" order for Texas, as many other governors have done.

Abbott is directing health care professionals to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient. He said he is also suspending regulations that prevent doctors from treating more than one patient in a room.

“Together these orders will free up countless hospital beds across the entire state of Texas to be able to treat the potential increase in COVID-19 patients,” the governor said. 

Read the full story from KUT News.

3:40 p.m. - Denton County Reports 6 Additional COVID-19 Cases

Denton County is reporting six additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the county to 30. Denton County Public Health (DCPH) is "identifying and contacting individuals who may have been exposed," according to a statement released Sunday afternoon. "Any individuals identified as having been exposed will be contacted directly by DCPH." 

Officials list 10 of the county's 30 cases as having been caused by local transmission. 

2:55 p.m. - Tarrant County Reports 5 Additional COVID-19 Cases

Tarrant County has reported five additional  COVID-19 cases bringing the total number of cases in the county to 47. One person has died from the illness in the county so far.

You can see the number of people in Tarrant County diagnosed with the illness and which cities have had positive cases here 

1:47 p.m. - Dallas County Reports 36 Additional COVID-19 Cases

Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) is reporting 36 additional positive cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the county to 131. A second death from COVID-19 has also been reported, according to a statement released by officials Sunday morning. 

The deceased was a man in his 80s who was a resident of the city of Dallas. He had been critically ill in a local hospital, and did not have other high-risk chronic health conditions, according to officials. Over 40% of patients who have been hospitalized are over 60 years of age. 

DCHHS will not release any additional information about those who have been diagnosed or have died. 

“It is our policy in Dallas County not to release the names of persons who have died from COVID-19. We leave that to the decisions of their families and loved ones,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement. “My thoughts and prayers are with this family and with all of the persons who have been suffering from COVID-19. Dallas County will do everything in their power to #flattenthecurve and give you and your family their best chance to stay safe.”

10:15 a.m. - Collin County Reports 31 COVID-19 Cases

As of 8 a.m. March 22, there have been 31 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Collin County, according to a statement released by county officials. Eight people have successfully recovered from the disease, two are hospitalized and 20 remain in home isolation.

There has been one confirmed death associated with COVID-19 in Collin County, and there are 75 people in the county being monitored for the disease.

9:45 a.m. - American Airlines Baggage Handler At DFW Tests Positive For COVID-19

The Dallas Morning News reports that an American Airlines baggage handler at DFW left work this week after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

On Friday, leaders at the airline and its regional carrier Envoy sent letters to airport employees warning them about the case and urging them to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to stay home and seek medical attention if they show symptoms, according to memos shared with The Dallas Morning News.

American spokesman Joshua Freed declined to confirm to the Morning News Saturday if any other baggage handlers had been diagnosed with coronavirus.

“The safety of our customers and team members is our top priority," Freed told the Morning News in a statement. "We are in close contact with the CDC and public health departments and are coordinating with them on all required health and safety measures.”

Read the full story from The Dallas Morning News.

Saturday, March 21

5:58 p.m. - Tarrant County Announces Tighter Restrictions, Closing Of In-Person Worship Services

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley announced tighter restrictions that will go into effect 6 p.m. on Saturday, including the closing of in-person worship services. 

“We cannot stress enough that Tarrant County residents practice social distancing where you stay at least 6 feet away from other individuals,” Whitley said. “You need to have sufficient space to have people be at least 6 feet apart. To whatever degree possible, we would encourage you to have sign-in logs to keep track of everyone you have come in contact with.”

The new restrictions will also close malls and other “non-essential retail establishments such as barber shops, hair salons, nail salons as well as spas and massage parlors.” 

Businesses deemed “essential services” like grocery stores, pharmacies and other stores selling household items will remain open. 

5:38 p.m. - Dallas County Closes Nail Salons, Limits Toilet Paper Purchases 

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins announced tighter restrictions on Saturday including the closure of personal care services like beauty and nail salons, a limit on purchases of toilet paper and the banning of public or private recreational gatherings. 

The restrictions will go into effect 11:59 p.m. Saturday until 11:59 p.m. on April 3. 

In the amended order, Jenkins said all personal care services that can’t be provided with a six foot distance must close. Personal care businesses listed in the order include: “massage parlors, nail salons, hair salons, barber shops, beauty salons, hair removal services, spas, tattoo and piercing parlors, and all other non-medical, personal care services.” 

Elective medical, surgical and dental procedures are also prohibited. 

Purchases of toilet paper will also be limited to either 12 rolls per purchase or one package per purchase, whichever is greater. The limit will be in effect “until the supply chain meets the demand” or in two weeks, whichever comes first. 

Public or private recreational events and community gatherings will also be banned. People using outdoor spaces like the Katy Trail must keep a six foot distance from each other. Officers will be stationed outside and people who are not following those rules could be ticketed. 

Jenkins also called on the business and manufacturing community to focus on making more personal protective equipment and ventilators. 

3:33 p.m. - Dallas Police Will Begin Screening 911 Callers For COVID-19

The Dallas Police Department announced it will begin asking 911 callers screening questions for COVID-19. 

“This change is intended to provide our first responders with critical safety information in order for them to take all appropriate precautionary measures,” the press release said. 

Callers will be asked the following questions: 

11:47 a.m. - Dallas County Announces 21 Additional Cases 

Dallas County Health and Human Services announced 21 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the county’s case count to 95. 

Over 40% of the county’s reported cases have no recent out-of-state travel history and no known close contact with a confirmed case, indicating community spread. 

“Community spread is accelerating rapidly but not as fast as it would without the way this community is stepping up,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said. “The responsible actions of the people of Dallas County are helping to slow the spread of the virus. That’s critical for the healthcare supply chain and vaccination work to catch up and for our healthcare system to not be overwhelmed with patients. #StayCalmStayHome #FlattenTheCurve.”

Four Cases Confirmed At Denton State Supported Living Center, Six Additional Cases In Denton County

Denton County Public Health announced four confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Denton State Supported Living Center and six additional cases in the county.  

At the living center, one confirmed case was reported in a March 20 press release and the three additional cases have since been confirmed. One patient is in their 50s and the other three residents are in their 60s. All of the patients are in hospital isolation.

There are 24 total confirmed cases in Denton County after the county announced the four cases at the living center and six additional cases on Saturday afternoon. 

The DCPH is working with the living center to follow-up on any other individuals that might have been exposed. Any individuals who are identified as being exposed will be contacted directly by DCPH.

“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our residents, the staff that work day in and day out to serve them and the local community that is such a strong supporter of the Denton State Supported Living Center,” Scott Schalchlin, the Texas Health and Human Services Associate Commissioner for State Supported Living Centers, said. 

Schalchlin said DCPH and the Department of State Health Services are taking precautions to limit the virus’ spread. 

“HHS restricted visitation to all state supported living centers and suspended community outings for residents on March 13, 2020, in addition to routinely screening staff, residents, and any essential visitors earlier this month according to CDC guidelines,” he said. 

9:48 - Second Dallas Police Officer Tests Positive For COVID-19

The Dallas Police Department announced that a second officer has tested presumptive positive for COVID-19. 

“We know that some of our officers will contract the virus,” a news release said. “DPD is prepared to address the issue with sound medical advice from our experts as well as a contingency plan to maintain operations to keep the community safe.”

The exposed officer worked out of Central Patrol. The individual’s last day at work was on March 12 and he tested positive on March 20. The officer is currently being isolated and is doing well, according to the DPD. 

One coworker who was in close contact with the officer has been quarantined. 

According to the news release, the DPD building is being cleaned and sanitized while DPD’s Chief Medical Doctor Alex Eastman is working to provide guidance to other officers who may have come in contact with the exposed officer. 

“All possible measures are being taken to protect the officers and mitigate the spread of the virus,” the news release said. 

DPD has issued 3,200 bottles of 60% or more alcohol-based sanitizer and 6,000 boxes of gloves. The department has also increased the cleaning and sanitizing measures of common areas like main entrances, restrooms and elevators. Officers have also been given commercial cleaning products for their vehicles. 

Dallas Closes City Parks, Libraries And Cultural Facilities Indefinitely 

The City of Dallas announced that libraries, neighborhood cultural centers, recreation centers, athletic fields, golf courses, tennis centers and cultural facilities like the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center will remain closed indefinitely.

All city programs at these locations will also be suspended until further notice.

The Dallas Public Library staff will answer calls and respond to emails from the public. Reserved materials can be picked up curbside from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting March 23. The deadline for all borrowed library materials has been extended to April 30 and may be extended further. Return drop boxes at libraries are now closed.

Find out more about neighborhood cultural centers like the Bath House Cultural Center, Latino Cultural Center, Oak Cliff Cultural Center and South Dallas Cultural Center here.

Social services staff from the community centers will continue to answer calls and the Senior Services Help Line can be reached at 214-670-5227.

Saturday, March 21

5:58 p.m. - Tarrant County Announces Tighter Restrictions, Closing Of In-Person Worship Services

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley announced tighter restrictions that will go into effect 6 p.m. on Saturday, including the closing of in-person worship services. 

“We cannot stress enough that Tarrant County residents practice social distancing where you stay at least 6 feet away from other individuals,” Whitley said. “You need to have sufficient space to have people be at least 6 feet apart. To whatever degree possible, we would encourage you to have sign-in logs to keep track of everyone you have come in contact with.”

The new restrictions will also close malls and other “non-essential retail establishments such as barber shops, hair salons, nail salons as well as spas and massage parlors.” 

Businesses deemed “essential services” like grocery stores, pharmacies and other stores selling household items will remain open. 

5:38 p.m. - Dallas County Closes Nail Salons, Limits Toilet Paper Purchases 

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins announced tighter restrictions on Saturday including the closure of personal care services like beauty and nail salons, a limit on purchases of toilet paper and the banning of public or private recreational gatherings. 

The restrictions will go into effect 11:59 p.m. Saturday until 11:59 p.m. on April 3. 

In the amended order, Jenkins said all personal care services that can’t be provided with a six foot distance must close. Personal care businesses listed in the order include: “massage parlors, nail salons, hair salons, barber shops, beauty salons, hair removal services, spas, tattoo and piercing parlors, and all other non-medical, personal care services.” 

Elective medical, surgical and dental procedures are also prohibited. 

Purchases of toilet paper will also be limited to either 12 rolls per purchase or one package per purchase, whichever is greater. The limit will be in effect “until the supply chain meets the demand” or in two weeks, whichever comes first. 

Public or private recreational events and community gatherings will also be banned. People using outdoor spaces like the Katy Trail must keep a six foot distance from each other. Officers will be stationed outside and people who are not following those rules could be ticketed. 

Jenkins also called on the business and manufacturing community to focus on making more personal protective equipment and ventilators. 

3:33 p.m. - Dallas Police Will Begin Screening 911 Callers For COVID-19

The Dallas Police Department announced it will begin asking 911 callers screening questions for COVID-19. 

“This change is intended to provide our first responders with critical safety information in order for them to take all appropriate precautionary measures,” the press release said. 

Callers will be asked the following questions: 

  • In the last 14 days, have you traveled to China, Iran, Italy, Japan or South Korea? 
  • In the last 14 days, have you been in close contact with anyone known to have the coronavirus? 
  • Are you experiencing any fever, cough or shortness of breath? 

11:47 a.m. - Dallas County Announces 21 Additional Cases 

Dallas County Health and Human Services announced 21 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the county’s case count to 95. 

Over 40% of the county’s reported cases have no recent out-of-state travel history and no known close contact with a confirmed case, indicating community spread. 

“Community spread is accelerating rapidly but not as fast as it would without the way this community is stepping up,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said. “The responsible actions of the people of Dallas County are helping to slow the spread of the virus. That’s critical for the healthcare supply chain and vaccination work to catch up and for our healthcare system to not be overwhelmed with patients. #StayCalmStayHome #FlattenTheCurve.”

Four Cases Confirmed At Denton State Supported Living Center, Six Additional Cases In Denton County

Denton County Public Health announced four confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Denton State Supported Living Center and six additional cases in the county.  

At the living center, one confirmed case was reported in a March 20 press release and the three additional cases have since been confirmed. One patient is in their 50s and the other three residents are in their 60s. All of the patients are in hospital isolation.

There are 24 total confirmed cases in Denton County after the county announced the four cases at the living center and six additional cases on Saturday afternoon. 

The DCPH is working with the living center to follow-up on any other individuals that might have been exposed. Any individuals who are identified as being exposed will be contacted directly by DCPH.

“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our residents, the staff that work day in and day out to serve them and the local community that is such a strong supporter of the Denton State Supported Living Center,” Scott Schalchlin, the Texas Health and Human Services Associate Commissioner for State Supported Living Centers, said. 

Schalchlin said DCPH and the Department of State Health Services are taking precautions to limit the virus’ spread. 

“HHS restricted visitation to all state supported living centers and suspended community outings for residents on March 13, 2020, in addition to routinely screening staff, residents, and any essential visitors earlier this month according to CDC guidelines,” he said. 

9:48 - Second Dallas Police Officer Tests Positive For COVID-19

The Dallas Police Department announced that a second officer has tested presumptive positive for COVID-19. 

“We know that some of our officers will contract the virus,” a news release said. “DPD is prepared to address the issue with sound medical advice from our experts as well as a contingency plan to maintain operations to keep the community safe.”

The exposed officer worked out of Central Patrol. The individual’s last day at work was on March 12 and he tested positive on March 20. The officer is currently being isolated and is doing well, according to the DPD. 

One coworker who was in close contact with the officer has been quarantined. 

According to the news release, the DPD building is being cleaned and sanitized while DPD’s Chief Medical Doctor Alex Eastman is working to provide guidance to other officers who may have come in contact with the exposed officer. 

“All possible measures are being taken to protect the officers and mitigate the spread of the virus,” the news release said. 

DPD has issued 3,200 bottles of 60% or more alcohol-based sanitizer and 6,000 boxes of gloves. The department has also increased the cleaning and sanitizing measures of common areas like main entrances, restrooms and elevators. Officers have also been given commercial cleaning products for their vehicles. 

Dallas Closes City Parks, Libraries And Cultural Facilities Indefinitely 

The City of Dallas announced that libraries, neighborhood cultural centers, recreation centers, athletic fields, golf courses, tennis centers and cultural facilities like the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center will remain closed indefinitely.

All city programs at these locations will also be suspended until further notice.

The Dallas Public Library staff will answer calls and respond to emails from the public. Reserved materials can be picked up curbside from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting March 23. The deadline for all borrowed library materials has been extended to April 30 and may be extended further. Return drop boxes at libraries are now closed.

Find out more about neighborhood cultural centers like the Bath House Cultural Center, Latino Cultural Center, Oak Cliff Cultural Center and South Dallas Cultural Center here.

Social services staff from the community centers will continue to answer calls and the Senior Services Help Line can be reached at 214-670-5227.

Friday, March 20

Dallas County To Offer Limited Drive-Through Testing

Dallas County officials say they’re opening two drive-through testing sites for COVID-19. The sites will operate this weekend, but testing is limited to certain individuals.

Saturday’s testing site is American Airlines Center at 2500 Victory Plaza in Dallas. The site opens at 8 a.m. Sunday’s testing site is at Ellis Davis Field House at 9191 S. Polk St. in Dallas. The site opens at 8 a.m.

People are eligible for testing if they have a fever of at least 99.6 degrees and are either older than 65,  a DART bus driver, a first responder or a healthcare worker, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said on Twitter. Learn more here.

7:51 p.m. - Gov. Abbott Postpones Runoff Primary Election 

Gov. Greg Abbott announced the runoff primary election will be postponed until July 14 and early voting will begin on July 6. 

The election was originally scheduled for May 26. 

“Holding the runoff in May would cause the congregation of large gatherings of people in confined spaces and cause numerous election workers to come into close proximity with others,” the statement said. “This would threaten the health and safety of many Texans.”

Plano Police Officer Tests Positive For COVID-19

A Plano police officer has tested positive for COVID-19.

Chief Ed Drain says the officer likely contracted the virus during work-related travel -- and that the officer had only been in contact with other employees, who are staying at home.

“This officer's particular job is not connected with answering calls for service or anything with witnesses,” he told reporters. “So, to the best of our knowledge, he did not come in contact with any citizens whatsoever.”

The officer does not require hospitalization at this time.

Drain also says the Plano Police Department has taken preventative measures in order to avoid the spread of coronavirus to people inside the city jail.

"We put detainees in single cells, we check their temperature when they come in -- obviously, if they are over a certain level, we take them to the hospital,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Dallas police officer tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday -- officials say the Dallas officer is doing well.

Denton County Reports 6 New Cases

Denton County is reporting six new cases of COVID-19, bringing the countywide total to 15.

Frisco and Lewisville each have four cases, and Denton has two. Aubrey, Double Oak, Justin, Little Elm and Prosper each has one case. Eleven are in home isolation, while four are in hospitals.

Dallas Mavericks Foundation Donates $500,000 For Childcare Expenses For Health Care Workers

The Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban, guard Luka Dončić and center Dwight Powell joined the Mavericks Foundation in donating $500,000 to help offset childcare costs for medical workers at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Hospital. The funds are for those workers providing care in the coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak.

“We can’t thank our healthcare workers enough for putting their patients’ well-being before their own,” said Cuban in a statement. “I am thankful to Luka and Dwight as we partner up to support healthcare workers who are doing everything they can to keep our community healthy.”

Dallas Police Department Expands Use Of Online Reporting

The Dallas Police Department announced a plan to limit exposure to the coronavirus for first responders and the public. The department is expanding the use of the Dallas Online Reporting System for several lower priority calls such as criminal mischief, graffiti, lost property and debit/credit card abuse. For a full list of reports, click here.

Effective March 19, DPD will not physically respond to these calls. Instead they ask that citizens use the online reporting system.

2 p.m. - Gov. Greg Abbott Announces Approval Of Emergency Designation For Small Business Disaster Loans

Gov. Greg Abbott announced that the U.S. Small Business Administration has included the state of Texas in its Economic Injury Disaster Declaration and granted access to its Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, which will provide long-term, low-interest loans to qualifying businesses across the state.

Gov. Abbott also announced a new public service announcement featuring Texas actor Matthew McConaughey aimed at social distancing. In the video, McConaughey says, "Over 500,000 brave Texas hospital and EMS workers are on the frontline of the coronavirus outbreak, answering the call that requires them to leave their homes," McConaughey said in the PSA. "You can answer the call too, by staying home if you can."

1:26 p.m. - Tarrant County Reports 10 New Coronavirus Cases

Tarrant County Public Health reports 10 new positive COVID-19 cases in Tarrant County. The total number of positive cases in Tarrant County now stands at 29. The new positive cases are in Arlington (4); Euless (1); Fort Worth (2); Keller (1); and Lakeside (2). Two COVID-19 cases have also recovered from the virus.

“We are interviewing these new patients, identifying places they’ve traveled to and reaching out to others who may have been exposed,“ said Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja. “Because of HIPAA laws regarding the confidentiality of health information, we are not allowed to provide any other details,” he said.

1:12 p.m.  American Airlines Cancels Flights, Ground Half Of Fleet; Southwest Ceases Operating Out Of Chicago Midway

American Airlines says it plans to cancel 55,000 flights next month and it is grounding nearly half the fleet while expecting plummeting demand for air travel to get even worse. The airline’s president, Robert Isom, detailed the moves in a letter Thursday to employees. The company has cut its international schedule for April by 75% and domestic flying by 30%, with plans to cut even more in May.

Southwest Airlines announced Friday that it has cancelled all of its fights in and out of Midway International Airport, days after federal authorities closed the airport’s control tower after technicians tested positive for the coronavirus.

“We have ceased operations at the Chicago Midway airport due to the closure of the FAA ATC tower in the Chicago area,” Southwest Airlines spokesperson Ro Hawthorne wrote in an email.

The airlines’ move resulted in more than 173 canceled flights on Friday.

The Federal Aviation Administration closed Midway’s control tower on Tuesday after the federal agency said “several” technicians tested positive for coronavirus. The FAA said in a statement that the airport remained open and operations would continue at a reduced rate until controllers and technicians have a safe working environment.

Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association, which represents around 290 airlines worldwide, on Thursday put the price tag on combined lost revenue to date at $7 billion. It will get a lot worse. The group estimates total costs worldwide could reach $113 billion. The group called for emergency aid of up to $200 billion for airlines globally.

Billy Bob’s Hosting Three-Day Blood Drive To Replenish North Texas Blood Supply

Bull riding, concerts and line dancing are still off the table at the world’s largest Honky Tonk, but Billy Bob’s Texas is hoping for strong turnout this weekend at a massive blood drive.

The City of Fort Worth gave the dance hall and concert venue permission to gather crowds — despite a citywide ban on gatherings of more than ten people — because the region's blood supplies. Carter BloodCare says the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the cancellation of more than 4,000 blood donation appointments this month. The blood bank serves 90% of hospitals in North, Central and East Texas, and says it needs a minimum of 700 successful donations in the next five days.

“We are taking extra precautions by increased cleaning of surfaces and mopping down our buses each evening. Going to a blood drive or a Carter BloodCare donation center is considered safe and necessary for our community’s health. Remember, only healthy people are there to donate blood.”

Billy Bob's blood drive will be open from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

11:07 a.m. - Dallas County Health and Human Services Releases Coronavirus Numbers

According to the Dallas County Health and Human Services, clusters of transmission of the coronavirus have been noted among those who have attended recreational group gatherings and employees in office settings.

As of March 19, Dallas County has reported 33 women and 41 men who have tested positive and most cases are in individuals 18-60 years of age. Twenty-two cases are in ages 60 and over.

Of the 74 total cases, 51 reside in Dallas, five in Irving, four each in Garland and Mesquite.

Of those testing positive, 9 have been admitted to intensive care units and 21 were hospitalized, while 53 were not hospitalized.

9:45 a.m. - Tax Day Deadline Extended To July

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced on Twitter today that the deadline for filing federal income tax has been moved to July 15.

He encourages those taxpayers who expect a refund to file now as opposed to waiting until the new July deadline.

Mnuchin's comments Friday appeared to expand guidance released by the Treasury on Thursday, which did not change the April 15 filing deadline but allowed "all individual and other non-corporate tax filers to defer up to $1 million of federal income tax" to July 15 without interest or penalties.

The previous guidance also allowed corporate taxpayers to defer up to $10 million of federal income tax payments.

7:20 a.m. - Two Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Employees Test Positive For COVID-19

According to documents released by the Texas Department of Public Safety, two employees have tested positive for COVID-19. One employee worked at the Carrollton driver license office, and the other did recruiting in an office in Belton.

“Public safety is our number one concern, and the department will work in conjunction with public health authorities to provide any additional information necessary to notify the public of these positive cases,” the department said in a statement. “DPS continues to follow guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

YMCA Offers Emergency Child Care

YMCAs in Dallas County have been given approval by county Health and Human services to offer limited childcare to those who work as first responders, medical professionals, government officials, grocery workers and pharmacy workers. 

The child care services are strictly limited to parents who must have it because of their line of work and the organization will screen children in their care, according to their website.

“The health of all is not only a top priority, but it’s part of our mission,” their website says. “We will do temperature screenings prior to entry and after lunch.”

The program will begin March 23 and is scheduled to run each weekday through the end of April.  

Thursday, March 19

Dallas Police Officer Tests Positive For COVID-19

A Dallas police officer working out of the Northeast Patrol tested positive for the coronavirus today.

The officer is isolated and is currently doing well, according to an emailed report from the Dallas Police Department.

Three coworkers who were in close contact with the officer are quarantined as a precaution.

"We are working with the Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services on any other necessary steps that may need to be taken," the email notice said. "In the meantime, one of the city’s contractors has been notified and began sanitizing" the Northeast Patrol building.

Dallas PD's chief medical officer, Alex Eastman, is giving guidance to officers who might have come in contact with the officer who tested positive.

The email said that cleaning protocols, especially in common areas like main entrances and elevators, have been increased. Officers also have been given sanitizing products for their vehicles.

"We know that some of our officers will contract the virus," the report said. "DPD is prepared to address the issue with sound medical advice from our experts as well as a contingency plan to maintain operations to keep the community safe."  

Denton County Reports More Cases, Including Local Transmission

Denton County has confirmed four new cases of COVID-19. This increases the countywide total to nine cases.

The latest cases include a Lewisville woman in her 50s who’s been hospitalized; her case is one of community transmission.

The other new cases are a Denton man in his 60s, a Frisco man in his 40s and a Lewisville woman in her 20s. All three of those cases involve travel-related exposure; all three are at their homes.

Meanwhile, Dallas County has reported a total of 55 cases of COVID-19; Tarrant County has reported 19 cases.

More Colleges Move To Online-Only Classes

Texas Christian University is moving to online-only classes through the rest of the spring semester. The Fort Worth college had extended its spring break through the rest of this week amid uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic.

TCU joins a number of other schools in forgoing in-classroom instruction, including Paul Quinn College, Texas Wesleyan University, University of North Texas, UT-Arlington and UT-Dallas. Other area colleges have temporarily moved instruction online, and plan to re-assess whether classroom instruction should resume later.

No decisions have been made about commencement at TCU, according to a letter from the school’s chancellor posted online Thursday.

Tarrant County Public Health Confirms 10 New Positive Cases

Tarrant County Public Health reported 10 new positive COVID-19 cases in Tarrant County Thursday. That brings the total number of positive cases in the county to 19, including an Arlington man who died Sunday.

Patrick James was an elderly man who lived in a cottage at the Texas Masonic Retirement Home in Arlington. James had no travel or yet-known contact with other COVID-19 cases.

Officials say they are still investigating the methods of transmission, but it is known that some of the cases are travel-related.

"We are interviewing these patients, identifying places they’ve traveled to and reaching out to others who may have been exposed," said Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja.

Here's the latest breakdown of the numbers and cities (updated to reflect corrected numbers from the county):

• Fort Worth, 5
• Arlington, 5
• Southlake, 2
• North Richland Hills, 2
• 1 each in Benbrook, Colleyville, Mansfield, Watauga and White Settlement

Gov. Abbott Bans Groups Of 10 Or More; Closes Bars, Dine-In Restaurants

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday took sweeping action to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus across Texas, issuing an executive order that will close restaurants and schools, among other things.

During a news conference at the state Capitol, Abbott announced an executive order that will limit social gatherings to 10 people, prohibit eating and drinking at restaurants and bars while still allowing takeout, close gyms, ban people from visiting nursing homes except for critical care and temporarily close schools. The executive order is effective midnight Friday through midnight April 3, Abbott said.

"We are doing this now today so we can get back to business as usual more quickly," Abbott said.

Fort Worth ISD Asks Students To Reset Passwords

As the Fort Worth school district launches distance learning due to the coronavirus outbreak, it's asking students to reset their online district passwords.

A one-page information sheet guides users through the process step-by-step. It’s online here.

The district says resetting the password will take about 10 minutes but it will help assure security. But users must change the password on a different device than the school district Chrome books. The device can be a desktop computer, another laptop, a smartphone or an iPad. After the password’s reset, users can again access their district-issued Chromebook.

The district’s help desk is 817-814-8378.

Collin County Confirms 18 Positive Cases of COVID-19

Increasing from 13 cases on Wednesday, Collin County had 18 confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, according to a daily report from the county.

So far there has been one death, a 64-year-old man in Plano who died in a hospital Tuesday -- he had an underlying medical condition. His positive case was discovered posthumously.

There are currently 74 people under monitoring in Collin County.

Dallas County Reports 20 More Positive COVID-19 Cases

Dallas County's reporting 20 additional positive cases of COVID-19, including one death. The 20 new cases brings the total count in Dallas County to 55.

A man in his 60s died in Richardson. He was found dead in his residence and the county says he did not have a high-risk chronic medical condition. 

The medical examiner's office reports that the newly-reported cases include six men and two women in their 30s; two men and two women in their 50s; wo men and three women in their 60s; one woman in her 70s; and one woman in her 90s.

Three people were hospitalized, including one in critical care, and 16 are self-isolating at residences.

Geographic information on the cases:

• Twelve are residents of the city of Dallas
• 3 are residents of Garland
• 2 are residents of Mesquite
• 1 is a resident of Cedar Hill
• 1 is a resident of Farmers Branch

Also, the county says five cases are related to domestic out-of-state travel and two are related to international travel. Three patients are close contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case.

However, six people have no source or travel risk factor yet identified, which indicates community transmission. Four other cases are still under investigation.

See the press release (PDF).

Frisco Amends Its Guidelines Following Governor's Declaration 

Mayor Jeff Cheney issued a statement Wednesday saying the Frisco City Council wouldn't take action to close restaurants, bars "or any other business, for that matter" as the coronavirus outbreak continues in North Texas.

He said the city's medical director Dr. Mark Gamber said restaurants do not pose any greater risk than grocery or other retail stores.

"We are taking a very measured approach where we process information from all perspectives," Cheney said Wednesday.

But on Thursday, when Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statewide executive order that bans social gatherings larger than 10 people, Cheney amended Frisco's public health emergency declaration.  

The mayor's statement on Wednesday encouraged residents to practice social distancing and other personal measures, such as hand-washing, cleaning surfaces and self-isolating if sick. The statement also suggested businesses "create an environment where people can feel safe."

"We do not pretend to have all the answers but we are working around the clock to listen to our residents, as well as the people we trust to advise you," Cheney said Wednesday. "Our response could change at any point based on new information."

The mayor declared a local state of disaster for public health emergency on Monday, along with other North Texas cities.

Read the mayor's full statement.

This entry has been updated to reflect the city amending its declaration following the governor's executive order.

Gov. Abbott To Participate In Statewide TV Town Hall At 7 p.m.

Governor Greg Abbott will join four other state officials Thursday at 7 p.m. for a live virtual town hall. He's expected to discuss the statewide response to the coronavirus outbreak.

A TV broadcast and streaming video — virtual — town hall format was chosen because of the restrictions on large gatherings. The town hall will be staged at KXAN-TV in Austin.

North Texans can watch the town hall on KDAF-TV CW Channel 33, or watch a live stream on the station's website. View other ways to watch here.

Gov. Abbott will be joined by the following officials:

• John Hellerstedt, Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner
• Nim Kidd, Chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management
• Imelda Garcia, Associate Commissioner of Laboratory and Infectious Disease Services at the Texas Department of State Health Services
• Mike Morath, Texas Education Agency Commissioner

Viewers can submit questions for the town hall on social media using the hashtag #AskAbbott. (View questions already submitted on Facebook and on Twitter.) A few examples of questions from Twitter:

Gov. Abbott To Allow Alcohol Delivery

Gov. Greg Abbott is hoping to help restaurants mitigate the economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing them to deliver alcoholic drinks. Wednesday Abbott issued a waiver that will allow restaurants to deliver beer, wine and mixed drinks with food purchases. 

Abbott also directed the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to waive certain regulations to allow alcohol manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to repurchase or sell back unopened products.

"The State of Texas is committed to supporting retailers, restaurants, and their employees," Abbott said in a statement. "These waivers will allow restaurants to provide enhanced delivery options to consumers during this temporary period of social distancing."

Gov, Abbott Announces Temporary Closure Of Driver License Offices

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday that Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Driver License Offices across the state are closing immediately. The announcement follows Abbott’s order to delay the expiration date for driver licenses, commercial driver licenses and other forms of ID. 

In a statement, the governor’s office said the temporary closure will not affect those applying for a Commercial Driver License (CDL) for the first time. The reason for the exception is to allow commercial drivers to continue to ship goods across Texas.

"Our commercial drivers are essential to the consistent flow of goods throughout the state, and we will continue to ensure those seeking an initial CDL can do so," Abbott said. "Closing driver license offices to those not seeking an initial CDL is another step the state is taking to encourage social distancing in our communities." 

Though expiration dates have been temporarily suspended, if you need to renew your license or personal identification certificate you should check the DPS website to see if you are eligible to renew online.

Wednesday, March 18

6:04 p.m. - Dallas Municipal Court Shuts Down In-Person Services

The City of Dallas Municipal Court’s in-person services will shut down starting Thursday until further notice. 

All trials, hearings and jury duty will be rescheduled. Those with scheduled appearances will be notified by mail with a new date and time. 

Defendants are encouraged to resolve their citations using these methods:

  • Online: Visit tickets.dallascityhall.com to make payments, schedule a court date or apply for a court program.
  • Phone: Call 214-670-0109 to pay by phone.
  • Mail: Send payments (personal checks or money orders), court date requests or documentation to 2014 Main Street, Dallas, TX, 75201.

5:08 p.m. - Dallas County Judge Tightens Restrictions, Bans Social Groups Of 10 Or More 

Dallas County is enforcing a stricter ban on social gatherings and it’s among the strictest in the state.

Judge Clay Jenkins said Wednesday night that so-called recreational gatherings, such as a backyard party or pickup basketball game would be limited to no more than 10 people.

The new restriction will begin 11:59 p.m. Wednesday and continue through at least 11 a.m. on Friday.

Community gatherings, such as weddings, funerals or religious services, will continue to be limited to 50 or fewer people.

But Jenkins said the county is loosening its restrictions on delivery trucks.

“This is trucks going to the warehouse and trucks coming through your neighborhood to go to the grocery store," he said. "Those trucks will be running at any hour to keep our stores and hospitals stocked.” 

Another change: Evictions will be suspended for the next 60 days.

More: Dallas County Expands Coronavirus Response

4:41 p.m. - Head Start Of Greater Dallas Closes Indefinitely

To help keep the coronavirus from spreading, Head Start of Greater Dallas has decided to close indefinitely its more than 40 centers.

More than 2,600 children up to the age of 5 and over 2,800 families are served by the agency – most of them are at or below the federal poverty guidelines.

Head Start provides child care, mental health and social services, meals and assistance to prepare kids for Kindergarten. 

Dione Banks, Head Start’s director of community development, said the organization is looking for ways to continue their work.

“We do know that the impact is great on the community right now,” Banks said. “We are currently assessing our operations on how to assist in specific areas for our families and provide them with additional resources.”

Head Start students are currently on spring break. Banks said staff would provide families with information about distance learning and be available to help virtually.

4:07 p.m. - Gov. Abbott, TEA Announce Texas Students MealFinder Map

Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced on Wednesday its collaboration with local education agencies to create the Texas Students MealFinder Map, which will help parents find local facilities serving meals. 

The online map will launch on Friday, March 20 and be available on the TEA website. It will include the time and location where meals will be served.

"I am grateful for our local education agencies' commitment to their students by providing meals to families as our schools remain temporarily closed," Abbott said. "The State of Texas urges our local partners to complete this application through the Texas Department of Agriculture to ensure accurate, up-to-date information is available for Texas families."

Schools and local education agencies that want to be included on the map can fill out an application on the Texas Department of Agriculture’s website. The map will be updated as more meal sites are added. 

Schools can request guidance on how to fill out the application by emailing: SquareMeals@TexasAgriculture.gov.

3:47 p.m. - Fort Worth Mayor Closes Bars, Restaurants 

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price announced an updated emergency declaration which includes the banning of gatherings of 50 people or more and the closing of dine-in restaurants, bars, theaters and gyms. 

The new restrictions will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 19:

  • Prohibits gatherings of more than 50 people in a single space, at the same time
  • Closes dine-in service at restaurants, micro-breweries, micro-distilleries, and wineries, but allow take-out, drive-in, drive-through, or delivery services to continue
  • Closes all bars, lounges, taverns, private clubs, theaters, gyms, and other amusement businesses
  • Limits total occupancy to 125 people or 50% of the capacity on the certificate of occupancy, whichever is less

The occupancy limit applies to: 

  • Event Centers
  • Hotel Meeting Spaces and Ballrooms
  • Retail Sales and Services
  • Convenience Stores
  • Plazas
  • Places of Worship
  • Common areas in Malls
  • Each Individual Business in Malls

The occupancy limit does not apply to:

  • Grocery Stores
  • Government Facilities
  • Residential Buildings
  • Medical Facilities
  • Daycares
  • Homeless or Emergency Shelters
  • Non-profit service providers
  • Airports or other critical infrastructure such as transit facilities
  • Manufacturing and Industrial Locations
  • Office Buildings

Visit Fort Worth has compiled a list of restaurants that are offering drive-through, take-out and delivery service.

2 p.m. — Gov. Greg Abbott Announces New Testing Capacity, Hospital Preparations, First Tarrant County Death

Governor Greg Abbott announced in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon that hospitals across the state are preparing for a rise in cases and that there will be an increase in statewide testing capacity for COVID-19.

“Our testing capabilities have increased dramatically,” Abbott said.

He said the state will be able to administer 15,0000 to 20,000 tests per week by the end of the week. Abbott also said he has been in talks with the CEOs of leading hospitals across the state.

“I was impressed with the number of beds that already exist and the secondary strategies,” he said. Abbott said he was told those secondary strategies include medical tents that can be set up in a day.

Additionally, he said the state could use recently closed hospitals, quick clinics, standalone ERs and other pop-up facilities if needed, which "are equipped to handle this."

He also said standalone motels or hotels could be used for individuals who test positive, but are not in critical condition.

Abbott said there are currently 83 confirmed cases across 23 counties, three deaths and more than 1,900 people who are being monitored for possibly being infected with COVID-19.

“As we see the spread of this across the state of Texas, it is absolutely essential every leader must employ the standards that have been established by the CDC to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus."

Abbot also announced Tarrant County's first death due to the virus.

Patrick James was an elderly man who lived in a cottage at the Texas Masonic Retirement Home  in Arlington with his wife. They participated in activities at the cafeteria of the main facility.

James was hospitalized on Thursday, March 12 and died early March 16. The positive tests results were obtained Tuesday, March 17.

He had no known travel or contact with other COVID-19 cases.

1 p.m. — Collin County Reports First COVID-19 Related Death 

Collin County health officials announced a 64-year-old man in Plano died in a hospital yesterday from an underlying medical condition and was infected with COVID-19. 

The positive case was discovered posthumously and the man was not one of the nine confirmed cases previously announced. 

At this time, there are nine confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in Collin County and 66 people are being monitored.

12:17 p.m. - Tarrant County Announces New Cases

Tarrant County Public Health announced on Wednesday two additional cases of COVID-19. 

One of the patients traveled out of the state and the travel history of the other patient is still pending. 

“Both of these cases have been isolated at home after developing symptoms,” Vinny Taneja, Tarrant County Public Health Director, said in a statement.

12:13 p.m. - Fort Worth ISD Launches Learning At Home 

The Fort Worth ISD announced students will now have access to content and grade-appropriate online materials for learning at home. 

“These are challenging times for us all. Students, although you are not in school right now, you remain our number-one priority,” Jerry Moore, FWISD’s chief academic officer, wrote in a March 18 letter to families and students. “We encourage students and parents to explore the materials we’ve provided.”

The school district launched its Learning at Home webpage on Wednesday with elementary and secondary resources. Fort Worth ISD plans to share a more detailed curriculum in the future. 

» RELATED | Browse the KERA Learn toolkit for helping keep kids educated and engaged at home during the coronavirus outbreak

11:20 a.m. - Gov. Abbott Issues Proclamation Allowing For Postponement Of May Local Elections

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation Wednesday allowing local governments to postpone their May 2, 2020 elections until November 3, 2020. 

"I strongly encourage local election officials to take advantage of these waivers and postpone their elections until November," Abbott said in a statement. "Right now, the state's focus is responding to COVID-19 — including social distancing and avoiding large gatherings. By delaying this election, our local election officials can assist in that effort." 

In conjunction with suspending parts of the election code to allow for the delay, Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs has released guidance for local governments on the process of postponing their May elections. 

Read the Governor's proclamation.

10:40 a.m. - Dallas County Reports 11 Additional Positive COVID-19 Cases

Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) is reporting 11 additional positive cases of novel coronavirus in the county.

“We will get through this North Texas by following the science and exercising personal responsibility,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement. “You should limit unnecessary trips beyond work and necessities like food and medical care. Every interaction in this outbreak carries some risk of spread. This doesn’t mean you can’t go for walks or runs outside; however, you should maintain six feet social distancing.”

According to a statement from officials, the 11 cases include:

  • One individual in their teens, one female in her 20s, one male and one female in their 30s, one male in his 40s, three males and two females in their 50s, and one male in his 70s.
  •  Three patients were hospitalized, including one in a critical care unit; eight are self-isolating at residences.
  • Seven are residents of the city of Dallas, one is a resident of Coppell, one is a resident of Irving, one is a resident of Mesquite, and one is a resident of Richardson.
  •  One case is related to domestic out-of-state travel and two are related to international travel.
  •  Three patients are close contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case.
  • Five have no source or travel risk factor yet identified, and are therefore indicative of community transmission.
  • Cases without a source or travel risk factor yet identified (indicating community transmission instead) have been reported from residents of the city of Dallas and Mesquite. Note that these individuals could have acquired the infection in a different city, such as where they work or socialize.

Dallas County has now reported 39 presumptive positive cases. Four of those cases are out of county residents and will not be reflected in the case counts on the DCHHS website.

8:45 a.m. - Dallas Holding Special City Coucil Meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday

Dallas is holding a special COVID-19 City Council meeting at 9 a.m. In a tweet, Mayor Eric Johnson’s office asked that citizens watch the meeting on TV or online instead of showing up in person to maintain social distancing.

You can watch the meeting on Spectrum Cable channel 95 or online at DallasCityNews.Net/Watch-Live.

7:30 a.m. - Abbott To Hold Joint Press Conference In Arlington With Mayor, Tarrant County Judge 

Gov. Greg Abbott will hold a press conference today at noon in Arlington. He’ll be joined by Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams, Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley, Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt and Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd.

Abbott’s office said social distancing protocols will be enforced, and everyone will be screened before entering the facility.

Gov. Abbott Waives Some Telemedicine Regulations

Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott waived certain regulations and instituted an emergency rule that will allow COVID-19 related telemedicine visits for patients with state-regulated plans to be paid in the same way as in-office visits for insurance purposes. 

“As the State of Texas responds to COVID-19, we continue to work to maintain regular health care services and operations throughout the state, and telemedicine is one of the most valuable tools we have to ensure Texans continue to receive the health services they need,” Abbott said in a statement. “Expanding telemedicine options will help protect the health of patients and health care professionals, while helping Texas mitigate the spread of COVID-19.” 

According to the statement, doctors will be eligible for payment from insurance plans regulated by the Texas Department of Insurance for medical visits conducted over the phone instead of in-person at the same rate they would receive for in-person visits. 

Mayor Eric Johnson Creates Two Committees To Address COVID-19 Recovery Efforts

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson has created two new committees that will recommend strategies to help the city mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and recover from effects of the disease's spread.

He announced Wednesday the creation of the Ad Hoc Committee on COVID-19 Economic Recovery and Assistance and the Ad Hoc Committee on COVID-19 Human and Social Recovery and Assistance.

“As policymakers, we must rise to meet the unprecedented challenges presented by COVID-19’s spread,” Johnson said in a statement. “These committees will enable the Dallas City Council to consider concrete steps that will help mitigate any negative effects of our painful but necessary emergency measures on our economy and our society. Additionally, our City Councilmembers will work through these committees to start preparing now for Dallas’ recovery.”

Each committee will have seven members and two co-chairs.

Tuesday, March 17

Tarrant County Announces Its First COVID-19 Death 

A Tarrant County senior citizen who died Sunday tested positive for COVID-19, health officials said.

Tarrant County Public Health says the person was a resident of the Texas Masonic Retirement Center in Arlington.

“Information about the person’s residence is being released because the facility provides housing to retired persons and senior citizens who are most vulnerable to the effects of severe illnesses,” a county news release said.

Tarrant County is investigating the source of the infection and determining who might have come into contact with the patient while he was ill. 

Fort Worth To Impose Stricter Social Distancing Rules

In Fort Worth, restaurants and bars will no longer be serving dine-in customers.

Mayor Betsy Price says that on Wednesday, bars and restaurants will only be allowed to fill takeout or delivery orders. That follows stricter social distancing protocols announced Monday for public places.

In a Facebook video, Price stressed that people should limit trips to shops, malls and any other public places, and maintain a six-foot distance from others when venturing out.

“I was at the grocery store today and I was doing pickup,” Price said. “I ordered my groceries online and picked them up today, but I was shocked by how many people were going in and out for just one or two items, but particularly the elderly folks.”

Price urged people to offer to do grocery shopping for older neighbors and people with compromised immune systems, who are at increased risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19.

Dallas ISD Student Tests Positive For COVID-19

The Dallas school district said it has its first confirmed case of COVID-19 — a middle school student. 

The student, who attends J.L. Long Middle School, was seen by the school nurse Friday and sent home. The district said the student is at home and is "doing well." The student did not have symptoms prior to Friday, Dallas ISD said.

Dallas County health officials told the district they've "determined the student did not get sick at school" and attended two classes before visiting the nurse. Health officials were working to trace the people the student was in contact with that day. 

A letter went out to the middle school community to inform them of the matter.

Dallas County Judge Urges Governor To Impose Statewide Ban

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins is urging Gov. Greg Abbott to implement a statewide ban similar to Dallas' on gyms, bars, restaurants and theaters.

Jenkins talked with WFAA-TV.

“I mean this with the utmost respect. There are no easy decisions left in this fight, but this is a decision he’s uniquely in a place to lead on and we need him to do it," Jenkins told WFAA.

Dallas County says of the nine additional cases of COVID-19 announced Tuesday, three of the patients have been hosptalized and were in critical condition. And some of the new cases are people in their 20s and 30s. 

“This disease is nothing to play with no matter what your age is,” Jenkins told the TV station.

Dallas ISD Announces Employees Will Receive Regular Pay, School Locations For Meals

The Dallas school district announced on Tuesday that all of its active employees will receive their regular paychecks “with no deductions on their paid time off” during school closures.

The district also announced the cancellation of all bond community meetings and bond-related events the week of March 23. 

According to the news release, comprehensive middle school and high schools will provide grab-and-go meals on Monday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at school entrances. 

On Monday and Thursday, students will be provided with three days of breakfast and lunch. 

All students qualify, but must accompany parents to pick up meals. Families can pick up meals from their cars at most locations.

Here is the list of school locations where meals will be provided.  

Over Spring Break, all students through age 18 are also being offered grab-and-go meals at 20 Dallas ISD schools.  

5:20 p.m. - City Of Dallas Closes Playgrounds, Golf Courses and Tennis Courts

The city of Dallas announced that it would close down playgrounds, golf courses and tennis centers “out of an abundance of caution” starting Tuesday at 9 p.m. 

Open air parks and trails will remain open, though the city advises citizens to practice social distancing. 

4:29 p.m. - Charter School Closes

ILTexas, a local public charter school with many campuses in North Texas, announces it is closing all 19 campuses indefinitely to mitigate COVID-19. According to the superintendent Eddie Conger, students will not be returning to campuses. Instead, the district will be offering virtual classrooms and online learning.  

3:49 p.m. - Denton County, East Texas Announce New Cases

Denton County Public Health announced on Tuesday a second positive case of COVID-19.

The patient is in her 50s and resides in Prosper, where she is currently in home isolation. She recently traveled, according to a press release. 

“This morning’s newest disaster declaration and executive order provide recommendations to limit the spread of disease,” Denton County Judge Andy Eads said in a statement. “Even more so now, with a second positive case within Denton County, we stress the importance of heeding these recommendations.”

In East Texas, Smith County announced its fifth confirmed case of coronavirus on Tuesday. The patient had direct exposure to a known case in the county, according to the Northeast Texas Public Health District

3:03 p.m. - Dallas County Officials Work To Open Two New Testing Sites 

Elected officials in North Texas said on Tuesday that they are working to open sites so residents can be tested for COVID-19.

In a telephone town hall held Tuesday morning, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said they plan to open a site at the American Airlines Center in Dallas and one in Grand Prairie.

"They'll have the capacity to test 2,500 people at each test site per week, so 5,000 tests a week, that will be focused on people with underlying conditions, and over 65,” he said. “But we need the federal government to release the tests to us, and to work with us on that.” 

Democratic Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who represents Dallas, took part in the town hall. 

"This country was late in getting instructions from the leadership of the nation,” Johnson said. “Many of the research areas that could have been put into action right away had been dismantled by the lack of funding, that's all revved up now and we're trying to get as much information as we can.” 

Both the city of Dallas and Dallas County are prohibiting gatherings of 50 people or more. Bars, nightclubs, entertainment venues, restaurants and gyms are closed to the public. Restaurants can offer take-out, delivery and drive-through service. 

Cedar Hill ISD Approves Pay For All District Employees 

The Cedar Hill ISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved pay for all 900 plus of the district’s employees while schools are indefinitely closed. 

“I applaud the Board for approving this resolution,” Dr. Gerald Hudson, Cedar Hill ISD superintendent, said. “This will allow us to ensure all of our employees receive a paycheck to take care of their families.”

Cedar Hill ISD Board President Cheryl Wesley said the decision was a simple one made with the District’s employees’ well-being in mind.

“With the Coronavirus Pandemic affecting our employees in several ways, the resolution that the Board approved tonight ensures that this is one less concern that our teachers and staff need to have during this time,” she said.

2:17 p.m. - Tarrant County Commissioners Extend Emergency Declaration 

At an emergency meeting on Tuesday, Tarrant County Commissioners extended the emergency declaration of disaster for an additional 90 days.

The county reported its sixth case of COVID-19 on Tuesday morning, which is also its first case of local transmission.

Public health director Vinny Taneja said recent measures being enacted like limiting the size of public gatherings are precautionary rather than reactionary.

"We have to really be methodical and thoughtful,” Taneja said. “You don't just react to the situation, you think it through and make the right decisions for your community." 

He urged North Texans to follow guidance from public health officials and continue social distancing.

12:37 p.m. - Gov. Abbott Activates The Texas National Guard 

Governor Greg Abbott activated the Texas National Guard on Tuesday to assist with the state’s coronavirus response. 

Healthcare workers and first responders who are members of the Texas National Guard will be excluded from the activation so that they continue working in their respective fields.

"By activating the Texas National Guard, we are ensuring Texas is prepared as we continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Gov. Abbott said in a statement. "I am grateful to the men and women of the National Guard for their dedication to serving their fellow Texans, and want to assure the public that this is a precautionary measure to make sure the Texas National Guard has the capability to serve at a moment's notice where they are needed most."

McKinney Updates Disaster Declaration For Restaurants 

The city of McKinney updated its local disaster declaration for restaurants. 

From today until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, all restaurants and bars must limit dine-in customers to 50% of the capacity allowed under the Certificate of Occupancy. Restaurants will also be required to provide a space of at least six feet between dining parties. 

All dine-in service restaurants and bars must be closed from March 20 until 11:59 p.m. on March 23. On March 24, the McKinney City Council will then be asked to continue restrictions until March 31. 

12:30 p.m. - TxDOT Takes Precautions Amid The Coronavirus 

The Texas Department of Public Transportation announced on Tuesday that it is taking steps to protect the public and TxDOT employees from the coronavirus, including canceling in-person gatherings, requiring in-office employees to work from home and closing down information centers. 

TxDOT announced it is postponing or canceling in-person public hearings and gatherings until April 3, excluding the Texas Transportation Commission meeting on March 26 that will be addressed separately. TxDOT said in a statement that it will look to offer virtual options for public input in the future. 

All office-based TxDOT employees are being required to work from home starting March 16.

The department also announced the closing of its 12 Travel Information Centers, although outside restrooms will remain open and be cleaned between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Highway safety rest areas through the state will also remain open for drivers. 

TxDOT has also begun to share safety messages on digital highway signs across Texas to encourage drivers to take precautions against the coronavirus.

Travelers can reach center counselors about road conditions or travel information from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 1-800-452-9292 or visit drivetexas.org to obtain road condition information 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Visit the Texas Department of State Health Services’ COVID-19 website for the most up to date information and guidance from state health officials.

11:40 a.m. - Dallas County Announces Nine Additional COVID-19 Cases

Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) is reporting nine additional positive cases of COVID-19 in the county.  Five of the cases involve people who may have contracted it locally.

“As we have warned you, the testing data is well behind the situation on the ground. Today, we have five new cases of likely community spread,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement. “It is imperative that you exercise sound decision making in your personal responsibility decisions.”

With the new cases, the county's now reported 28 presumptive positive cases.

In a statement, DCHHS said the nine new cases include: 

-Two women in their 20s, one man in his 30s, one man and one woman in their 40s, two women in their 50s, one man in his 60s and one woman in her 70s.

-Five patients are hospitalized, including 3 in critical care units; 4 are self-isolating at residences.

-Eight cases are residents of the city of Dallas and one is a resident of the city of Irving.

-One case is related to international travel.

-Three patients are close contacts of a confirmed COVID case.

-Five have no source or travel risk factor yet identified, and are therefore likely from local community spread. 

Texas Reports 1st Coronavirus Death

A man who tested positive for COVID-19 has died, becoming Texas’ first coronavirus-related death, officials said late Monday while also confirming a second case.

The Matagorda County Emergency Operation Center said in a news release that a male patient in his late 90s died Sunday evening at Matagorda Regional Medical Center with symptoms consistent with the virus. The patient was a resident of the county.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the family,” the statement said.

The Houston Department of Health and Human Services notified hospital officials of a positive COVID-19 test result at 6:15pm on Monday, the release said.

Officials said the state has launched an extensive investigation into this second positive case, informing the Matagorda County Hospital District that evidence exists of a possible community link to the earlier positive case in Matagorda County.

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

Tarrant County Reports First Local COVID-19 Transmission

Tarrant County has announced its sixth positive case of COVID-19 – and the county’s first presumed local transmission.

Tarrant County Public Health says the Grand Prairie resident contracted the virus in Tarrant County. The resident had no recent travel history and had no known exposure to a confirmed case. The person is staying at home.

Public health officials remind people to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; cover coughs or sneezes with tissues or your sleeve.

Gov. Abbott Postpones Special Texas Senate Election 

The election for the Austin area's Texas Senate District 14 to replace retiring state Sen. Kirk Watson, an Austin Democrat leaving office at the end of April, has been moved to July 14, Gov. Greg Abbott  has announced. It was originally secheduled for May 2.

Abbott's office said postponing the election "is another step the state is taking to protect health and mitigate the spread of COVID-19," noting that it was consulting with the Texas Secretary of State's office "on additional strategies to ensure public health in relation to any upcoming election."

It's unclear whether additional action will be taken to delay municipal elections across the state, which are also slated for May 2.

Read the full story from The Texas Tribune.

More School Districts Close Indefinitely

More North Texas school districts are extending their closures.

Cedar Hill ISD Superintendent Gerald Hudson announced Monday that the district will be closed indefinitely due to COVID-19.

“The safety of our scholars and staff are of the utmost importance during this challenging time,” Hudson said. “We will continue to work closely with federal, state and local officials as we continue to assess and reassess the situation.”

DeSoto ISD is also closing.

"While our classrooms are empty, our work on behalf of children continues," the district said in a statement. "We have activated at-home learning, our teachers are prepared to begin distance instruction, and Chartwells, DeSoto ISD Food and Child Nutrition Services provider, will distribute meals at select campus locations. These sites will become central locations for family and student resource distribution in the coming weeks." 

The districts join others, including Dallas and Richardson ISD, that are closing indefinitely. Highland Park ISD says it will close schools indefinitely and plans to reassess by April 5. Garland ISD says it will remain closed through April 3.

Uplift Education's free public charter schools in North Texas are also closing. The school said in a statement they're offering breakfast and lunch pick up at five locations, and have campus social counselors available to support students. 

Fort Worth ISD Adds Meal Pick Up Locations And Will Serve Breakfast for Children 

Fort Worth ISD is now providing meals at Como Montessori School and Polytechnic High School in addition to the eight original school locations they announced would provide meals Friday. Lunch at Como Montessori will begin on Wednesday. Lunch at Poly High will begin on Tuesday. 

Breakfast will be served at all locations beginning Wednesday, but the district said in a statement that breakfast is intended for consumption the following morning. 

Parents can't pickup meals without their children being present, but unaccompanied hildren will be issued meals.

Here are all the locations providing meals and their hours: 

>>Springdale Elementary School - 3207 Hollis St. Fort Worth - 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

>>Manual Jara Elementary School - 2100 Lincoln Ave., Fort Worth - Noon to 1:30 p.m.

>>Western Hills Elementary School - 2805Laedo Dr., Fort Worth - 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

>>Hubbard Heights Elementary School - 1333 W. Spurgeon St., Fort Worth - Noon to 1:30 p.m.

>>Paul L. Dunbar High School - 5700 Ramey Ave., Fort Worth - 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

>>Eastern Hills High School - 5701 Shelton St., Fort Worth - Noon to 1:30 p.m.

>>Clifford Davis Elementary School - 4300 Campus Dr. Fort Worth - 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

>>De Zavala Elementary School - 1419 College Ave, Fort Worth - Noon to 1:30 p.m.

>>Como Montessori School - 4001 Littlepage, Fort Worth - 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

>>Polytechnic High School - 1300 Conner Ave., Fort Worth - Noon to 1:30 p.m.  

Monday, March 16

7:25 p.m.: — Fort Worth Tightens Social Distancing Measures

The city of Fort Worth is tightening social distancing measures. Starting at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, most public places in the city will be limited to half of the maximum occupancy of the venue -- and no more than 125 people will be allowed to gather in one place.

The rules apply to restaurants, bars and coffee shops, as well as plazas, event centers and public buildings. Also included: gyms, theaters, houses of worship, malls and shopping centers. The rules apply to convenience and retail stores, but not to grocery stores.

Fort Worth health director Brandon Bennett discussed the rules on a Facebook video.

“We are doing these measures to protect our residents from both illness and from loss of life,” he said. “These are not draconian; these are very reasonable things that we see happening across the nation.”

The declaration authorizes all lawfully available enforcement tools be used to make sure the new limits are being followed.

6:05 p.m. — Dallas and Richardson ISD To Close Indefinitely

Dallas and Richardson ISD have announced they will close indefinitely. The Dallas district said it is "activating at-home learning" and will continue providing meals at select schools.

Richardson ISD announced students will be able to continue lessons at home via school-issued devices starting on Wednesday, March 25. 

The Richardson district is still working on a plan to provide students with meals during the closure. 

Learn more here from Dallas ISD.

Highland Park ISD says it will close schools indefinitely starting March 23 and plans to reassess by April 5. Garland ISD says it will remain closed through April 3.

5:03 p.m.  — Dallas Announces New Restrictions, Shutdown Of  Several Local Businesses

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson announced new coronavirus restrictions, including the shutdown of restaurants, bars, gyms, theaters and the banning of gatherings of 50 people or more. They go into effect at 11:59 p.m. Monday.

Johnson called the decision “gut-wrenching," saying that he understands the economic impact the closures will have on local businesses. 

“I lost a lot of sleep over this,” he said. “We’re only doing this because we genuinely believe it’s going to save lives and flatten the curve of this pandemic.” 

The new restrictions include: 

  • Public or private gatherings of 50 people or more will be prohibited. 
  • Dine-in service will not be allowed in restaurants. 
  • Entertainment and amusement establishments (gyms, amusement parks, theaters, bars, clubs, etc.) will be closed. 

Minutes later, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins announced similar restrictions throughout Dallas County. He emphasized the importance of early action in preventing the spread of the virus. 

"We’re at a place where we’re seeing rapid multiplying,” he said.

City officials say the new restrictions will be enforced by the Code Enforcement Department and the Dallas Police Department, when deemed necessary. Jenkins said the fine for businesses that fail to comply is $2,500 and the jail sentence could be up to six months. 

Johnson said there will be a City Council meeting on Wednesday to discuss ways to mitigate the economic impact on local businesses. 

“I understand the pain that this decision is going to cause,” he said. 

4:31 p.m. — McKinney And Other Cities Announce Public Health Emergency 

The city of McKinney announced a local state of disaster on Monday, following similar declarations from Collin County and other nearby cities including Frisco, Plano and Allen.

“I am convinced that the risks of underreacting are so much greater than the risks of overreacting, and although we hope for the best, we must be prudent and plan for the worst,” Mayor George Fuller said. “It is going to take all of us, working together, to ensure that we put the health and safety of our community above all else, and I have no doubt that is what we will do.

1:39 p.m. — Dallas, Tarrant Counties Announce New Cases

Dallas County Health and Human Services announced five additional cases of COVID-19 on Monday. 

The five patients include a man in his 40’s, a man in his 50’s, a man in his 60’s, a man in his 70’s and a woman in her 50’s. 

All the patients are self-isolating at residences and are not hospitalized. 

Three of the patients are residents of the city of Dallas, one is a resident of the city of Farmers Branch and one resides out-of-state. 

One of the cases is likely linked to community spread and the other four cases are related to domestic out-of-state travel. 

“Significantly, there’s another likely case of community spread among the five cases we are reporting today,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said. “I am in consultation with the mayors of the cities in Dallas County and our state and federal partners. We will be announcing additional measures to keep you safe soon.”

Dallas County now has 19 presumptive positive cases. However, four of those cases are out of county residents and will not be reflected in the case counts posted on the DCHHS website.

Meanwhile, Tarrant County on Monday announced its fifth COVID-19 case. Health officials say the resident contracted the virus on an out-of-state trip, developed symptoms after returning home and later tested positive for COVID-19.

12:29 p.m. — Collin County Issues A Disaster Declaration 

Collin County Judge Chris Hill issued a disaster declaration over the coronavirus on Monday morning.

In the declaration, Hill cited President Trump’s national emergency declaration and Gov. Greg Abbott’s disaster declaration over the coronavirus. 

“Declaring a state of disaster in Collin County will facilitate and expedite the procurement, use, and deployment of resources to enhance preparedness and response,” according to the declaration. 

10:36 a.m. — Texas Waives STAAR Testing Requirements 

Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Monday that he would waive the STAAR testing requirements as many schools anticipate months-long closures due to the spread of coronavirus. 

Abbott also said he would ask the Department of Education to waive federal testing requirements for the 2019-2020 school year. 

“Your health and safety are top priorities, and the state of Texas will give school districts flexibility to protect and ensure the health of students, faculty, and their families,” Abbott said in a press release. “We will empower schools to make the best decisions to protect their communities from COVID-19.” 

According to The Texas Tribune, as of Sunday afternoon, 569 school districts in the state had announced closures due to the coronavirus. Additionally, more than 30 other states have closed schools, affecting at least 30 million public school students. 

Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing Will Start In North Texas Today

Catalyst Health Network, a North Texas-based group of primary care physicians, is opening its first drive-thru COVID-19 testing facility on Monday. 

Testing must be ordered by a physician and is being prioritized for specific groups. The test is currently unavailable for those who don’t have symptoms. 

Parkland Hospital will also begin limited drive-thru testing today. The service will be available by appointment and is only being offered to current Parkland patients, though the hospital hopes to expand its capacity in the future. 

Parkland patients can reach the hospital's COVID-19 Patient Line at 214-590-8060.

Children’s Health Announces Visitor Restrictions In Response To COVID-19 

Children’s Health announced it is implementing visitor restrictions at all of its facilities in an effort to limit exposure to its patients. 

On their website, Children’s Health listed their visitation protocols: 

  • Visitation is limited to two caregivers 18 and older 
  • Visitor restrictions apply to common patient areas, playrooms, food service locations, lobbies and waiting areas 
  • Caregivers who have fevers or respiratory symptoms will not be allowed inside facilities 
  • Daily screenings will be required of any caregivers entering any of Children’s Health hospitals or facilities 
  • Visitors will be required to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before and after entering a patient room 

CDC Advises Against Gatherings Of 50 People Or More

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the cancellation or postponement of large gatherings with 50 people or more.

“This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus,” according to the CDC’s website

Large gatherings and events include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings and other assemblies, according to the CDC. 

The guidance does not apply to schools, higher learning institutions or businesses. 

The CDC website says gatherings of any size should only proceed if they can be carried out while adhering to the proper guidelines for “protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing. When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.” 

8:57 a.m. — Dallas County Cancels All Jury Trials

Dallas County announced that it is canceling all jury trials for Dallas County Criminal Courts, Civil Court and Justice of the Peace Courts through May 8. 

Citizens of Dallas County who have been summoned to the Frank Crowley Criminal Courthouse, the George Allen Civil Courthouse or a Justice of the Peace Court before May 8 are not to reschedule, according to a press release. 

“We are taking the necessary steps to continue the justice system and keep you safe,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said. “I will extend these orders if necessary.” 

The city is also asking attorneys who are representing those accused of crimes to reach out to the Court Managers Office about how to continue representing their clients. 

Jail cases, jail pleas and bond hearings will proceed as usual. In-person disposition of bond cases will resume on May 11 and appearances for bond cases will be waived until May 8. 

According to the press release, cases can be reset by calling or emailing the appropriate Court Coordinator. Some courts can be accessed through Skype as a dispositive setting for jail and bond cases, but citizens are instructed to check with each individual court to determine what options are available. 

March 10-15

• Sunday, March 15 

Texas Nursing Homes Will No Longer Allow Visitors 

The Texas Department of Health and Human Services is restricting nursing home access to staff, designated medical professionals and other providers of key services. 

The HHSC encourages nursing homes to help residents use apps like Skype and Facetime to talk with their family and friends. 

Nursing homes are now required to screen everyone who would like to enter, including all staff members, for symptoms of COVID-19.

Facilities with a history of infection control problems will be under the microscope with the new policies. The state will inspect facilities that were hit with violations over the last three years.

Texas Organizations Collaborate To Launch A Website Of Food Sites For Children 

The Baylor University Collaborative On Hunger and Poverty has launched a website with an updated list of sites where schools will have meals available for students who typically rely on the school cafeteria for food. 

The list will be updated with site locations and times when food will be available under the “School Food Resources” tab, according to a press release. 

“We are working with state and local officials to ensure all children in Texas have ample food access during school closures due to COVID-19,” said Jeremy Everett, executive director of the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty. “In most communities, parents and guardians can take their children to pick up a sack breakfast or lunch from their local school or designated pick-up site.” 

After hundreds of Texas school districts closed due to the coronavirus, a coalition of schools, state and federal agencies, advocacy groups and nonprofits are collaborating to ensure children and families have access to meals. 

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) announced on Friday that it had been granted a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture child nutrition programs. The waiver will allow the TDA to grant schools the freedom to provide meals on a case-by-case basis while schools remain closed. 

Important information regarding meal access:

  • Children need to be present to receive free meals.
  • Meals are available for children and teenagers under the age of 18.
  • If schools are serving both breakfast and lunch, these meals are not necessarily served at the same time. Please refer to the “School Food Resources” tab for site-specific distribution information.
  • If a school district or community is not represented, visit the “Share with Us” tab and tell us what you know. As appropriate, it will be added to the site.
  • If an individual or family needs food resources, they can complete the form on the “I Need Help” tab. If the Collaborative knows of resources in the area, the individual will be contacted.

6:36 p.m. — Denton County Reports Its First Case; Collin County Reports New Case

Denton County announced its first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 on Sunday. 

The patient is a man in his 30s who resides outside of Denton County. However, he is temporarily living in Double Oak, where he is in isolation. 

“DCPH is identifying and contacting individuals who may have been exposed,” according to the press release. “Any individuals identified as having been exposed will be contacted directly by DCPH.”

Denton County Judge Andy Eads announced a disaster declaration over the coronavirus on Friday.

Nearby, Dallas, Tarrant and Collin counties had been reporting presumptive cases since last week.

Meanwhile, the Collin County Health Department announced on Sunday the county's eighth presumptive positive case of COVID-19. The patient is a 32-year-old Frisco man who has no underlying health conditions and is self-isolating. He is not connected to other cases in the area, according to the health department. 

5:42 p.m. — City Of Dallas Opens Temporary Overnight Shelter 

The office of Mayor Eric Johnson announced on Sunday evening that it is opening the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in downtown Dallas as a temporary overnight shelter. 

The shelter will have extra bed capacity to make up for the beds lost at overnight shelters that are taking social distancing precautions, according to the mayor's office. 

The shelter will be open at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 15 through the morning of Saturday, March 21. During this period, the shelter will continue overnight sheltering operations from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. each day. 

11:15 a.m. — DFW Airport Customs Lines Stretch For Hours

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is one of 13 across the country where international flights are being sent and returning travelers are undergoing special screening for coronavirus symptoms. That's producing hours-long waits for people coming back into the country.  

"I spent three or more hours in the most disgusting close contact with strangers that I've ever experienced,” passenger Emma Swaim told KERA's Hady Mawajdeh.

The Dallas Morning News is also covering the story locally. NPR has more on the additional travel restrictions imposed Saturday.

9:47 a.m. — Dallas, Tarrant and Collin Counties Announce New Cases

Dallas County has announced three more travel-related presumptive positive cases of COVID-19. 

They are all men -- one in his 30s, one in his 50s, and one in his 60s. Two are hospitalized; the other is self-isolating at home. 

A county news release says one patient lives in Coppell and one is in Dallas. The other lives out-of-state. 

One case is linked to international travel, one to domestic travel and one to cruise travel.

In total, Dallas County has reported 14 presumptive positive cases. 

Tarrant County announced its fourth positive case -- a close contact to the American Airlines pilot who tested positive earlier in the week. The pilot is an out-of-state resident. 

“The fourth COVID-19 case was isolated at home and then developed symptoms,” Vinny Taneja, Tarrant County public health director, said in a news release. “No one at DFW Airport came in contact with the fourth patient since symptoms developed.” 

The Collin County Health Department announced its seventh presumptive positive case.

The patient is a 56-year-old man in Plano who has no underlying health conditions. He is quarantined in his home, according to the county’s health department.

There are currently seven confirmed presumptive positive cases in Collin County and 63 people are being monitored by the county.

Meanwhile, Mayor Eric Johnson says that Dallas County Health and Human Services reports that 60 people have been tested for COVID-19 through its lab.

12:04 a.m. — More North Texas School Districts Extend Spring Break

Over a dozen school districts in North Texas are announcing an extension of spring break. Large gatherings including meetings, campus events, practices and other extracurricular activities are also being suspended. 

Here are the school districts which have announced spring break extensions so far: 

  • Allen ISD
  • Arlington ISD 
  • Coppell ISD 
  • Denton ISD 
  • Fort Worth ISD
  • Frisco ISD 
  • Garland ISD 
  • Irving ISD
  • McKinney ISD 
  • Plano ISD 
  • Prosper ISD 
  • Rockwall ISD 
  • Wylie ISD 

• Saturday, March 14

10 a.m. — No Catholic Masses In Dallas Through March 30 

Edward Burns announced Friday night that public masses in the Diocese of Dallas will be suspended through March 30. Catholic schools in the diocese will be shuttered until at least March 27. Virus-spurred shutdowns are causing places of worship across the faith spectrum to go virtual with online services.

Denton County also joined municipalities across Texas and the country in issuing an emergency declaration. The county's declaration recommends postponement or cancellation of any gathering of more than 250 people.

• Friday, March 13 

4:15 p.m. — Fort Worth Mayor Besty Price Issues Declaration 

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price issued a State of Emergency for the city of Fort Worth. Gatherings of 250 or more people are cancelled. Smaller groups should take extra precautions. 

All non-essential city services are cancelled or postponed. She said she encourages local businesses to let employees have flexible hours, work from home or spread apart. 

3:05 p.m. — President Trump Declares A National Emergency Over The Coronavirus 

On Friday afternoon, President Trump declared a national emergency as the coronavirus continues to spread across the nation. 

He said the move would allow him to get up to $50 billion to states, territories and localities "in our shared fight against this disease." 

Watch the livestream here

2:27 p.m. — City Of Dallas Closes Parks, Libraries And Cultural Facilities

The city of Dallas issued a press release Friday announcing the closing of city facilities through Friday, March 20.  Those facilities include:

For more information, visit the city's website.

12:15 p.m. — Gov. Greg Abbott Declares A State Of Emergency

Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of emergency for all counties in Texas due to the coronavirus and COVID-19. 

11:14 a.m. — School Districts Across North Texas Are Extending Spring Break

Nearly a dozen school districts in North Texas are announcing an extension of spring break. Large gatherings including meetings, campus events, practices and other extracurricular activities are also being suspended. 

Here are the school districts which have announced spring break extensions so far: 

  • Plano ISD 
  • Fort Worth ISD
  • McKinney ISD 
  • Allen ISD 
  • Frisco ISD 
  • Prosper ISD 
  • Wylie ISD 
  • Rockwall ISD 
  • Arlington ISD 

10:35 a.m. — Mayor Eric Johnson Explains The City's Emergency Declaration 

During a press conference on Friday morning, Mayor Eric Johnson talked about the proclamation he issued last night announcing a state of emergency in Dallas. 

“This decision was not made lightly,” Johnson said during the press conference. “I thought long and hard about this.” 

Johnson said he had plans to meet with business leaders later today to talk about “how to cushion the blow” to lower-income people in the community. 

Johnson has also asked the city manager to order all public, private and commercial labs to report the results of their coronavirus tests daily to the city.

"This proclamation guarantees that your city leaders will have the authority to take quick, responsible, decisive actions to protect the health safety and welfare of everyone in Dallas," he said. 

The disaster order is in place for the next seven days, but Johnson said the city council could vote to extend it.

• Thursday, March 12 

11:12 p.m. — Emergency Declaration Follows Five More Cases

Dallas County's chief executive announced five more "presumptive positive" cases of COVID-19 in the coronavirus outbreak and declared a public health emergency. That means no gatherings of 500 people or more after 11 a.m. Friday.

Dallas County officials said a case of community spread has occured in North Texas. Among the five people who preliminarily tested positive, one person had no recent travel history. 

5:26 p.m. — Dallas County Cancels Some Jury Trials 

Dallas County is canceling civil jury trials for the George Allen Civil Courthouse and all the Justice of the Peace Courts until April 13, 2020. According to the county’s statement, citizens summoned to appear before April 13 should not try to reschedule. 

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said while the county will suspend all civil jury trials, it will not suspend all criminal jury trials. 

“At this time, I have decided not to suspend all criminal jury trials as the inability to guarantee a speedy trial could result in cases being dismissed,” Jenkins said in the statement. 

Jenkins said the county will take other precautionary measures like modifying jury trial selection by not using the Central Jury Room, where there have been large group gatherings. He said in the statement that the county will be monitoring the situation and will make future adjustments. 

NHL and MLB Follow NBA In Suspending Their Seasons

The National Hockey League and Major League Baseball suspended their seasons on Thursday.

The sports organizations followed the NBA, which suspended its season Wednesday after a Utah Jazz player preliminarily tested positive for the coronavirus. The team announced on Thursday that a second player tested positive after the entire traveling team was tested.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman issued a statement about the 2019-20 hockey season.

"Following last night's news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus — and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point — it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time," Bettman said in the press release.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. also announced today that MLB has suspended Spring Training games and will delay the start of the 2020 regular season by at least two weeks. The decision was made jointly after a call with the 30 clubs and the players association, a press release issued by MLB said.

Curious Whether Events Have Been Postponed Or Canceled?

KERA's Art & Seek team is tracking the latest announcements. The Kimbell Art Museum, The Nasher Sculpture Center and the Dallas Art Fair have already announced cancelations. 

Stay updated on the latest here. 

North Texas Universities Move Classes Online

Texas Christian University, Southern Methodist University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the University of North Texas and Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth have announced they are moving their classes online as a preventive measure against the coronavirus.

Over a dozen Texas universities have announced they are extending Spring Break and moving their classes online. Many schools across the state have also canceled events, banned large meetings, upgraded their sanitation measures and restricted school sponsored-travel.

• Wednesday, March 11

4:45 p.m. — Dallas County Reports 3rd 'Presumptive' Coronavirus Case

According to a statement from Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, local health officials have confirmed a third "presumptive positive" case of COVID-19 in the county. The individual, who is in their 50s, is believed to have come into contact with the virus while traveling out of state.

The statement said all the cases in the county recorded so far are not indicative of community spread of the virus, and Dallas County Health and Human Services has notified anyone who's been in close contact with the individual while in Texas.

3:40 p.m. — Dallas Cancels St. Patrick's Day Parade

The City of Dallas has canceled Saturday's St. Patrick's Day Parade and block party.

In a statement released Wednesday, the city said it and Dallas County Health and Human Services conducted a "thorough review" of the event and concluded it shouldn't move forward. 

“Canceling the St. Patrick’s Day parade and block party was not an easy decision, but it is the correct and responsible decision,” Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said in the statement. “While our region still has only a few ‘presumptive positive’ COVID-19 cases that appear to be related to travel, we are actively making contingency plans for the spread of this illness. 

Johnson said the city talked with Gov. Abbott and reviewed how COVID-19 has spread in other cities before making the final decision. 

"An event of this scale, without adequate public health protections, cannot be allowed to occur at this time," Johnson said. "Our primary concern is the health, safety, and welfare of our residents, and we will continue to take action accordingly.” 

Kevin Vela is board chairman of the Greenville Avenue Area Business Association, which sponsors the parade. He said in a statement Tuesday though disappointed the event won't happen, "nothing is more important than the health of our fellow citizens."

Vela said he was more concerned about the event's philanthropic purpose: donating profits to go toward scholarships for Dallas ISD seniors. 

"Since we won't have a parade this year, we are asking our great community to contribute to a GoFundMe campaign, so that we can continue the great tradition of awarding scholarships to deserving Dallas high school seniors," he said. "Our goal this year is to raise $41,000 in honor of what would have been our 41st parade.”

The city said the question of if other mass gatherings will be canceled is being evaluated on a case-by-case basis. 

• Tuesday, March 10

Dallas And Tarrant Counties Report Their First 'Presumptive Positive' Cases Of Coronavirus. 

Officials in Dallas and Tarrant counties on Tuesday reported their first "presumptive positive" cases of coronavirus.

In the first Dallas County case, the person presumed to have COVID-19 is a 77-year-old traveler from out of state who has extensive travel history, officials said in a statement. The individual is being treated in a local hospital and has been isolated. Later Tuesday, Dallas County announced that a second individual in their 50s — who came into close contact with the person in the initial case — also tested positive.

In the Tarrant County case, health officials say the patient is in isolation at a local hospital and is being monitored by staff. Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH) is waiting to confirm the initial results with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Read the full story here.

Collin County Officials Confirm Two Additional Cases Of Coronavirus.

Tuesday, Collin County officials confirmed two additional cases of coronavirus. They are family members of the Frisco man identified Monday as a “presumptive positive” case. 

The man, in his mid 30s, had recently traveled to California. He was identified Monday as the first “presumptive positive” case of COVID-19 in North Texas.

The man is believed to have been exposed to the virus on a business trip to Silicon Valley.

Read the full story here.

What's Been Happening Around Texas

Officials in East Texas have confirmed a positive case of COVID-19 in Gregg County. The North East Texas Public Health District released a statement Tuesday saying the positive result was confirmed by the CDC and the person is believed to have been exposed to the virus through travel inside the U.S. 

The person had mild symptoms and is in isolation at home, according to the statement. 

Roughly 100 passengers are being evacuated to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio from the Grand Princess — a cruise ship docked off the California coast where roughly 20 people were infected with the coronavirus. 

In Texas, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said he is more confident in the protocols adopted by health officials this time. Last week, health officials were heavily criticized after one evacuee was released into the city, only to be diagnosed later. 

“They will stay on the base and not be transported around the city of San Antonio,” Wolff said. “So I personally feel a lot more confident about it. As long as all these things get done, as they say they will do.” 

In the Houston area, the 12 presumptive positive cases of coronavirus are all travel-related. All who are presumed to have the virus were passengers on the same Nile cruise line in Egypt. The city also canceled the remaining Houston Rodeo dates on March 11.

The technology, music and film festival South By Southwest in Austin has been canceled because of concerns about the coronavirus. 

“’The show must go on’ is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place,” SXSW organizers said in a statement.

Gov. Gregg Abbott and the Texas Department of Insurance announced Monday that they've asked health insurance companies to waive the cost of coronavirus testing and virtual office visits for patients.

"We must ensure no Texan is denied access to testing resources relating to coronavirus," Abbott said in a statement. "Texans who are concerned that they may have coronavirus should seek medical attention in the most appropriate setting."