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

Mar 16, 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. 

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."