COVID-19 Live Updates: 3 SMU Students Test Positive; Denton County Reports 19 New Cases | KERA News

COVID-19 Live Updates: 3 SMU Students Test Positive; Denton County Reports 19 New Cases

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Get live updates throughout the day on how COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, is affecting North Texas. 

 

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.

Read More: What's Been Happening In Previous Weeks