COVID-19 Live Updates: Dallas County Issues Shelter-In-Place Order; Abbott Expands Hospital Capacity | KERA News

COVID-19 Live Updates: Dallas County Issues Shelter-In-Place Order; Abbott Expands Hospital Capacity

4 hours ago

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

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.

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.

Read More: What's Been Happening In Previous Weeks