COVID-19 Live Updates: Dallas County Reports 100 New Cases, 2 More Deaths | KERA News

COVID-19 Live Updates: Dallas County Reports 100 New Cases, 2 More Deaths

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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, April 1

Denton County Reports 25 New Cases 

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

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

Coming May 5: An Emergency North Texas Giving Day

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

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

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

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

Dallas County Reports 100 New Cases, 2 More Deaths

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

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

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

Tarrant County Reports 2 Additional COVID-19 Deaths

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

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

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

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

Collin County Reports 24 New COVID-19 Cases

Collin County is reporting an additional 24 COVID-19 cases bringing the countywide total to 284 confirmed cases.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4th Dallas Police Officer Tests Positive for COVID-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Texas Health and Human Services Launches Statewide Mental Health Support Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 31

Collin County Rescinds Order That Declared All Businesses Essential

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He's also ordered nonessential businesses closed through April.

The latest order could be extended. 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 COVID-19 Cases Continue To Increase In North Texas  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more from The Texas Tribune.

Texas Tops 3,300 Cases, Reports 48 Deaths

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

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

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

JPS Health Network Testing Sterilization Process For Masks

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

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

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

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

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

Fort Worth Shuts Down Basketball, Volleyball Courts

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

Read More: What's Been Happening On Previous Days