COVID-19 Live Updates: Dallas County Reports 80 More Cases; Online SNAP Program Approved | KERA News

COVID-19 Live Updates: Dallas County Reports 80 More Cases; Online SNAP Program Approved

14 hours ago

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

» COVID-19 totals:

  • In Texas: More than 22,300 cases and 580 deaths have been reported across the state.
  • In North Texas: Cases in Dallas County: 2,763; Tarrant County: 1,559; Collin County: 644; Denton County: 661. There have been at least 150 reported deaths in the region's four largest counties. 
  • Check all Texas counties: Use The Texas Newsroom's interactive maps to see cases and deaths across the state. 
  • Global: See Johns Hopkins University's COVID-19 dashboard for totals in the U.S. and around the world.

Friday, April 24

Free Community COVID-19 Testing Sites To Open In Tarrant County

Free community testing sites are expected to open across Tarrant County, thanks to a partnership among the city of Fort Worth, Tarrant County Public Health, University of North Texas Health Science Center and UT Southwestern Medical Center.

According to the city of Fort Worth's website, only one location so far in Fort Worth is open to the public for virtual screening and drive-through testing. Another location in Arlington is expected to open as well.

Beginning Sunday, April 26, specific locations and appointment information will be available on the city of Fort Worth's website.

Thursday, April 23

Online SNAP Grocery Purchases Approved

The federal government has approved the use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for online grocery purchases. It is expected to be in place by May 18, with Walmart and Amazon the first retailers to join the pilot program.

"By allowing SNAP recipients to purchase groceries online throughout the COVID-19 response, we are removing barriers to healthy and nutritious food for many families in Texas," said Abbott in a press release.

Earlier this month, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that Texas Health and Human Services will provide $168 million in emergency SNAP funds to recipients.

In March, Texas received 230,809 applications for the food assistance program, up from 114,008 during the same month last year, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

Denton County Reports 17 New Cases

Denton County Public Heath is reporting 17 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total for the county to 661.

One additional case is reported in countywide long-term care facility residents.

Collin County Reports 25 New Cases

Collin Public Health Department is reporting 25 new cases of COVID-19. This brings the county's total cases to 609.

Dallas, Tarrant Counties Report More Cases

The Dallas County Health and Human Services is reporting 80 more cases of COVID-19 and 7 additional deaths from the disease.

Three of the deaths occurred in residents of long-term health facilities; three had been critically ill in an area hospital; and one death was at the person's home.

Tarrant County Public Health is reporting one more death to COVID-19 and 129 new cases.

Tarrant Area Food Bank, Fort Worth ISD Offer 4 Mobile Pantry Sites Saturday

The Tarrant Area Food Bank and Fort Worth ISD will be providing boxes of food to families from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 25.

Volunteers will be handing out 25-pound boxes of food at these locations:

  • Leadership Academy at Como Elementary, 4000 Horne Street in Fort Worth
  • Western Hills Elementary, 2805 Laredo in Fort Worth
  • Luella Merrett Elementary, 7325 Kermit in Fort Worth
  • Leonard Middle School, 8900 Chapin Rd. in Fort Worth

13th Dallas Police Officer Tests Positive

A 13th Dallas Police officer has tested positive for COVID-19, nearly four weeks after the test was administered and after the test results were lost. The officer is donating plasma.

Wednesday, April 22

Dallas Passes Relief Measures For Residents, Businesses

The Dallas City Council passed a package of relief measures Wednesday designed to support residents and businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

One of those measures is a small business continuity program. The $5 million fund will provide up to $10,000 in grants and up to $50,000 in low-cost loans to small businesses, city officials say.

The money will go to businesses that can demonstrate a 25% drop in revenue because of COVID-19 related restrictions.

A separate program will assist residents facing difficulty paying for housing. The mortgage and rental assistance program will offer $6.1 million in rental and mortgage aid. Combined with other services and programs, $13.7 million is available, officials say.

“We expect to help thousands of Dallas residents stay in their homes,” Mayor Eric Johnson said at a press conference Wednesday evening.

Council members also passed an ordinance to slow down the eviction process. Residential landlords will be required to issue a notice that gives tenants information on rental assistance and at least 21 days to negotiate lease payment agreements.

The ordinance also allows for 60-day eviction notices if a “substantial financial hardship can be proven,” officials say.

Denton County Reports 25 New Cases, 1 More Death 

Denton County Public Health announced 25 additional cases including one case in the Denton County Jail, bringing the total case count in the county to 644. 

The county also announced its 19th death due to COVID-19. The patient was a Denton man in his 60s who was previously reported to be in home isolation and was a case of local transmission. 

Federal Inmate in Fort Worth Dies Of COVID-19

A federal prisoner in Fort Worth has died of COVID-19.

The federal Bureau of Prisons reported that 61-year-old Arnoldo Almeida, who was incarcerated at Federal Medical Center (FMC) Fort Worth, tested positive for the virus on Monday, April 13. He was hospitalized three days later after he had trouble breathing. On Saturday, his condition worsened and he was placed on a ventilator.

The agency said Almeida had pre-existing medical conditions. He was sentenced by a federal judge in West Texas in 2018 to serve more than 15 years in prison on charges that he planned with 16 others to acquire and sell cocaine.

According to BOP statistics, 56 inmates and one staff member have tested positive for COVID-19 at FMC Fort Worth, a low-security prison housing more than 1,500 men with complex medical and mental health needs.

On Wednesday, there were more than 143,000 people in Bureau of Prisons custody. Nationwide, 566 inmates and 342 staff members have tested positive for coronavirus. Now 24 have died.

Almeida is the first federal prisoner to die in Texas. Prisoners at four BOP facilities in Texas have tested positive.

The Bureau of Prisons has modified operations due to COVID-19, such as suspending social visits and increasing the amount of time inmates can talk on the phone each month. More than 1,400 federal prisoners have been sent to home confinement in response to the pandemic.

Dallas County Adds 81 New Cases, 1 Death

Dallas County Health and Human Services reports 81 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the county's total number of cases to 2,683 as of 10 a.m. today.

One additional death being reported today — a Grand Prairie man in his 60s with one known high-risk health condition — plus four other deaths reported late Tuesday brings Dallas County's death total to 65.

One-third of Dallas County deaths have been associated with long-term care facilities, DCHHS said.

Tarrant County Adds 2 More Deaths, 97 New Cases 

Two men's deaths from COVID-19 brings the county's confirmed death total to 44, Tarrant County Public Health reported today. One was a man in his 80s from an unincorporated area of Tarrant County, and the other was a Fort Worth resident in his 60s. Both had underlying health conditions, TCPH said.

Tarrant County also reported 97 new cases, bringing the total case county in the county to 1,430. 

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price Reveals She's Tested Negative For COVID-19

Price discussed her COVID-19 test result in a Facebook Live video Tuesday night.

"While that's a relief, I did find out that another staff member I'd been in close contact with tested positive," she said. "So at the direction of public health officials, I will continue self-quarantining."

Price says she hasn't had symptoms, but she and her husband will monitor their temperatures and keep a record of how they feel.

"Folks, you don't need a false sense of security," she said. "It's best to be overly cautious. ... Act like you've tested positive, and stay home."

Watch a replay of Price's full video:

Tuesday, April 21

Dallas County Reports 90 New Cases, 4 Deaths 

Dallas County Health and Human Services reported 90 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the total case count in the county to 2,602. 

The four additional deaths included: 

  • A man in his 60s who was a resident of the City of Mesquite and had been critically ill in an area hospital.
  • A man in his 70s who was a resident of the City of Duncanville and had been critically ill in an area hospital. 
  • A woman in her 50s who was a resident of the City of Mesquite and had been critically ill in an area hospital.
  • A woman in her 90s who was a resident of the City of Mesquite and had been critically ill in an area hospital. 

Denton County Announces 21 New Cases, 1 Death 

Denton County Public Health reported 21 new cases of COVID-19, raising the total case count in the county to 619. The county also reported one additional death due to COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 18. 

The patient was a Lewisville man in his 60s who was previously reported hospitalized and a case of local transmission. 

Collin County Reports 26 New Cases 

Collin County Public Health announced 26 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the total in the county to 570. 

There have been 14 deaths related to COVID-19 and there are currently 845 people being monitored. 

Dallas Police Department Announces 12th Officer Tests Positive

The Dallas Police Department announced on Tuesday that a neighborhood patrol officer tested positive for COVID-19. 

The officer worked at the South Central Patrol Division and their last day on the job was Tuesday, April 14. The officer noticed symptoms the following day and went for testing Saturday, April 18. 

According to a press release, the officer learned of their positive test results on Tuesday and is under quarantine for the next 14 days or longer when cleared by DPD’s medical team. 

The area where the officer worked and their vehicle will be sanitized. 

So far, 12 DPD officers and two civilians — a communications dispatcher and a public service officer — have tested positive. 

Collin County Reports Death Of McKinney Woman

An 86-year-old McKinney woman died at home this morning, according to Collin County Health Care Services. She had underlying health conditions.

She was the 14th death due to COVID-19 in the county. 

Dallas County Extends Stay-At-Home Order Until May 15

The county’s stay-at-home order has been extended until May 15.

Dallas County Commissioners voted 3-2. Judge Clay Jenkins and commissioners Theresa Daniel and Elba Garcia voted in favor. Commissioners J.J. Koch and John Wiley Price voted against.

The county’s current order was set to expire on April 30, although county officials had said they could extend it.

Price was critical of the extension.

“I still find it abhorrent that we have no plan,” he said. “Here we are, we’re a week out from our April 30th deadline, no plan. Now we’re saying we’re going to take it two more weeks, still no plan. Even if the plan had a caveat.”

Tuesday’s extension comes as public health officials are recommending the county extend its stay-at-home order until the end of May.

Dr. Philip Huang, the county’s health and human services director, said there needs to be at least 14 days of decline in COVID-19 case counts before “you start looking at opening things up.” 

Tarrant County Reports 84 New Cases

After issues sharing data with county health officials Monday limited information, Tarrant County reported 84 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday. There have now been 1,333 positive cases of the disease reported in the county and 42 deaths related to the coronavirus.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price To Be Tested For COVID-19 Tuesday

On a Facebook livestream she hosted from her home yesterday, Price says she had been in close contact with someone who's tested positive.

"I will not be releasing details of who it was that I was close by, but I am confident that the surroundings that we were in, were practicing the right practices,” Price said. “We had our temperature taken as we came and went. We were wearing masks, washing hands, practicing social distancing."

Price will share her test results with the public.

She said she currently has no symptoms and is self-isolating at home with her husband. She's taking her temperature and tracking her symptoms twice a day and urges anyone who feels sick to do the same.

Jesse Jackson Joins Dallas Advocates In Pushing For Testing, Release For Inmates

Rev. Jesse Jackson has joined efforts by criminal justice advocates in Dallas to better protect jail inmates and release those who are medically vulnerable and nonviolent.

The civil rights leader's foundation, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, with the support of the National Medical Association representing black physicians and patients, has advocated for several responses to mitigate COVID-19 deaths, which are disproportionately affecting black Americans.

Jackson told The Dallas Morning News the legal battles in Dallas reflect injustices in the criminal justice system across the county.

He called for better protections for those who are incarcerated and don’t have access to soap and masks. He urged the use of personal recognizance bonds, a non-monetary bond, home monitoring and community release.

A lawsuit on behalf of several Dallas County inmates is one of a handful of suits pending in federal and state courts that challenge the Texas bail system.

Gov. Greg Abbott’s order limiting the release of people who don’t pay bail is pending before the Texas Supreme Court.

Read the full story from The Dallas Morning News.

Court Says Texas Can Ban Medication Abortions

A federal appeals court panel in New Orleans says Texas can now ban medication abortions.

The same 5th Circuit Court of Appeals panel last week temporarily blocked the ban.

But a two-to-one decision by the same panel yesterday said the state was within its rights to ban that and other abortion procedures to help slow use of masks, gowns and other protective medical gear.

Doctors Sue Fort Worth Demanding Most Abortions Be Banned During Pandemic

A group of doctors and dentists is suing Fort Worth to ban certain abortions during the pandemic.

The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports the lawsuit asks that Fort Worth ban abortions in its stay-at-home order, otherwise that order would be declared invalid.

Though the federal appeals court panel in New Orleans said Texas can include abortions in his ban on elective surgeries to help slow use of masks, gowns and other protective medical gear, the plaintiffs want Fort Worth to independently ban the procedure — except in cases when a mother's life is at risk.

If a judge grants the groups’ request for a temporary injunction, the city would be blocked from enforcing its stay-at-home order unless it’s amended to prohibit abortions.

Most Texas Workers Can’t Work From Home

A new report finds 37% of full-time workers in Texas can work from home.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas says that's two points lower than the national average.

Research economist Ychin Su reviewed data on remote working and found disparities based on race and ethnicity:

Asian Americans are most likely to have the option to work from home, about 50%,” Su said. “For white it's about 47%, and for African Americans it's about 33% — which is much lower than Asian and white. For Hispanics it's even lower; it's 23%."

Su says Texas workers with college degrees and those whose annual salaries are more than $60,000 are far more likely to be able to work remotely.

Among Texas metro areas, Austin has the largest percentage of workers with remote-working options, 48%. For Dallas-Fort Worth, it's 42%. Houston's at 40%. San Antonio's at 37%.

Texas Asks USDA To Include Online Groceries In SNAP Benefits

Texas is asking the USDA to allow those on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, to order groceries online.

The demand for grocery delivery has increased during the coronavirus pandemic. But the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports those with SNAP benefits, also called food stamps, can only purchase food in stores.

About 231,000 Texans applied for SNAP benefits last month — more than double the number of applications from the same time a year ago.

Monday, April 20

City Of Dallas Announces New Alphabetical Guidelines To Ease Katy Trail Congestion 

Dallas Park and Recreation announced it is implementing a trail management strategy that will limit usage of the Katy Trail based on users’ last names.

Starting Thursday, April 23, users whose last names begin with A through L will be asked to use the Katy Trail only on Thursday and Saturday. Users with last names that begin with M through Z will be asked to use the trail on Friday and Sunday. 

The public will have normal access to the Katy Trail on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

“We cannot allow this amenity to become a health hazard,” Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said. “We have to be willing to adjust our practices and behaviors and take personal responsibility to stop the spread of COVID-19 so that we can save lives and get through these challenging times as quickly as possible."

Denton County Reports 1 Additional Death, 5 New Cases 

Denton County Public Health announced the 17th death due to COVID-19 and five new cases of the virus, bringing the total case count to 598.

The patient who died was a Dallas man in his 70s who was hospitalized. He was a case of local transmission. 

Collin County Reports 17 New Cases 

Collin County Public Health reported 17 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total case count in the county to 544. 

There are currently 1,076 people under monitoring in the county and there have been 13 confirmed deaths.

Dallas County Reports 84 New COVID-19 Cases

Dallas County is reporting 84 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the total case count in Dallas County to 2,512. Officials say, of cases requiring hospitalization, most have been either over 60 years old or have had at least one known high-risk chronic health condition. 

“In looking at Monday’s numbers, remember a few private labs are closed on Sunday,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement. “We continue to scrap and claw for more testing and you must continue to exercise good personal responsibility decisions, limit essential business trips and wear a cloth covering when you go to essential businesses.” 

Diabetes has been an underlying high-risk health condition reported in about a third of all hospitalized patients with COVID-19, according to officials. Of the 60 total deaths reported to date, 38% have been associated with long-term care facilities.

Dallas Community Testing Sites To Offer Tests To Frontline Workers With No Symptoms

Both community-based testing sites in Dallas will open the criteria to include testing for any frontline worker, even if they have no symptoms.

Starting Monday, first responders, DART drivers, healthcare workers, grocery store and essential retail store workers can get tested for COVID-19 regardless of their age or if they have symptoms or underlying health conditions.

The sites, at the American Airlines Center and Ellis Davis Field House, operate daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Criteria for testing sites are as follows:

  • Anyone with a temperature of 99.6 or higher and shortness of breath or cough
  • Anyone 65-years-old or older
  • Anyone with chronic health issues (diabetes, asthma, heart issues, etc.)
  • Any first responders, DART drivers, healthcare workers, grocery store and essential retail store workers

Texas U.S. Rep. Colin Allred Hosting COVID-19 Town Hall Tonight

Tonight at 6:30, Rep. Colin Allred (TX-32) will host a telephone town hall and briefing on the coronavirus outbreak. 

Allred will be joined by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and Dr. Julie Trivedi, a UT-Southwestern infectious disease specialist, to discuss the latest on the coronavirus and resources for the public. The call will include resources available to individuals and small business owners, according to Allred’s office. 

Listen and RSVP.

Arlington ISD Closes Meal Pick-Up Location After Worker Contracts COVID-19

The Arlington school district has closed one of its 24 meal distribution centers after a food service worker contracted COVID-19.

A district release said the employee prepared meals at Swift Elementary School, but did not make direct contact with families picking up meals curbside.

The district said the closure won't cause interruptions to other meal distribution centers.

Those who picked up meals at Swift Elementary School are advised to visit another location.

Texas Reopens Most State Parks Monday

Most state parks reopen today - but with changes.

Day trips only - no overnight camping is allowed. You also can't pay fees at the parks. All reservations have to be made in advance and purchased online.

Face coverings are now required at state parks, and groups larger than five can't gather.

El Paso Mayor Dee Margo yesterday said two popular state parks in the El Paso area won't open today when others do.

El Paso's exceptions hint that future openings of government services and businesses will be fraught with stipulations based on local conditions.

While the parks were closed, staffers were working on landscaping, deep cleaning, painting and inventory.

Sales Tax Holiday for Emergency Supplies Coming This Weekend

Amid COVID-19 limits on bricks and mortar shopping, there's a sales tax holiday weekend coming.

Saturday, April 25 through Monday, April 27, Texans can save money on emergency supplies such as household batteries, flashlights, first aid kits and fuel containers that cost less than $75.

The Texas Comptroller’s website says the measure is intended to help Texans prepare for events like hurricanes and turbulent spring storms.

The department also has a full list of eligible items.

Read More: A Timeline Of COVID-19's Spread In North Texas