COVID-19 Live Updates: In-Person State GOP Convention In Houston Will Go On, With Safety Measures | KERA News

COVID-19 Live Updates: In-Person State GOP Convention In Houston Will Go On, With Safety Measures

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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. 

» COVID-19 By The Numbers:

  • In Texas: More than 198,000 cases and more than 2,600 deaths have been reported. More than 103,000 Texans have recovered.
  • In North Texas: Cases in Dallas County: 27,054; Tarrant County: 14,828; Collin County: 3,707; Denton County: 3,403. There have been at least 723 reported deaths in the region's four largest counties. 
  • Counties across Texas: Use The Texas Newsroom's interactive maps
  • Global: See Johns Hopkins University's COVID-19 dashboard.

Tuesday, July 7

Texas State GOP Convention Will Proceed In-Person In Houston Next Week, With New Precautions

Houston Mayor Sylvester Johnson has asked the state GOP to reconsider its in-person convention next week in his city, the state's biggest coronavirus hotspot. But Republican Party of Texas Chairman James Dickey says it will go on as planned.

“I do not think it is wise or prudent to hold a convention of 6,000 or more,” Turner wrote among a series of tweets. “I am asking them to have a virtual event.”

On Thursday, the State Republican Executive Committee voted 40-20 to proceed with the in-person convention. 

Thursday's SREC vote came right after Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statewide mask mandate. Dickey said that meant that masks would be required for most of the convention, anyway.

On Monday, Turner announced strict rules for the convention beyond the mask mandate. City health inspectors could shut it down if the requirements aren’t enforced, he said.

Dickey said safety measures, such as thermal scans, hand sanitizer stations and handing out masks were discussed with Turner on Monday and would be implemented at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

The Texas GOP convention is scheduled for July 16 to 18. The Texas state Democratic convention was held entirely online in June.

Monday, July 6

Dallas County Reports Largest Jump In Hospitalizations

There are 1,214 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 27,054. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said hospitalizations in the county increased 16% in one day. He said the surge in hospitalizations indicates rampant spread in the community:

“Today we’ve seen our biggest jump ever in hospitalizations, both in the region and in the county. We saw 105 more hospitalizations than yesterday, a 16% increase in one day alone. We also reached a new milestone in the number of new COVID -19 cases but it’s the hospitalizations number that we must watch closely. Think of hospitalizations as the sickest of the sick, the part of the iceberg above the water. In order for the numbers to increase dramatically with hospitalizations, the amount of the iceberg underneath the water must grow exponentially. This is what is happening in the community where we are seeing rampant spread.”

Six deaths have been reported today:

  • A man in his 40s was a resident of the City of DeSoto. He had been hospitalized.
  • A woman in her 50s who was a resident of the City of Dallas. She had been critically ill in an area hospital, and had underlying high risk health conditions.
  • A man in his 60s who was a resident of the City of Grand Prairie. He had been critically ill in an area hospital, and had underlying high risk health conditions.
  • A man in his 70s who was a resident of the City of Dallas. He had been critically ill in an area hospital, and had underlying high risk health conditions.
  • A woman in her 80s who was a resident of the City of Dallas. She had been critically ill in an area hospital, and did not have underlying high risk health conditions.
  • A woman in her 100s who was a resident of a long-term care facility in the City of Dallas. She expired in the facility. 

Denton County Reports 65 Additional Cases

An additional 65 cases brings the countywide total to 3,403. There are 26 recoveries in the area, increasing the countywide recovery total to 1,257. 

186 New Cases In Collin County

Another 186 cases in the area raises the total to 3,707. There have been 47 total deaths and 2,758 recoveries in the county.

Tarrant County Reports 820 New Cases 

There are 820 new cases in the county, bringing the total to 14,828. The two deaths reported today include an Arlington woman in her 70s and a Fort Worth man in his 80s. Both patients had underlying health conditions. 

In total, there have been 238 deaths in the area due to the virus. 

Industry Group Predicts Nearly 30% Of Texas Restaurants Will Close Permanently Due to COVID-19

The Texas Restaurant Association projects close to 30% of the 50,000 restaurants in the state will permanently shut their doors due to COVID-19.

Association president Emily Knight told WFAA's Inside Texas Politics the concern now is if another shutdown occurs.

“A second full shutdown I think would absolutely paralyze the industry,” she said. “More than half if not 75% we don't think would make it through that's very significant but what's also significant is that we are 51% of the food dollar and we know the first time around we had a hard time feeding Texans and we don't want them to fill our grocery stores.”

The Texas Restaurant Association has also put together a "Survival Plan" outlining what the $66 billion industry needs to help restaurants during the COVID-19 outbreak. The plan includes tax relief, liability protection and an assistance fund. 

Gov. Abbott’s Masking Requirements Includes Some Exemptions

The Governor's ordered all Texans in counties with 20 or more COVID cases to wear masks in public spaces. 

However, Dallas Morning News reporter Allie Morris told public radio's Texas Standard, there are a few exemptions.

"...If you're exercising, if you have a medical condition, y'know, that prevents you from wearing a mask, if you're eating or drinking, swimming, times when it would be kind of impractical to wear a face mask, Governor Abbott has exempted those. He's also exempted it at church, although protests are covered, you must wear a face mask while protesting," she said.  

Abbott’s order also allows mayors and county judges to restrict outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people.

Sunday, July 5

Dallas County Reports 1,062 New Cases 

Another 1,062 cases in the county brings the total to 25,840. No new deaths were reported today. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said there is still rapid community spread in the area: 

“Today we are fortunate to report no new deaths; however, we do have over 1,000 new cases. The situation is that we are experiencing rampant community spread and it’s up to all of us to #FlattenTheCurve.” 

He also said residents should continue wearing masks and forego activities where masks can’t be worn the entire time: 

“Although the Governor has refused my and the medical community’s request to close in-person dining, you should forgo in-person dining and going to amusements where a mask cannot be worn 100 percent of the time or where there are high touch surfaces like bowling alleys, arcades, concerts, movie theatres, gyms (to include yoga and spin studios, etc.), group youth sports, public pools, day camps, and other social venues or activities that do not allow strict physical distancing. Please wear your mask whenever you leave your home. Remember, your mask protects others and their mask protects you. Please move from selfishness to sacrifice for the benefit of your neighbors and community health and wear a mask within six feet of people outside your home.”

59 New Cases In Denton County 

There are 59 additional cases in the county, raising the total to 3,338. Another 11 patients have recovered from the virus, bringing the countywide recovery total to 1,231.

Collin County Announces 112 New Cases

With 112 new cases reported today, there are 3,521 total countywide cases. There are 46 people who have died and 2,682 that have recovered from the virus in the area.

585 New Cases In Tarrant County 

An additional 585 cases were reported in the county, bringing the total to 14,008. There have been 236 deaths due to the virus in the county. 

Saturday, July 4

Dallas County Reports Record High Of 1,103 Cases

A record 1,103 cases is the highest number of daily cases reported yet in the county. This brings the countywide total to 24,778. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins encouraged residents to continue taking precautions during the July Fourth weekend: 

“Today we reached 1,100 new cases for the first time. It took us 92 days to reach 300 cases, 22 days to reach the next 400 more cases at 700 cases and 2 days to reach another 400 cases at 1,100. I appreciate the spirit of the people of North Texas, that they have moved from our understandable selfish desire to enjoy our 4th of July traditions to being sacrificial and keeping their celebrations to their household only. This is necessary because of the out-of-control spread that we are now experiencing with COVID-19.” 

Jenkins also urged Gov. Abbott to implement new measures, including closing certain businesses, to prevent the spread of the virus: 

“Eight days ago I sent Governor Abbott a letter with a list of requests from local health leaders for action to control the spread of COVID-19. While the Governor did move to a statewide masking mandate and addressed crowd size at the request of 10 people, there are still matters left to address in the letter, such as the pausing of select businesses where masks cannot be worn 100% of the time. I urge the Governor to reconsider these medical requests and everyone to avoid the places on the attached letter as if they were closed during this time of rampant spread. I hope everyone is having a good 4th of July weekend. This 4th of July is different but I hope that it is rewarding for you and your family,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.”

Two deaths have been reported today: 

  • A man in his 70s who was a resident of the City of Balch Springs. He died in an area hospital, and had underlying high risk health conditions.
  • A woman in her 80s who was a resident of a long-term care facility in the City of Dallas. She died at home, and had no known underlying high risk health conditions.

95 New Cases In Denton County

Another 95 cases in the county brings the total to 3,279. Included in today’s cases are 11 inmates at the Denton County Jail and one person at a long-term care facility. 

“DCPH continues to coordinate with facilities impacted by COVID-19,” Dr. Matt Richardson, director of Denton County Public Health said. “Given the congregate nature of long-term care facilities and jails, these populations are at a higher risk of infectious disease spread.”

The Denton County Sheriff’s Office and Denton County Public Health are working on minimizing exposure at the jail and have isolated the inmates who have tested positive.

The additional patient who tested positive at a long-term care facility raises the countywide LTCF case total to 27.

Collin County Reports 88 More Cases 

With 88 additional cases reported today, the countywide total is now 3,409. There have been 46 deaths and 2,659 patients who have recovered from the virus in the area.

Friday, July 3

Dallas County Reports Record-Breaking 1,085 New Cases 

New confirmed cases spiked above 1,000 for the first time, bringing the countywide total to 23,675. County Judge Clay Jenkins said there's no doubt the virus is surging:

“Today we reached 1,000 new cases for the first time and are reporting six deaths. So far this week, we’ve seen a jump in the average number of daily cases from 451 last week to 680 this week and have recorded 42 deaths, our deadliest week thus far. Remember that because it is taking up to 10 days to get back much of the test results, the situation we are seeing with the rise in positive cases is not what is happening today, but what was happening a week or more ago."

He urged residents to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines through the holiday weekend: 

"It is imperative that we do not repeat the spike in cases we saw after Easter/Passover and Memorial Day. Please celebrate the 4th of July with your household only, meaning those you are around and in close contact with daily. Please do not celebrate the 4th of July with extended family or friend groups, and if you must be around other people, always wear a mask.”

All six of the new deaths reported were people with underlying high-risk health conditions; most were in the hospital.

  • A man in his 60s from Grand Prairie.
  • An Irving woman in her 60s.
  • A Garland woman in her 60s.
  • A Farmers Branch man in his 70s who died in a hospital emergency room.
  • An Irving man in his 70s.
  • A Dallas woman in her 90s who died in hospice care.    

122 New Cases In Collin County 

Another 122 cases in the county brings the total to 3,321. There have been 45 deaths and 2,583 people who have recovered in the area. 

Denton County Report High Of 152 New Cases

A record 152 new cases in the county brings the total to 3,184. There have been 37 total deaths in the area. 

“Today we are reporting our highest number of COVID-19 cases in a single day,” Dr. Matt Richardson, director of Denton County Public Health, said in a statement. “Although the holiday weekend is upon us, we ask you to limit contact with individuals outside your household, wear a mask, and stay physically distant.” 

American, Other Major Airlines Reach Tentative Loan Agreements With The Government

Five airlines including Fort Worth-based American have reached tentative agreements for new loans from the government to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic.

The Treasury Department said yesterday it had letters of intent with American, Spirit, Frontier, Hawaiian and SkyWest.

Those and all other leading U.S. airlines previously accepted a combination of grants and loans to help cover payroll costs through September 30.

These five are the first to take loans from a separate $25 billion package that Congress set aside to help companies hurt by the pandemic.

Air travel in the U.S. dropped about 95% by mid-April. It has recovered slowly but remains down about 75% from a year ago. 

Texas Medical Association Withdraws As GOP Convention Advertiser

The Republican Party of Texas is moving ahead with its in-person convention, leading a prominent advertiser to drop out.

In a statement on Twitter, Texas Medical Association President Diana Fite said the Houston gathering “poses a significant health risk to conventiongoers, convention workers, health care workers, and the residents of Houston,” even after a mandate from Gov. Greg Abbott that most people wear masks at public gatherings.

Fite did say the TMA was “pleased” the convention would comply with the mask order.

The convention will start with meetings on July 13th, with a larger general session set to start on the 16th. 

The state GOP’s Executive Committee voted Thursday night to move forward with the in-person convention. A statement from the party said the event would have thermal scanners, deep cleaning, hand sanitizer stations and other safety precautions.

The Texas Medical Association represents tens of thousands of doctors and med students. It says it gave $5,000 dollars to both the Republican Party of Texas and the state Democratic Party, which held a virtual convention in June.

Dallas County Launches Housing Assistance Program

Dallas County has launched an Emergency Housing Assistance Program for residents facing economic hardship because of COVID-19.

The program is aimed at providing short-term assistance for Dallas County residents living outside the City of Dallas. It'll help cover expenses like rent, mortgage and utility bills.

At a news briefing yesterday, Dallas County Director of Health and Human Services Dr. Philip Huang said a lottery system will be used to distribute the aid.

"You know, there's no advantage if someone has faster internet, if you have to use a phone to access it, you're not at a disadvantage,” Huang said. “Everyone who gets in during that time will be in the lottery system."

Residents have until July 9 to apply. Applications can be submitted at dallascounty.org or by phone at 214-819-1968.

July 2

Gov. Greg Abbott Issues Statewide Mask Requirement 

Abbott's Thursday afternoon order requires Texas residents in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases to wear masks when in public. 

The order takes effect Friday at 12:01 p.m. 

The mandate includes exceptions for kids under 10, those with health conditions or people eating or drinking. 

Until now, Abbott has resisted calls for a statewide mask requirement and has allowed local officials to decide.

Dallas County Reports Record 708 Cases, Surging Past Previous High

A record 708 cases today brings the countywide total to 22,590. An increasing number of cases have been diagnosed in young adults from the ages of 18 to 39. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said case numbers are accelerating at a concerning rate. He urged residents to socially distance during the 4th of July weekend. 

“Today we reached 700 new COVID-19 cases for the first time and 387 total deaths. It took 92 days to reach 300 COVID-19 cases and it has taken 22 days since then to reach 700," Jenkins said. "The situation we have right now is significant and accelerating community spread. We cannot afford another statewide letdown in our strong personal responsibility COVID-19 protection choices, so this Fourth of July, celebrate with your nuclear family and avoid crowds and extended family gatherings." 

Dallas County expects to report more than 1,000 new cases Friday.

"We can not have another memorial day after this July Fourth weekend," Dr. Philip Huang, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, said. "If that happens it will be catastrophic."

Seven deaths were reported today:

  • A man in his 40s who was a resident of the City of Irving. He had been critically ill in an area hospital, and had underlying high risk health conditions.
  • A man in his 50s who was a resident of the City of Dallas. He had been critically ill in an area hospital, and did not have underlying high risk health conditions.
  • A man in his 50s who was a resident of the City of Dallas. He had been critically ill in an area hospital, and had underlying high risk health conditions.
  • A woman in her 60s who was a resident of the City of Irving. She had been critically ill in an area hospital, and had underlying high risk health conditions.
  • A woman in her 60s who was a resident of the City of Dallas. She had been hospitalized.
  • A woman in her 70s who was a resident of the City of Dallas. She had been hospitalized, and had underlying high risk health conditions.
  • A man in his 90s who was a resident of the City of Dallas. He had been critically ill in an area hospital, and had underlying high risk health conditions.

473 New Cases In Tarrant County

An additional 473 cases in the county raises the total to 13,423. There have been 233 deaths and 5,517 people who have recovered from the virus in the area. 

Collin County Reports 86 New Cases 

There are 86 additional daily cases, bringing the countywide total to 3,199. A total of 45 deaths have been reported in the area. 

81 New Confirmed Cases In Denton County Thursday

There are 81 new cases in Denton County today. This increases the cumulative, countywide total to 3,032 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 37 deaths. County health officials are also reporting 26 new recoveries, increasing the countywide recovery total to 1,190.

League Of United Latin American Citizens Urges Gov. Abbott To Take Tougher Actions Against COVID-19

The League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, is urging Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to implement tougher actions to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.

In a letter to Abbott, LULAC’s national president, Domingo Garcia, said the organization has declared a statewide public health emergency.

“LULAC has been raising the alarm now for months and yet we have seen little to no action from our national, state and federal governments,” he said. “People are dying. It’s time that we stop play blue and red politics, and we start playing about American lives. And here in Texas, that means we take care of all our Texans.” 

The disease has disproportionately affected Latinos. In Dallas and Harris counties, Latinos account for more than 60% of positive COVID-19 cases. In Bexar County, it’s more than 73%. 

LULAC is asking the governor to issue an executive order mandating that everyone in the state wear a mask. 

It wants violators to be fined $500 and says local public health workers and fire department staff could enforce that instead of police.

Federal Officials Plan To ‘Blitz’ Test Young Adults In The State

Federal officials are planning a "blitz" of testing in Texas, focused on young adults who're asymptomatic and unknowingly spreading COVID-19.

The Dallas Morning News reports those under 35 in "moderate sized" communities will be the target.

The new initiative comes as new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are surging in Texas to their highest levels since the pandemic began.

It's unknown when this testing initiative will begin or how officials would ensure compliance.

Texas State Prisons Accept Inmates For The First Time In Months

State prisons in Texas began accepting inmates from county jails for the first time in nearly three months.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice halted intakes in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in its facilities.

Spokesperson Jeremy Desel said the agency is taking a number of precautions as it restarts the process.

"It will be very limited to just 250 offenders a week coming in statewide from various counties,” he said. “We will be starting with counties that don't show any evidence of COVID-19 within their county jail systems."

The intake process for all county jail inmates will take place at the Garza West Unit in Beeville, where they will undergo a 14-day quarantine.

Since the pandemic began, more than 8,800 Texas prison inmates have tested positive for COVID-19.

Austin City Limits Joins Other Cancelled Music Festivals This Year

Austin City Limits has joined the ranks of other major music festivals that have been canceled because of the coronavirus

Festival organizers said in a statement yesterday that scrapping the three-day October event was “the only responsible solution.” 

The festival is one of the largest in the country. The Coachella music festival in California and Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee will also not take place this year. 

Learn More:

Wednesday, July 1

Denton County Announced 106 New Cases 

There are 106 new cases in the county, bringing the countywide total to 2,951. Another 11 people have recovered from the virus, raising the countywide recovery total to 1,164. 

544 New Cases In Dallas County

An additional 544 cases in the county brings the total count to 21,882. An increasing number of cases have been linked to daycares, large recreational and social gatherings and long-term care facilities. 

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said another surge in cases during the July 4th holiday could push hospitals over capacity and set the economy back further: 

“Today’s seven deaths include a woman in her 20’s and a man in his 50’s with no underlying health conditions, a somber reminder of the dangerous nature of COVID-19 on everyone. Many people are making plans for the 4th of July weekend. We cannot afford another deviation from making good decisions like we saw during Easter/Passover and Memorial Day given the surge in cases we are now seeing.

It was nearly two months from the time I declared a state of emergency and instituted ‘Safer at Home,’ until the daily case numbers began to go down. It was over five weeks from the time the Governor stopped ‘Safer at Home,’ removed requirements, and began opening many more businesses before we began to see a large surge in cases. The only time we’ve seen huge change happen in less than a month has been the increase in the number of cases we saw two weeks after Easter/Passover and two weeks after Memorial Day. That must not happen for this weekend. If it does, our hospitals are at risk of being overrun later, many more people will get sick and die, and our economy will be set back for months. 

Please celebrate the 4th of July with your families and only be around people that you are in close contact with daily. When you are around people other than your family, please wear a mask and keep six foot distance at all times. It’s going to be up to all of us to have a safer 4th of July weekend than we achieved together as a community for Easter/Passover and Memorial Day. Lives depend on it.” 

Seven deaths have been reported today:

  • A woman in her 20s who was a resident of the City of Dallas. She had been critically ill in an area hospital, and did not have underlying high risk health conditions.
  • A woman in her 40s who was a resident of the City of Dallas. She had been critically ill in an area hospital, and had underlying high risk health conditions.
  • A man in his 50s who was a resident of the City of Dallas. He had been hospitalized, and did not have underlying high risk health conditions.
  • A woman in her 60s who was a resident of the City of Dallas. She was found deceased at home, and had underlying high risk health conditions.
  • A man in his 60s who was a resident of the City of DeSoto. He had been critically ill in an area hospital, and had underlying high risk health conditions.
  • A man in his 70s who was a resident of a long-term care facility in the City of Seagoville. He had been critically ill in an area hospital, and had underlying high risk health conditions.
  • A woman in her 80s who was a resident of the City of Dallas. She had been hospitalized, and had underlying high risk health conditions.

Collin County Reports 117 New Cases 

Another 117 cases brings the countywide total to 3,114. There have been 43 deaths in the area and 2,396 people have recovered from the virus. 

606 New Cases In Tarrant County

There are 606 more cases, raising the total case count to 12,950. Three deaths were reported today, including a Mansfield man in his 60s and two Fort Worth women, one in her 50s and the other in her 60s. All of the patients had underlying health conditions. 

Health Officials Criticize American Airlines For Booking Full Flights

Infectious disease experts are criticizing American Airlines’ decision to book flights full as the coronavirus continues spreading across the country.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert at the National Institutes of Health, questioned the decision. He said transmission of COVID-19 is even more worrisome in the confined space of an airplane.

The Dallas Morning News reported that there is no federal law to mandate face masks or leave middle seats open on commercial airplanes.

But all major airlines now require face masks. Some carriers may also deny travel to passengers who refuse to wear one.

Meanwhile, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines will continue selling planes at two-thirds capacity through September. 

Fireworks Sales Are Booming Despite Show Cancellations

Some 4th of July fireworks shows across North Texas are canceled due to COVID-19.

Rex Nelson, owner of Nelson’s Fireworks, said those cancellations are driving booming sales.

“People are wanting to get out because they’ve been pinned up for so long so everyone is putting on their own show,” he said. “And they are coming out and buying like crazy.”

Nelson is concerned about running out of inventory by the end of 2020. He said most of his fireworks come from China and production in the country stopped when the pandemic started.

“There’s no way they can physically possibly produce enough fireworks by the new year season to fill out all the warehouses to get us back opened up in full blown operation for new years,” he said. 

Most cities across North Texas prohibit the sale of fireworks within city limits.

STAAR Testing Set To Return Next School Year

Standardized testing for students in Texas will return in the upcoming school year.

Despite record numbers of daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Texas plans to reopen schools in August.

Education Commissioner Mike Morath said yesterday that includes the STAAR test; which was suspended when school was closed to combat COVID-19.

The Texas State Teachers Association disagrees with the move and says the tests should be put off at least another year as schools try to figure out how to return to the classroom. 

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

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