COVID-19 Live Updates: Tarrant County Extends Emergency Order, Reports 19th Death | KERA News

COVID-19 Live Updates: Tarrant County Extends Emergency Order, Reports 19th Death

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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 totals:

  • In Texas: More than 9,204 cases and 176 deaths have been reported across the state.
  • In North Texas: Cases in Dallas County: 1,261; Tarrant: 517; Collin: 343; Denton County: 366. There have been at least 48 deaths reported 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.

Wednesday, April 8

Tarrant County Public Health Confirms 19th COVID-19 Death

Tarrant County Public Health is reporting that a Euless man in his 30s has died as the result of the COVID-19 virus. Officials say he had underlying health conditions.

Tarrant County has now seen a total of 19 confirmed deaths from the COVID-19 virus, officials say 53 people have recovered. Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja is strongly urging all residents to engage only in essential activities; stay home as much as possible; and maintain social distancing.

U.S. Company That Makes Baseball Gloves Pivots To Surgical Masks

The lone U.S, manufacturer of baseball gloves is shifting during the pandemic to making surgical masks.

Glove-maker Nokona’s executive vice president Rob Storey said the company did so out of concern for its 75 workers.

We’ve always tried to adapt and do whatever we could to help keep the doors open and keep the employees going,” he said. “That’s kinda where we’re at right now."

Nokona makes most of its gloves by hand, so Storey said the company can handle the change.

"We feel like we’ve got some of the best sewers in the world back here,” he said. “It’ll take a day or two for them to adjust but they seem to be growing to it quickly."

Storey expects to donate some of the masks and sell the rest. He hopes that will leave other masks for hospital use.

Tarrant County Extends Stay-At-Home Order Through April

Tarrant County has extended its Stay-At-Home order to help slow the spread of COVID-19 until April 30.

Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja says community spread is responsible for about half the total number of cases in the county.

"It's kind of like what happens with the flu,” Taneja said. You go out, you come home, you've got the flu, you don't know where you got it. So, it's that kind of a situation that makes us believe there's substantial community spread happening."

Taneja says travel is a major source of transmission too — but not as big a hazard as community spread. 

Meanwhile, Tarrant County officials say they feel good about the number of available hospital beds and ventilators in the county.

Commissioner Roy Brooks says the county has plans to open additional facilities to increase the number of available beds if necessary, but he urges the community to continue sheltering in place, social distancing, and leaving home only for essential errands.

"Our case counts are increasing geometrically by the day. Our death counts are increasing at an alarming rate,”Brooks said. “We have not peaked yet."

Both Tarrant and Dallas counties have extended their stay-at-home orders through April 30th.

2 State Prisons On Lockdown Due To Coronavirus

Two Texas prisons have been locked down to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The prison system says about 2,100 inmates at the Rufe Jordan Unit in the Texas Panhandle and Dr. Lane Murray Unit in Central Texas have been confined to their cells on medical restrictions.

Dallas County Commissioners Discuss Plans For Pop-Up Hospital

The fate of the pop-up hospital at the convention center in downtown Dallas came into question this week after the Governor's office said it could be moved elsewhere because Dallas County has yet to house any patients there.

Yesterday, Dallas County Commissioners explored ideas for using the facility with engineering firm AECOM who has helped set up temporary COVID-19 hospitals in other cities. 

"Once the hospitals start seeing more cases, this will be the overflow,” said Commissioner Elba Garcia. “It's not a hospital, It's an overflow facility."

County commissioners could vote on a contract with AECOM this week.

Tuesday, April 7

Collin County Announces 37 New Cases 

The total case count rose to 343 after the county announced 37 additional positive cases, according to Collin County Public Health. 

There have been four confirmed deaths related to COVID-19 in the county and there are currently 435 people who are being monitored. 

Dallas County Commissioners Limit County Judge’s Authority On Stay-At-Home Order

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins will now have to earn a majority vote from Dallas County Commissioners before extending an order for residents to shelter in place. Dallas County’s current stay-at-home order is set to expire April 30.

Commissioners voted Tuesday in support of an amendment that limits Jenkins’ emergency authority as the county responds to the evolving coronavirus pandemic. Under the measure, Jenkins cannot place any further restrictions on essential businesses without first notifying county commissioners and giving them enough time to call an emergency meeting if they wish to do so.

District 3 Commissioner John Wiley Price questioned Jenkins’ rationale for deeming certain businesses essential over others. District 1 Commissioner Theresa Daniel said she understood the need to take precautions for public health reasons, but Daniels said commissioners should be included more in emergency decisions.

“We also are hearing mightily from people all across our districts talking about, how does this impact them as a family with kids, with jobs that they have been laid off from, from businesses that are seeing that within the next 30 days, they’re going to be gone, if not sooner?” Daniel said.

As county judge, Jenkins serves as the emergency manager for Dallas County. He spoke about the need for quick decision making as officials try to stay ahead of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We’re just not going to be able to get things done if we stop and have a two or three hour meeting every day on things like whether or not people should solicit at your home or not,” Jenkins said. 

Texas Health And Human Services Is Hiring At State Supported Living Centers 

Hundreds of positions at state supported living centers and state hospitals are now open, according to the Texas Health and Human Services. Texas HHS is looking to hire psychiatrists, nurses, psychiatric nurse assistants and direct care support staff. 

“People who want to make a difference and help others will find a meaningful career with Texas HHS,” said Mike Maples, HHS Deputy Executive Commissioner for the Health and Specialty Care System. “This is an opportunity to be on the front lines of changing lives and giving back to your communities, your state and your fellow Texans.” 

A cluster of coronavirus cases were found at the Denton State Supported Living Center, where 50 residents and 42 staff have tested positive. 

Denton County Reports 29 New Cases 

Denton County Public Health reported 29 new cases of COVID-19, raising the total case count in the county to 366. 

The total number of residents at the Denton State Supported Living Center who tested positive remains at 50 and the number of staff remains at 43. 

Dallas County Announces 106 Additional Cases, New Ethnicity Breakdown 

Dallas County Health and Human Services reported 106 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total case count in the county to 1,261.

The county also announced the 19th COVID-19 related death -- a man in his 50s who lived in Garland. He was found dead in his home and had underlying high-risk health conditions.

For the first time, the county included the ethnic breakdown of reported cases: 24% Hispanic, 20% White, 19% African-American, 2% Asian and 1% other. But more than one-third of cases in the county do not include details regarding race or ethnicity.

Food Bank Employee Tests Positive For COVID-19

An employee at the North Texas Food Bank has tested positive for coronavirus. In a statement released today, the food bank says the employee worked on the transportation team in Plano and has been self-quarantined since March 27. They say the individual came into contact with a limited number of third parties, which the food bank is notifying.

The North Texas Food Bank is still open and fully operational as it follows all CDC guidelines regarding cleaning and sanitizing, they said.

5 More Deaths Reported in Tarrant County

Tarrant County Public Health is reporting five more residents have died due to COVID-19 — two from Fort Worth, one from River Oaks, one from Grand Prairie and one from Haltom City. The county's total number of positive cases is 452.

The patients' ages ranged from 47 to 88, and all were hospitalized locally.

State Parks, Historic Sites Close Temporarily

On the direction of Gov. Greg Abbott, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission have closed all state parks and historic sites to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Those parks and sites will close at 5 p.m. April 7. The statement made by the governor did not indicate a time at which these places will reopen.

Monday, April 6

Dallas ISD Schools ‘Unlikely’ To Reopen This Spring

It's unlikely that schools in Dallas ISD will open before the end of the school year, according to superintendent Michael Hinojosa.

“We have not hit the peak yet, and of course we're further behind than some of these other states,” Hinojosa told reporters Monday. “To me, the likelihood that we'll have regular school this school year is very doubtful. That's why we're making contingency plans. We've already cancelled just about everything in April.”

He said a final decision will be made soon.

Online learning continues in Dallas ISD. Hinojosa says DISD expects to get at least $50 million from the federal stimulus package. Some of that is expected to help pay for costs associated with at-home learning. Funding will also help pay for cleaning costs, meal service and mental health services.

Denton County Announces 33 New Cases 

Denton County Public Health announced 33 new laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total case count in the county to 337.

The total number of residents confirmed with COVID-19 at Denton State Supported Living Center remains at 50. DSSLC staff totals have increased to 43 after four new staff members tested positive. 

Tarrant County Confirms Two Additional Deaths 

Two more people have died due to COVID-19, according to Tarrant County Public Health.

One patient was a Fort Worth resident in his 60s and the other was an Arlington resident in his 40s. The county now has 13 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths. 

Collin County Reports 4th Death

A 93-year-old McKinney woman was the fourth COVID-19 related death in the county. 

According to Collin County Health Care Services, she died late Sunday evening. While her official cause of death was unrelated to COVID-19, she was known to have tested positive. 

The county previously announced 287 confirmed cases of COVID-19. 

Dallas County Reports 43 Additional Cases

Dallas County Health and Human Services is reporting 43 more positive cases of COVID-19. The total number is now 1,155.

According to the county, about 71% of cases requiring hospitalization have been either over age 60 or have had at least one known high-risk chronic health condition. Diabetes has been an underlying health condition reported in about 28% of all hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says Monday’s case count is “encouraging,” but that he cautioned reading too much into the numbers since several private labs were closed Sunday. But he says local hospital systems are seeing evidence that the stay-at-home order is working to flatten the curve. He encourages people to continue staying at home. But he says those who go out should continue to stay at a safe distance from others and to wear cloth coverings.

Pop-Up Hospital In Dallas Could Be Moved, Governor Warns

Gov. Greg Abbott's office has warned Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins the state would move a pop-up hospital being readied in Dallas if he doesn't plan to use it to treat COVID-19 patients.

Abbott's office was informed Jenkins wasn't intending to utilize the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center for hospital use, The Dallas Morning News reported. At a press conference Sunday, Jenkins called the message "crazy."

He said hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are at about 50% capacity, so there's no need yet to divert sick residents from those facilities to the convention center. However, Jenkins said the county probably will need the pop-up hospital in another week.

Texas National Guard Help Distribute Food At North Texas Food Bank

The Texas National Guard were on hand in Plano this weekend helping hand out food at the North Texas Food Bank. Gov. Greg Abbott recently mobilized the guard specifically to help supporting local organizations.

Starting Sunday, more than 250 members of the guard will be supporting the effort of the North Texas Food Bank. According to a press release, the food bank’s mobile pantry has experienced increased demand because of the pandemic. Normal distributions served an average of 300 households. Recent distributions have grown from 1,000 to almost 2,000 households.

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