Coronavirus & COVID-19 | KERA News

Coronavirus & COVID-19

Scientist at the California Department of Public Health demonstrating how to test for the novel coronavirus. No actual sample is being tested in the photo.
Credit California Department of Public Health / Via Associated Press

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

Below you'll find the latest stories from NPR, KERA News and the Texas Newsroom on how the disease is affecting North Texas, the state and the nation.

Here's more information on the virus from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention:

How Does The Virus Spread?

The virus that causes COVID-19 probably emerged from an animal source, but is now spreading from person to person. The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How You Can Protect Yourself

People can help protect themselves from respiratory illness with everyday preventive actions.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. 

What Are The Symptoms Of COVID-19?

Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

What You Should Do If You're Sick

If you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, the CDC recommends following the steps below to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community.

  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor: If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider immediately.
  • Stay home except to get medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Wear a facemask if you are sick or are in the same room with someone you're caring for who is sick and can not wear a facemask.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday

These maps are updated daily:



• NPR is updating a national map of confirmed cases and deaths

• NPR is also updating a global map of confirmed cases and deaths.

People wait to speak with representatives from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission about unemployment claims Thursday, July 9, in Midwest City, Oklahoma.
Associated Press

Stark evidence of the damage the resurgent viral outbreak has caused the U.S. economy could come Friday when the government is expected to report that the pace of hiring has slowed significantly after a brief rebound in the spring.

Gov. Greg Abbott speaks to the media during a visit to a Texas Division of Emergency Management Warehouse on Aug. 4.
Associated Press

Five of the Texas Legislature’s most conservative members are suing Gov. Greg Abbott and state health officials, claiming Texas leaders overstepped their bounds when they awarded a major contract for tracking Texas’ coronavirus outbreak to a little-known technology firm.

A man arrives at Starr County Memorial Hospital, Tuesday, July 28, 2020, in Rio Grande City, Texas. On America's southern doorstep, the U.S. failure to contain the pandemic has been laid bare.
Eric Gay / Associated Press

When labor pains signaled that Clarissa Muñoz was at last going to be a mom, she jumped in a car and headed two hours down the Texas border into one of the nation’s most dire coronavirus hot spots.


The city of Arlington is taking a data-driven approach to becoming more equitable through a new Unity Council.

The diverse, 25-member group will determine where inequity exists in the city and give recommendations to the city council for how to make things better.

LM Otero / Associated Press

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

Jordan Vonderhaar / The Texas Tribune

Accurate and up-to-date coronavirus data is critical — not just for informing the officials making policy, but for parents trying to decide whether to send their kids to day care and business owners wondering whether to reopen their stores.

With the national death toll from COVID-19 passing the grim 150,000 mark, an NPR/Ipsos poll finds broad support for a single, national strategy to address the pandemic and more aggressive measures to contain it.

Two-thirds of respondents said they believe the U.S. is handling the pandemic worse than other countries, and most want the federal government to take extensive action to slow the spread of the coronavirus, favoring a top-down approach to reopening schools and businesses.

Woman holding throat.

Sore throat is a common ailment, but it’s also now included among symptoms for COVID 19.

Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press

Amid the chaos of the pandemic’s early days, doctors who faced the first coronavirus onslaught reached across oceans and language barriers in an unprecedented effort to advise colleagues trying to save lives in the dark.

"In my hospital, last week was the deadliest week I've ever had in my life."

The words of a Houston doctor treating COVID-19 patients illustrate the brutal reality facing many in the U.S. medical system now.

Brandon Thibodeaux / The Texas Tribune/ProPublica/NBC News

Two weeks after Valery Martinez's 41-year-old cousin was rushed to a hospital with severe symptoms of COVID-19, Martinez wrote a post on Facebook, thanking the doctors and nurses at Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital in Houston who were working to save him.

Allie Goulding / The Texas Tribune

As higher education institutions nationwide navigate their fall returns to campus in the midst of a pandemic, the University of Texas at Austin made a bold choice to publish the latest data about all of its known coronavirus cases — a number that topped 450 as of Thursday.

Lack Of Aid To States Could Hit Black And Women Workers Hard

Jul 31, 2020
LM Otero / Associated Press

As Congress continues to hash out plans for the next relief package, it’s not clear whether aid is coming for state and local governments. Their budgets have been hit hard by declining tax revenue since the pandemic shut down parts of the economy and by increased demand for many social services.

State Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, on the House floor on April 11, 2019.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Tony Tinderholt was hospitalized last week after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, the lawmaker confirmed Friday to The Texas Tribune, marking the first known case involving a member of the Texas Legislature.

From Texas Standard:

From sanitizing the mail to disinfecting groceries and door knobs, many individuals and businesses are taking aggressive measures to keep surfaces clean to protect against the coronavirus. But are all of these precautions necessary? Or are some overdoing the advice public health authorities have been providing since the pandemic began?

A public health order issued in late-March by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention barred unauthorized migrants from entering the U.S. The order cited concerns over the “introduction” of an infectious disease to the country, which in this case, is COVID-19. What was an initial effort to contain the spread of the pandemic has since thrown the U.S. asylum process into disarray.

Three reporters — from the Rio Grande Valley, El Paso and Mexico City — took a deep dive on how this CDC order affects the lives of asylum-seeking migrants by examining how it’s being implemented along the Texas-Mexico border.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

In a statement Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott said local health authorities can shut down schools if there’s evidence of an outbreak after students have already returned to campus — but cannot shut them down weeks before schools open.

A federal judge in New York issued two strongly worded rulings on Wednesday that put a temporary freeze on restrictive Trump administration immigration policies.

The measures, which are now on hold, had broadened the grounds under which immigrants could be considered "public charges," a label that can harm the chances of obtaining either a green card or entry to the United States.

mural of nurse posed like Rosie the Riveter
LM Otero / Associated Press

During the coronavirusa pandemic, the number of people screening themselves for anxiety or depression has skyrocketed. 

Fort Worth ISD school bus
Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press

By an 8 to 1 vote Thursday, the Fort Worth school board approved a later start to the upcoming school year. Classes will now begin Sept. 8, three weeks later than planned.

Associated Press

The Dallas Mavericks play their first game in four months Friday night after the pandemic halted the NBA season in March. The action will take place in a secure facility in Orlando known as the NBA bubble. 

Fort Worth ISD employee Yolanda Cintron assists with a deep cleaning at the Leadership Academy at John T. White Elementary School in Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday, March 12, 2020.
Lawrence Jenkins / The Dallas Morning News via Associated Press

Just as school districts across North Texas got a handle on scheduling the start of the school year, things changed. Again. 

Juan Lopez wheels a stretcher out of the back of his vehicle in McAllen. Across Texas and the nation, the novel coronavirus is deadlier for communities of color and low-income communities.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Texas’ southernmost county, Cameron, is home to just 1.5% of the state’s population, but it accounts for nearly 5% of its known COVID-19 fatalities.

Eddie Gaspar/The Daily Texan

University of Texas at Austin officials are now considering kicking off the football season with a stadium filled to 25% capacity, interim President Jay Hartzell said Wednesday. That compares with previous announcements from athletics officials that the stadium would operate at 50% capacity.

Associated Press

Even though General Motors was able to reopen its U.S. factories for the last half of the second quarter, the company still lost $806 million from April through June.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, questions Attorney General William Barr during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday.
Matt McClain/The Washington Post via AP

Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert has tested positive for the coronavirus — the first Texan in Congress to be diagnosed with COVID-19.

Updated at 6:13 p.m. ET

The United States crossed a grim milestone Wednesday, with more than 150,000 lives now lost as a result of the coronavirus.

The tragic number includes around 33,000 people who have died in New York, nearly 16,000 in New Jersey and more than 8,700 in California.

Paul Ratje for KERA News

It all happened so fast. An asylum seeker and her two young daughters had just crossed the border between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez when they encountered immigration officials.

More Texans were unemployed in June than at the peak of the 2008 recession.
Paul Sancya / Associated Press

As COVID-19 began wrecking the American economy this spring, Congress rushed to authorize trillions of dollars in aid to cushion the economic impact. Now, some of the key protections meant to keep Americans from financial calamity are expiring. 

Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams announcing a supplier park to support the city's massive GM factory in 2017.
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

The city of Arlington’s Mayor Jeff Williams called for more funding to be directly allocated to local governments and not the state in response to the Senate Republican’s coronavirus relief bill proposal that was drafted on Monday.