First responders will now wear masks as COVID-19 cases increase

MARCH 30, 2020



The League City Fire Administration announced Monday that seven of its employees tested positive for coronavirus. It was announced that an employee from the League City Police Department also tested positive. All eight employees are under quarantine.

The fire administration building has been closed since last week.

"Some have tested negative for the virus, and we are still awaiting test results on a few others," said city communications director Sarah Greer Osborne. "It is important to note than none of these employee respond to fire or EMS calls."

The LCPD officer is a shift commander and the city has notified and quarantined any individuals who may have been in direct contact with the individual.

Osborne said the city also has a professional team thoroughly cleaning and deep sanitizing the offices, work stations, buildings and vehicles.

Elsewhere, there are now 12 employees in the Harris County Sheriff's Office that tested positive for coronavirus.

The two most recent cases are male deputies. One of the deputies is in his late 30s, who worked in the 1200 Baker Street jail facility. The other is in his late 40s, who worked in patrol. Both are self-quarantined at home.

There are currently 130 Harris County Sheriff's Office deputies, detention officers and support staff on quarantine for possible coronavirus exposure. Two of these employees are currently in the hospital. Twenty-three previously quarantined employees have been cleared to return to work.

As of Monday, there is one inmate who tested positive for coronavirus in the Harris County Jail.

MARCH 28, 2020



The Houston Fire Department announced Saturday 83 firefighters were quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure.



SEE ALSO: Chief Pena and Acevedo ensure first responders will continue service during COVID-19

Mayor Turner also announced three more police officers tested positive, bringing the total to seven officers who have COVID-19.

As a result, police officers will now be instructed to wear face masks and gloves when working in the field.

"You're going to see some different things as officers arrive on scenes because we want to make sure that they're safe. So you're gonna start seeing more and more officers wearing a face mask," said Houston Police Department Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite. "It may be an odd thing to see, a police officer show up in the field with a mask and gloves on. Remember, they're protecting themselves but they're also there to protect you."

MARCH 27, 2020



On Thursday, two additional Harris County Sheriff's deputies received a positive COVID-19 test, bringing the agency's total to eight.

One of the two most recent cases is a sergeant in his early 70s, who works in patrol. His last day on duty was March 18. He is now quarantined at home.

The second deputy is a man in his 50s, and is a part-time employee assigned to the property room. He is now quarantined at home.

Fort Bend County reported its first COVID-19 related death. The resident was a woman in her 70s with significant pre-existing medical conditions. She was hospitalized briefly prior to passing away and her physicians agree that COVID-19 was a contributory factor in her death. She died at a local hospital late Wednesday, March 25.

Public health officials confirmed the first COVID-19 related death in Austin. The Travis County resident was a woman over the age of 70 with underlying medical conditions.

Three COVID-19 patients in Brazoria County who self-isolated at home have had to be admitted into the hospital, the county's health department revealed.

Before that, there were just four cases requiring hospital care. As of Friday, the county identified 39 cases. A "stay home" issue is in effect.

Elsewhere, A Texas Children's patient has tested positive for COVID-19, the hospital confirmed Friday morning.

The patient's age was not released.

In a statement, the hospital said it wants the community to know it is fully prepared and has a detailed plan in place to identify, isolate and treat suspected cases of contagious infectious diseases such as coronavirus.

MARCH 26, 2020



On Thursday, one Harris County Sheriff's Office deputy tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the agency's total confirmed cases to six.

The most recent case involves a man in his late 20s, who last reported for duty on Sunday, March 21. The deputy is now in self-quarantine at his home. The deputy works in the operations side of the jail on Baker Street, where he has limited contact with inmates.

Previously reported cases include:
  • A female deputy in her late 20s, who is now quarantined at home.
  • A male deputy in his early 30s, who is now quarantined at home.
  • A male civilian clerk employee in his late 20s, who is being treated at a local hospital.
  • A male deputy in his late 60s, who is quarantined at home.
  • A female deputy in her late 20s, who is quarantined at home.


MARCH 25, 2020



Seventeen Harris County Jail inmates were tested for COVID-19, the sheriff's office said. While deputies reported no positives so far, there are results pending for 14 of the inmates tested. The sheriff's office told ABC13 it was testing inmates "who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19."

The sheriff's office also addressed possible cases involving non-violent offenders it released as more coronavirus cases came about.

"We are reviewing individual cases of medically at-risk, non-violent inmates and asking the courts to consider their circumstances. We don't have a list to release," said Jason Spencer of the sheriff's office.



The Texas Primary Election runoff has been postponed to Tuesday, July 14.

Citing COVID-19 mass gathering concerns, Gov. Greg Abbott pushed the elections back to that date, which was already set for SD 14 Texas Senate special election in the Austin area.

The new date means early voting starts July 7.

A Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Deputy is in quarantine after authorities say he started showing symptoms of the coronavirus. According to a release, the constable deputy was at a scene with a sheriff's deputy who has tested positive for COVID-19.

According to a tweet from Precinct 4, the deputy has been tested and is quarantined at his home.



MARCH 24, 2020



During a press conference Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott said COVID-19 tests in Texas have exceeded 11,000. The state's death toll is at 11.

He also said the state is expected to get 1 million personal-protection equipment masks by next week.

University of Houston identified its first two COVID-19 cases.

"As a community of nearly 53,000 students, faculty and staff, it is reasonable to expect that we will have several cases that will involve members of our community," UH told ABC13.



Elsewhere, Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick released a statement after remarks Monday saying the state should get back to work.

Patrick said he does not want to see the nation as a whole sacrificed in an effort to contain the coronavirus, and that people over the age of 70 will "take care of ourselves."

The Centers for Disease Control says people over the age of 65 are at higher risk of the coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19.

Patrick, who is 69 years old, falls in the ranks of those at high risk but says it's a high risk he is willing to take to preserve the economic well being of the nation.

"I want to live smart, and see through this, but I don't want the whole country to be sacrificed and that's what I see," Patrick said.

In response, he released this statement:

"I was very clear last night that we should continue President Trump's 15-day plan and if he believes we need more time, then we need more time. I trust his judgement.

But at some point, sooner rather than later, we must get back to work before our nation totally collapses.

We can do two things at once -- address the health care crisis and get people their jobs back - while following the CDC guidelines in a smart way.

When you close the doors of every business in America, you cannot help but destroy the economy and with it, the opportunity for the next generation to live the American dream."

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced a new order that restricts the movement in unincorporated Harris County as authorities work to fight the spread of COVID-19. The order is in effect at midnight.

Additionally, the new restrictions also apply to the city of Houston. It will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday and last until April 3.

Amazon has confirmed that an employee at its Houston delivery station has tested positive for COVID-19. Amazon says the employee is receiving medical care and is in quarantine. The company has also reached out to employees at the site and asked for anyone who had close contact with this person to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Alief ISD says a woman in her 40s who works for Owens Intermediate School has tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the district, "Owens Intermediate School continues to be deeply sanitized and although schools and offices have been closed since March 13, 2020 and remain closed at this time, all Alief ISD employees and students are instructed to continue to follow CDC guidelines and recommendations and to continue to practice social distancing."

The district says that based on the information it has gathered, the end of the 14-day incubation period for anyone possibly exposed on campus to the employee is Thursday, March 26.

MARCH 23, 2020



Late afternoon, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo told ABC13 three officers have tested positive for coronavirus during job-related exposures.

He said all three officers are at home and in quarantine.

Acevedo also said 190 police department personnel, a combination of both officers and support staff, are also in quarantine and are being monitored for symptoms.

He said most of them appear to be travel-related. There will be no impact to daily operations, Acevedo added.

Earlier on Monday, a TSU staff member tested positive for COVID-19, according to the university.

School officials released limited information Monday afternoon saying the person is a staff member but not a professor. No additional details were provided.

The University of Houston-Downtown also reported that one of its employees tested positive for coronavirus. According to the university, the employee is under medical care, and officials are working with city health authorities.

UHD says campus operations will go online starting Monday, March 23, with its library resources available from home. UHD's off-site centers at UHD Northwest, Lone Star-Kingwood, and Lone Star-CyFair will be closed through April 6, according to the university's website.

Its spring commencement has also been postponed until late summer or fall.

Elsewhere, an MD Anderson staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, the cancer center confirms.

MD Anderson says the person is part of the research staff and is currently being treated at another health care institution in Houston. The individual worked in one of MD Anderson's research labs, had no patient contact, and is not involved in any clinical care activities.

All employees exposed to the staff member are undergoing monitoring and self-quarantine, per MD Anderson's Employee Health department and CDC guidelines.

MARCH 22, 2020



A Fort Bend ISD employee is hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19, according to the district.

In a statement released on Sunday, the district said a man in his 50s, who works in the FBISD warehouse, recently traveled domestically during spring break and did not report to work when he came back.

"The FBISD warehouse will be closed until further notice, with only one or two staff reporting for essential duty," said the district. "The facility continues to be sanitized with the utmost care, and all FBISD employees are directed to continue to follow all CDC precautions and to practice social distancing."

The district said the end of the 14-day incubation period for any FBISD employee who was exposed to this employee is Thursday, March 26.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signs executive orders

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday said the National Guard could begin monitoring drive-in testing sites on Monday and prodded the federal government to do more to help states secure more tests and medical supplies to fight the spreading coronavirus outbreak.

The Republican declined at a news conference to follow the lead of other states with a statewide "shelter in place" order. But he warned Texans that it could be coming if they don't heed his previous orders on Friday that limited social gatherings to under 10 people, closed schools, bars and gyms and banned dine-in eating at restaurants.

"Stricter standards will be taken," if necessary, Abbott said. "If you don't have an essential reason for leaving your home, you should not be leaving your home."

Gov. Abbott remained unsure about the status of Texan schools, however he was hopeful when referring to different learning opportunities established by teachers, saying, "Where it's available, students have access to online learning. Where it's not available, there is an expectation that teachers will be delivering to homes packets for students for homework purposes and for testing purposes."

Houston firefighters quarantined in hotel and monitoring for symptoms after contact with potential COVID-19 patient

Four Houston firefighters spent their first night in a Houston hotel under quarantine after contact with a COVID-19 patient.

The four were ordered to isolate after a 'medium/high risk' contact with a potential patient. None of the four show any symptoms of infection, authorities said.

SEE MORE:

  • The latest number of confirmed cases in the U.S. can be found at the CDC's 2019 Novel Coronavirus in the U.S. page. (The CDC updates the webpage on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.)

  • CORONAVIRUS MAPS: Check out the latest maps of COVID-19 cases, deaths in the US

  • LATEST LOCAL CASES: This is the updated number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the greater Houston area

  • SCHOOL CLOSURES: Many school districts and colleges have closed across the state


  • MARCH 21, 2020



    Gov. Abbott waives several regulations in hopes of expanding nursing workforce

    As the numbers of coronavirus cases rapidly grow in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has waived several regulations to help meet the state's need for nurses.

    The governor's actions will expand Texas' active nurse workforce by doing the following:

  • Allowing temporary permit extensions to practice for graduate nurses and graduate vocational nurses who have yet to take the licensing exam.
  • Allowing students in their final year of nursing school to meet their clinical objectives by exceeding the 50% limit on simulated experiences.
  • Allowing nurses with inactive licenses or retired nurses to reactivate their licenses.


  • Lance McCullers shares Houston restaurants to visit during COVID-19 outbreak

    Astros pitcher Lance McCullers is showing fans how to be Houston strong during the recent COVID-19 crisis.

    With the sudden closures bars and restaurants in Houston, the All-Star pitcher took to social media in hopes to encourage Houston residents to patronize area food places with the hashtag, #eatlocal.

    MARCH 20, 2020



    Brazoria County officials announced today they have identified another coronavirus case. The fifth patient in the area is a man between 40 and 50 years old and lives in the Rosharon area. The man is recovering at home, according to the Brazoria County Health Dept.

    Nationally, while the tax deadline has been moved back three months, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said he encourages all taxpayers who may have refunds to file now to get their money.




    MARCH 19, 2020



    Texas declares health disaster, leaving take-out only restaurants open

    In Thursday's press conference, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he had been tested for coronavirus, but the results came back negative. He also declared a health disaster across the state, leaving no county in defiance of federal guidelines. The order is in effect at midnight Friday and will go on until April 3, with an extension pending. Abbott exempted restaurants with take-out and drive-thru services. Abbott also ordered no social gatherings of more than 10 people as part of the order.

    First Harris County death from coronavirus

    An elderly man who tested positive for COVID-19 has died, becoming the first death in Harris County. The patient, who was between 80 and 90 years old, was a resident of a nursing home in the northwest part of the county.

    Fort Bend Co. deputies to hand out disinfectant solution to residents

    If you live in Fort Bend County and are in need of disinfectant solution, now you can ask a deputy.

    The Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office said its deputies will soon distribute disinfectant solution to all residents.

    Harris County officials provide update on coronavirus

    Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and health officials provided another update, saying that Harris County reported its 19th case, bringing the area total to 63.

    Health officials say the 19th case is a 40-50-year-old man who had no history of travel. He lives in northwest Harris County and is now hospitalized.

    Hidalgo also announced there will be no eviction hearings until the end of March.

    WATCH: Update from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo
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    CORONAVIRUS RELIEF: Harris Co. Judge Lina Hidalgo offers insight into an eviction hold amid the COVID-19 crisis.



    The judge said the county is still waiting on materials to increase testing capabilities. Officials said there will eventually be four testing sites open in Houston and Harris County, with one of those opening on Thursday.

    Hidalgo urged people not to show up to the testing sites being built in light of social distancing.

    Health officials also provided an update on the ILA worker, who tested positive for coronavirus. Out of an abundance of caution, Port of Houston has temporarily closed Bayport and Barbours Cut terminals. Authorities said they don't know how long the port will be closed, but think it could be for days, rather than weeks.

    Hidalgo thanked residents for adhering to the social distancing guidelines, saying, "You are helping save lives."

    A mental health line has also been established: 833-251-7544.

    Government checks to Americans

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the White House is working to send $1,000 checks to most adult Americans and an additional $500 per child as part of the trillion dollar plan to help stem an economic crisis.

    Mnuchin told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo, "As soon as congress passes this we get this out in three weeks." Another round of payments would go out six weeks after that if the country is still experiencing a national emergency.

    Wuhan reports no new COVID-19 cases, offers hope to world

    Last month, Wuhan was overwhelmed with thousands of new cases of coronavirus each day. But in a dramatic development that underscores just how much the outbreak has pivoted toward Europe and the United States, Chinese authorities said Thursday that the city and its surrounding province had no new cases to report. The news offered a rare glimmer of hope for the rest of the world as it battles the virus, and perhaps a lesson in the strict measures needed to halt its spread.

    Could some Harris County inmates be released to help stop spread of coronavirus in jails?

    We could find out more soon on whether Harris County leaders plan to allow for the release of some jail inmates to keep COVID-19 from spreading. On Twitter Wednesday night, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez wrote that he and his team are "working tirelessly to manage jail population and maintain revised protocols. An outbreak in our jail could be catastrophic on our limited local health system."

    Gov. Greg Abbott to discuss latest COVID-19 efforts

    Governor Greg Abbott is expected to make an announcement regarding the state's efforts to combat COVID-19 on Thursday, March 19 at 12 p.m. The Governor will be joined by various state health officials. Abbott will likely discuss his decision on shutting down bars and restaurants statewide.

    MARCH 18, 2020



    Free Houston-area drive-thru coronavirus testing to start Thursday

    Those who may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus can soon be tested for free. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Chair of the Congressional Coronavirus Task Force, said free testing will begin Thursday, March 19. She's expected to hold a press conference. urging residents to take advantage of the free testing. The free-of-charge testing will take place at United Memorial Medical Center, located at 510 West Tidwell.

    Trump invokes act to marshal private sector against coronavirus pandemic

    Managing dual health and economic crises, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he will invoke a federal provision that allows the government to marshal the private sector in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump, appearing in the White House briefing room for the third day in a row, said he would sign the Defense Production Act "in case we need it" as the government bolsters resources for an expected surge in cases of the virus. Trump also said he will expand the nation's testing capacity and deploy a Navy hospital ship to New York City, which is rapidly becoming the epicenter of a pandemic that has rattled the U.S. economy and rewritten the rules of American society. A second ship will be deployed to the West Coast.

    Driver licenses expiration dates waived

    Governor Greg Abbott announced that he has directed the Department of Public Safety to temporarily waive expiration dates for driver licenses. This action falls within the Governor's State of Disaster Declaration and is part of the ongoing effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by limiting visitors at DPS locations. The waive also includes commercial driver licenses and other identification forms. This suspension will be in effect until 60 days after the DPS provides further public notice that normal Driver License operations have resumed. Abbott also issued a proclamation to allow political subdivisions to postpone their 2020 elections. Local governments now have the ability to postpone their May 2, 2020 elections until November 3, 2020.

    Montgomery County cases update
    The Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management confirmed their sixth case of coronavirus in the county Wednesday. Health officials say the man in his 40s recently traveled to California and is isolated in his home. In their update, officials also said two Montgomery County patients are in critical condition. Officials believe one of the critical COVID-19 patients contracted the virus through community spread. The county has had 27 tests come back negative, and have 102 tests currently pending.

    Coronavirus testing sites still in the works in Houston area

    Harris County and the City of Houston are still working on getting coronavirus test sites up but they are not on line just yet.

    There was a rumor about sites opening by midweek, but that is not the case. Now, officials are urging the public not to seek out and line up at the rumored locations.

    Total worldwide cases tops 200,000

    President Trump wrote in a tweet Wednesday the U.S. border with Canada will be temporarily closed to non-essential traffic.

    The president said trade will not be affected.


    The number of people infected worldwide crested the 200,000 mark and deaths topped 8,000, with the number of people now recovered at more than 82,000, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

    Wuhan, China, confirms only 1 new coronavirus case for 2nd straight day; Every European country confirms cases

    Nearly four months after the first cases of COVID-19 were discovered in Wuhan, the Chinese city has reported just one new case for the second day straight.

    Wuhan and the surrounding Hubai providence confirmed only one new case of the new coronavirus Monday and Tuesday, China's National Health Commission reported.

    Overall, the Chinese mainland has reported 80,894 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,237 deaths, but since, the number of new cases has dwindled, and more than 65,000 people recovered from the virus.
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