This story is from March 29. For updates from March 30, click here.
Both COVID-19 testing sites in Dallas County will be canceled Monday, March 30, due to inclement weather, Dallas County officials said Sunday.
Testing will resume Tuesday, March 31 at both locations. The sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at both locations.
Top updates for Sunday, March 29:
- A rideshare driver in Hood County has tested positive for COVID-19. Health officials believe it came from an infected rider somewhere in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
- The U.S. government's foremost infection disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says the U.S. will certainly have “millions of cases” of COVID-19 and more than 100,000 deaths.
- The House passed the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus emergency relief bill on Friday, and President Trump signed it into law - meaning Americans will be entitled to getting a check soon from the government.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins enforces more strict nursing home regulations
As confirmed cases of COVID-19 start to spread among assisted living facilities and nursing homes in North Texas, including the county's 10th death from the disease, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins announced in a Sunday news conference that all nursing facilities will be closed immediately to new residents if those facilities have any COVID-19 cases.
Jenkins also instituted new regulations at nursing homes and assisted living facilities, including, but not limited to:
- Immediate notifications after positive tests
- No transfer of patients
- All staff have to wear masks
- Part-time staff can only work at one facility
More regulations will be coming before Monday, Jenkins said.
Jenkins added that if you can get your parents or grandparents or relatives out of a nursing facility and take them into your own home, now is the time to do so.
“If you can bring your loved one home it’s safer than being in the nursing home," he said, adding that he did so for his own mother weeks ago.
County leaders announced a cluster of COVID-19 positive cases popping up in Dallas County. Four people tested positive at the Edgemere Senior Living Center in Preston Hollow. Of the four, three are residents and one is an employee. Of the three residents, one died (Dallas County’s 10th death from COVID-19) and one is hospitalized. Skyline Nursing Center in Oak Cliff also has four residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 and all four of them are hospitalized.
Jenkins said if you do take your loved ones home from a nursing facility where a COVID-19 case is confirmed, you will be under quarantine, meaning "you cannot go to the grocery store, out for a walk or anywhere. If you want outdoor activities, it'll be in your backyard."
Additional regulations are coming to some parks and recreation sites, including taking down basketball goals and ticketing people to enforce social distancing.
Dr. Philip Huang also spoke at the news conference to give an update on the number of hospital beds available. The county is not at hospital capacity yet, but there has now been 488 total cases in Dallas County.
"We're at pretty good capacity now, particularly as we double up on beds at our local hospitals," Jenkins said. He said he is uncertain when Dallas will open the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center as an overflow hospital.
“We have the equipment. We would need the staff," Jenkins said, adding that the staff would need to be from outside of current hospital systems so as not to put a strain on resources.
Earlier Sunday, state officials said that the convention center will be available for at least 250 patients with the ability to serve as many as 1,400.
Watch the full press conference here:
17 more COVID-19 cases reported in Denton County, including more at Denton State Supported Living Center
On March 29, Denton County health officials announced 17 new positive cases of COVID-19. Five of those 17 cases are residents at the Denton State Supported Living Center and another seven are DSSLC staff members. This brings the county total to 165 cases and the DSSLC total to 45 cases for residents, the county said.
Dallas to have first site for overflow hospital beds in the state, Gov. Abbott says
The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center will become the first overflow hospital in the state of Texas for COVID-19 patients, Gov. Greg Abbott announced during a news conference Sunday afternoon.
Officials with the National Guard have been working on identifying facilities across the state that could become an overflow hospital if needed, and decided the convention would be the first to open.
The center will house 250 beds, with plenty of room to expand, according to Abbott.
Officials with the National Guard said that could become as many as 1,400 beds, if necessary.
Hospitals will continue to remain the primary location for acute care, Abbott explained.
Texas has more than doubled its number of hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients, for a total for 16,000 beds across the state, according to Abbott.
That includes an increase in Intensive Care Units beds and ventilators, officials said.
Abbott said he expects that number to increase as more beds become available as a result of his orders allowing multiple beds in the same hospital room and more measures are taken to increase hospital capacity.
“I am grateful for the state’s assistance," Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said in a statement Sunday. "The availability of hospital beds will be crucial to saving lives in the event of a surge in COVID-19 cases. We will continue to work with Governor Abbott to ensure Dallas has the necessary resources to help us through these difficult times.”
The news comes as Dallas County officials report 49 additional positive cases of COVID-19 and another death. The total number of cases in the county is now at 488.
The 10th person to die from the disease in the county was a woman in her 80s who had lived at a long-term care facility, health officials said. She did have other high-risk chronic health conditions and had been hospitalized prior to her death.
Hospitalizations overall have been increasing for the disease in the county, according to officials.
Access to Dallas parks and trails limited as 10th death, 49 more cases reported in the county
Dallas Park and Recreation officials may soon completely close the city's parks and trails to the public because of overcrowding and are already taking actions to limit access, officials said Sunday.
Officials said they have observed visitors not maintaining the proper 6 feet of space required for social distancing, particularly because of overcrowding. So officials are putting barricades at many entrances of the parks and trails, and will also limit vehicular traffic into parks.
The Katy Trail and White Rock Lake have seen the biggest rise in usage during the shelter-in-place order, recreation officials said.
If overcrowding continues, officials may be forced to close all of the city's trails and 397 parks to the public, and said they are prepared to take that drastic step if social distancing is not properly maintained.
“We encourage you to stay at home even though we recognize the mental and physical benefits of outdoor exercise and fresh air. While at the parks, we want visitors to practice social distancing of at least six feet," said John D. Jenkins, Dallas Park and Recreation's interim director.
Gov. Greg Abbott moves news conference to 2:30 p.m.
The governor has moved his update on the state's efforts to combat the novel coronavirus to 2:30 p.m. CST, officials said. Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt and Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd will also be present.
Tune in here at 2:30 p.m. to watch.
Tarrant County reports 11 new cases
County health officials said they have had 139 total cases of COVID-19 reported on Sunday.
That's up from 128 on Saturday, an increase of 11.
2 Fort Worth police officers test positive for COVID-19
Two Fort Worth officers tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, police officials said.
"Both officers are in good spirits despite fighting symptoms, and both have been in self-isolation at home since feeling ill," a spokesperson said.
The officers worked in the same unit and had "limited close contact with others" while they were at work. Staff are working to notify anyone they may have come in contact with, according to officials.
The department is also disinfecting the office space where the two officers worked. Offcials asked the public to pray for a speedy recovery for the officers.
Any offers of assistance can be made to the Fort Worth Police Officers' Association, the spokesperson said.
Nearly 900 cases reported in North Texas
Nearly 900 positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported in North Texas, including 13 deaths.
Two North Texas U.S. Postal workers were a part of that number after they tested positive for the disease as well, USPS officials confirmed Saturday.
One of the employees works at Huffhines Park Post Office while the other is at the Dallas Network Distribution Center.
"We are in the process of reaching out to the local public health offices and will follow the guidance they provide," USPS officials said in a statement. "We believe the risk is low for employees who work at both the Huffhines Park Post Office and at the Dallas Network Distribution Center, but we will keep our employees apprised as new information and guidance becomes available."
Most of the North Texas region is now under some variation of a "stay at home" order as the case count continues to jump upwards and more people are tested.
Texas will get nearly $237 million in federal grant money
Republican Sen. John Cornyn announced Sunday that the Texas Division of Emergency Management would receive nearly $237 million in funding from FEMA "to aid its response to the COVID-19 pandemic."
"I know this is a time of serious uncertainty for both the physical and financial health of our families and our country, but I want to assure my constituents, the 29 million people that I'm privileged to represent in the State of Texas, that the federal government is working to provide the relief we can,” Sen. Cornyn said in a statement. “I commend the Trump Administration for prioritizing the health of Texans as well as local leaders in Texas working to fight this pandemic."
Health experts recommend taking the following preventative actions:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Practice "social distancing" and stay at least 6 feet away from others and avoid large public gatherings
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Consult CDC’s travel website for any travel advisories and steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside of the U.S.