According to the latest information from the state health department, two Kerr County residents are among at least 10,230 people in Texas who tested positive for the coronavirus that’s swept the world.
Of Texas’s 254 counties, 170 reported coronavirus infections. At least 199 people had died from the disease in Texas and 106,134 had been tested. About 1,101 people had recovered from the disease in Texas.
Nationwide, 26,522 people have recovered from the disease, 466,396 have been infected and 16,703 have died.
At the time of this writing, worldwide coronavirus infections totaled 1,619,495, deaths numbered 97,200, and 365,142 people had recovered, according to the university.
Top five Texas counties for confirmed infections
Harris County – 2,341
Dallas County – 1,324
Travis County – 597
Tarrant County – 588
Bexar County – 554
Confirmed infections in nearby counties
Kendall County – 9
Bandera County – 1
Gillespie – 1
Medina County – 9
Uvalde County – 6
Blanco County – 4
Llano County – 3
Mason County – 1
Hays County – 77
Comal County – 29
More than 13% of Texas nursing homes have at least one patient with coronavirus
More than 160 of the state’s 1,222 nursing homes, or about 13%, have at least one case of the new coronavirus, state officials said late Thursday. And 38 nursing home residents and staff members have died of COVID-19 statewide.
The disclosure came after The Texas Tribune reported that Texas was not disclosing comprehensive data on nursing home residents and staffers who have tested positive for the virus. Roughly 93,000 Texans live in licensed nursing homes throughout the state.
San Antonio sees a $100 million drop in revenues to the city
San Antonio’s city coffers have lost $100.9 million from a halt in commercial and tourist activities from the new coronavirus, the San Antonio Express-News reports. The decrease in revenues comes from the drops in retail sales, hotel room bookings, flights to the local airport and events in the Alamodome and the convention center.
The city has paused some street improvement projects and economic development incentives, furloughed 270 municipal employees in areas funded by hotel occupancy taxes and is expecting unemployment there might reach up to 14%, the paper reported.
Austin City Council approves $15 million in economic relief funds
The Austin City Council unanimously voted to use up to $15 million of the city’s reserves to assist people hit by the economic collapse caused by the new coronavirus, the Austin Statesman reports. The funds will be used to provide monetary assistance and pay for food services. It will be managed by Austin Public Health through local nonprofits. Health officials will begin reaching out to potential beneficiaries on Friday.
The City Council also approved contracts to with three hotels to house people that test positive for COVID-19 but can’t find a place to self-isolate or quarantine without putting their families or the public at risk, the paper reported.
Some abortions may proceed in Texas during the coronavirus pandemic, federal judge rules
In a second rebuke to Texas GOP officials who have said a ban on nearly all abortions is essential as the state battles the novel coronavirus, a federal judge in Austin ruled Thursday that some abortions may proceed.
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel narrowed Texas’ prohibition to allow certain abortions to proceed while a gubernatorial emergency order barring medical procedures that are not “immediately medically necessary” still stands. The ruling will allow Texas abortion providers to proceed with medication abortions — which involve patients ingesting pills and do not consume scarce medical protective equipment — as well as procedural abortions for patients who risk meeting the state’s gestational age cutoff for abortions before Gov. Greg Abbott’s emergency order is lifted.
Data center outage affected Texas’ unemployment site
On Thursday afternoon, a data center outage affected the Texas Workforce Commission, the agency that is in charge of processing unemployment claims, according to the Houston Chronicle. The unemployment insurance system and the website of the Texas Workforce Commission were offline for around an hour, but no data was lost, according to a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Information Resources.
More Texans filed for unemployment in the last four weeks than all of 2019, using either the website or the commission’s phone line. The demand has overwhelmed both options, and the commission is looking for alternatives like third-party call center vendors and bringing in workers from other state agencies to help with the applications.
ACLU sues Dallas County to release inmates over 50 years old
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and other civil rights attorneys are leading a federal lawsuit against Dallas County, asking for the immediate release of all county jail inmates who are over 50 or have medical conditions.
As of Tuesday, 23 Dallas County inmates had tested positive for the new coronavirus. The lawsuit, filed Thursday, argues that not enough is being done to prevent further spread of the illness and says the continued incarceration of more vulnerable inmates is unconstitutional.
In Harris County, officials have wrangled over the release of more jail inmates in a disease-prone environment — arguing over concerns of public safety if more people accused of crimes are freed and equal treatment for those who can and can’t afford to post bail for their release. On Wednesday, the ACLU of Texas filed a related suit against Gov. Greg Abbott for his order restricting the release of jail inmates without paying bail.
El Paso-area ICE detainee tests positive for novel coronavirus
A detainee at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in the El Paso field office has tested positive for the new coronavirus, a legal aid group said Thursday.
This is the first case of a detainee in a Texas-based field office becoming infected, according to an ICE case tracker. The detainee is being held just outside El Paso at the Otero processing facility in Chaparral, New Mexico, where an employee also has the virus, the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center said.
“ICE has a responsibility to protect the wellbeing of people in the Borderland, of the migrants in their custody and of their staff, which they have ignored in the face of COVID-19,” said Linda Corchado, the director of legal services at the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. “They have failed to implement and follow CDC guidelines. We must hold them accountable for the human cost of their actions and inactions in the face of this crisis.”
According to ICE, 37 detainees have the virus, though the Otero case is not reflected in the most recent tally. Corchado told The Texas Tribune that the office of U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, confirmed the cases.
Texas Supreme Court delays collection of consumer debt until May 8
Creditors will have to delay collections of consumer debt until May 8, per a Thursday order from the Texas Supreme Court. Courts can issue writs of garnishments — which authorize withholding money from someone’s paycheck or bank account to settle unpaid debt — but debt collection can’t take effect until after May 7.
The order is effective immediately, and hearings can begin again April 30, though the chief justice could extend that date. While the order is in effect, those who are owed debt are not permitted to freeze accounts at financial institutions. Until April 30, they can request default judgment in the meantime. The Supreme Court order encourages involved parties to reach an agreement on the garnishment, and courts can aid in facilitating this agreement.
Numerous confirmed cases at nursing homes in Arlington and Missouri City
Five cases of coronavirus were confirmed in an Arlington retirement community after all 263 residents and staff were tested, The Dallas Morning News reported. And 28 cases have been confirmed in the Park Manor Quail Valley nursing home in Missouri City, according to the Houston Chronicle. That facility requested testing of all residents and staff after a resident tested positive March 30.
Dallas will rent RVs and hotel rooms to quarantine first responders
The Dallas City Council approved $4.3 million for protective equipment, recreational vehicles and hotel rooms, the latter to be used to quarantine first responders, The Dallas Morning News reported. Dallas police have said at least six officers have tested positive for the new coronavirus; so have nine firefighters.
More than 760,000 Texans have applied for unemployment insurance over the last four weeks, exceeding the roughly 700,000 people who filed for unemployment relief in Texas in all of 2019.
Just last week, a historic 313,832 Texans submitted unemployment insurance claims, which was a 13.6% jump from the previous week’s short-lived record. Analysts expect many more people to lose work in the coming weeks as more than 1 million Texans are expected to be jobless.
The numbers are early — but incomplete — indicators of how dramatically and suddenly the state’s economy collapsed under social distancing orders officials issued to curb the still growing public health crisis spurred by the novel coronavirus.
And the numbers already available don’t include massive amounts of out-of-work Texans who have struggled in vain to file unemployment claims because they can’t get through to the Texas Workforce Commission, which has been inundated by people seeking aid. Of the 3.5 million calls the agency received Tuesday, 3.1 million calls were met with a busy signal, said Cisco Gamez, a spokesperson for the commission.
State-run homes for Texans with developmental disabilities aren’t ready for coronavirus outbreaks, some workers warn
Across the state, about 3,000 Texans with intellectual and developmental disabilities — many of whom are medically fragile — share close quarters in dorm-style housing at state supported living centers. Depending on the severity of their disabilities, they may not understand rules about hand-washing or maintaining a safe distance from others. There are also 13,000 people employed at the centers, and most of them work closely with residents, tending to their medical care and assisting with intimate tasks such as bathing, getting dressed or brushing their teeth.
As nursing homes continue to emerge as hotbeds for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, officials and family members of residents at the state’s supported living centers are crying out for help, saying they also need more resources and staffing to protect some of the state’s most vulnerable people from spread.
After an initial crackdown on outside visitors, state officials say they’re ramping up support by providing more testing across the state and additional personnel for facilities where the virus has been detected. But people close to the facilities have reported that the state is responding too slowly to the emergency.
As of Wednesday, there were at least 52 reported cases among residents and 48 among staff at the 13 state centers, which includes 97 people in Denton, two in Richmond and one at the Mexia facility.
“They [residents] may not have the understanding or capacity to know to wash their hands repeatedly, to use hand sanitizer, or when coughing or sneezing to use their elbow or shoulder to prevent the spread,” said Beth Mitchell, supervising attorney at Disability Rights Texas. “And then on top of that, they have all of the same underlying health conditions that everybody else does.”
Taxpayers warned of scams related to COVID-19 impact checks
Rio Grande Valley residents waiting for COVID-19 economic impact checks from the IRS may be susceptible to scammers seeking to collect bank account information through phone calls and fake checks mailed to residents, according to a statement issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas (USAO) on Thursday.
“While the nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, criminals see an opportunity to enrich themselves through fraudulent schemes,” warned Acting Special Agent in Charge Rodrick Benton of IRS – Criminal Investigation (CI) in the release.
“With the public’s awareness, we can combat these scammers and cease their exploitation of the American taxpayer during these trying times,” he stated.
The release explained that COVID-19 economic impact checks will be on their way from the IRS in “a matter of weeks. Most Americans will receive the check via direct deposit into their bank accounts. Those that did not identify a bank account on their tax returns will receive a paper check from the agency.
U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick wrote that the office wants people to be alert. “Do not give our personal information to people who claim they are with the government,” he warned.
“The IRS will NOT CALL and ask you to verify your payment details. Do NOT give out your bank account, debit account or PayPal account information – even if someone claims it’s necessary to get your check. IT’S A SCAM!” USAO wrote.
“If you receive a call, do NOT engage with scammers or thieves, even if you just want to tell them that you know it’s a scam or you think that you can beat them. Just HANG UP. If you receive texts or emails claiming you can get your money faster by sending personal information or clicking on links, DELETE them. Do NOT click on any links in those emails or texts,” officials warned.
Wells Fargo donating $70K to community groups providing virus relief
The Wells Fargo Foundation is donating $70,000 to CDC of Brownsville Inc., United Way of Southern Cameron County, and United Way of Northern Cameron County to support the community response to COVID-19 in Brownsville and Harlingen.
The funding will help deliver critical relief by providing these organizations with more support to address supplies, food, shelter, and basic needs.
“It’s important in times of community need that we all work together,” said Alma Ortega Johnson, region bank president for South Texas. “We’re grateful for the leadership of these organizations for their ability to act quickly in caring for our local residents. We hope our support provides a measure of relief as we stand with the community during this challenging situation.”
This donation is part of the $175 million in aid Wells Fargo announced in March to help address food, shelter, small business and housing stability, as well as provide help to public health organizations nationwide.
All parks closed in Harris County, Houston
Every park in Houston and Harris County is now closed for Easter amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier in the week, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo ordered the county’s parks close Friday ahead of the much-anticipated weekend, in which people typically flock to outdoor spaces like parks to celebrate the Christian holiday. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who initially said parks would remain open, reversed course and closed parks.
Dallas County commissioners on Thursday authorized close to $1 million in payments for two consultants to help the local government operate a pop-up hospital at the downtown convention center.
It is the first major expenditure the county has authorized in its efforts to combat the coronavirus. The total bill is expected to grow. But commissioners expect to recoup most of the county’s costs from the federal government.
Thursday’s vote awarded the engineering firm AECOM $250,000 for its services and its initial assessment of needs at the convention center hospital.
The Olson Group, an emergency management firm, will be paid about $740,000 for contract compliance. Its services, according to its contract proposal, will include ensuring that purchases made for the medical facility align with reimbursement requirements of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
-The Associated Press, The Texas Tribune, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle”Coronavirus in Texas 4/10: Austin creates $15 million relief fund; San Antonio loses $100 million in revenues” was first published at https://www.texastribune.org/2020/04/10/coronavirus-texas-410-more-10000-texans-have-tested-positive/ by The Texas Tribune.