COVID-19 Live Updates: Many Parks Across Texas Closed For Easter Weekend

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 11,1483 cases and 223 deaths have been reported across the state. In North Texas: Cases in Dallas County: 1,432; Tarrant: 637; Collin: 406; Denton County: 426. There have been at least 55 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.

Many Parks Across Texas Closed For Easter Weekend

Several cities and counties have decided to close parks this weekend to fend off Easter holiday overcrowding, including the city of Dallas. Texas is doing the same — closing all state parks and historical sites until further notice.

All parks in Dallas will close at 9 p.m. tonight for the weekend Several officials will monitor the parks, including park rangers, police, and code enforcement workers.

“We’ve already seen an increase in the use of our parks now that the weather’s gotten better, and that gyms are closed, and that our stay-at-home orders are in effect, and people are trying to find a place to go to get some exercise and some fresh air,” Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said at a press conference Thursday. “We figured that we’d see considerably more people in our parks this weekend.”

City officials say digital message boards at the parks will warn people about the closures. Trails remain open, though officials say people should follow social distancing guidelines. Parks will reopen Monday morning.

Fort Worth is closing vehicle access to many of its parks on Sunday. Texas did not give a date for when state parks will reopen.

Dallas County Inmates Sue Over Conditions

The Dallas Morning News reports nine Dallas County jail inmates plan to sue over alleged unsafe conditions at the facility because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The lawsuit seeks release of all inmates older than 50, as well as those with underlying health conditions that could make them more vulnerable to COVID-19. 

The inmates also want to guarantee the jail ensures inmates can maintain social distancing, and that they have access to supplies, such as soap and face masks, to prevent spread of the virus.

There have been 29 inmates at the Dallas County Jail and two detention officers have tested positive for the virus.

Dallas Schools Change How Grades Are Calculated Due To Pandemic Closures

Because of the switch to online learning during the coronavirus outbreak, the Dallas school district’s changing how it will calculate grades for students this semester. 

The Dallas Morning News reports the changes amount to a pass/fail system. 

Grade averages and class rankings for high school students will be based on the first semester’s averages.

Dallas ISD will use numeric grades for the current semester but only to determine whether a student gets credit for a course or gets promoted to the next grade.

Dallas County Commissioners Approve $1 Million In Contracts For Pop-Up Hospital

Dallas County Commissioners on Thursday approved nearly $1 million in contracts to help the county provide wrap-around services at a pop-up hospital in the works for people recovering from COVID-19. That would include security, food, laboratory and transportation services.

The 250-bed facility is located at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in downtown Dallas, but it’s not housing patients yet.

One contract is with the engineering firm AECOM, which has helped set up temporary hospitals in other cities. Another contract is with the Olson Group, an emergency management firm.

Dallas Mayor Creates Economic Recovery Task Force

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson on Thursday announced he’s forming a task force focused on economic recovery from COVID-19.

He picked Richard W. Fisher to lead the group. Fisher’s the former President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

In a statement, Fisher said that until COVID-19, Dallas had been leading the nation in job creation, and that the city is well-positioned to lead the country in economic recovery.

The mayor said the task force is aimed at exploring solutions that are beyond the scope of city government.

Collin County Reports 6th Death, 28 New Cases 

Collin County Public Health reported its sixth death and 28 new cases, bringing the total case count to 406. 

The sixth death was a 53-year-old Dallas man who died Wednesday in a local hospital. He suffered from underlying health conditions. 

Denton County Announces Two Additional Deaths, 28 New Cases

Denton County Public Health announced two more deaths and 28 additional COVID-19 cases, bringing the total case count in the county to 426. 

The eighth death was a female resident of Lewisville in her 50s and the ninth death was a male resident of Lewisville in his 70s. Both were previously reported hospitalized with cases of community spread. 

Dallas County Reports 108 Additional Cases, 2 More Deaths

Dallas County Health and Human Services is reporting 108 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the county to 1,432. 

The agency is also reporting two additional deaths from the disease. One person was a long-term care facility resident in his 80s who had been in hospice care, the other was a DeSoto man in his 70s who had been hospitalized. 

There have now been 22 deaths from the disease in the county.

Officials report of cases requiring hospitalization, about three-quarters (70%) have been either over 60 years of age or have had at least one known high-risk chronic health condition. They say diabetes has been reported in over a quarter (29%) of all hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

Tarrant County Confirms Another COVID-19 Death

Tarrant County Public Health is reporting that a Fort Worth woman in her 69s has died from COVID-19. According to a statement from county health officials, the woman had underlying health conditions.

Tarrant County now has a total of 20 confirmed deaths from the virus. Officials say 61 people have recovered from the disease.

8th Dallas Police Officer Tests Positive For COVID-19

The Dallas Police Department is confirming that another officer has tested positive for COVID-19. According to a statement from the department, the officer worked in the property room at DPD headquarters, and their last day on the job was March 24. 

Officials said the employee was tested for COVID-19 on April 4 and received the test results yesterday. 

The officer will remain home for 14 days or more until cleared to return to duty by the department’s medical team medical team. DPD said those who may have come in contact with the officer have consulted with the department’s medical team, and the specific area where the officer worked was sprayed and sanitized by a professional contactor on Tuesday.

This is the 8th officer confirmed to have contracted the virus.

Salvation Army of North Texas Offers Drive-Through Groceries, Financial Assistance 

The Salvation Army of North Texas is offering drive-through grocery pick up and financial assistance for families in need.

The organization has 13 drive-through grocery pick up locations in Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis and Tarrant counties. It is also providing financial assistance to help families pay rent or mortgage payments, maintain utility service and purchase prescription medicines.

Texas Tops 10,000 Cases

As of Thursday morning the number of COVID-19 cases in texas reached over 10,000, and at least 193 people in the state have died from the virus. 

Over 2,600 cases of the disease have been confirmed in North Texas and at least 51 people in the area have died from the disease.

There have been over 400,000 cases reported across the U.S.

Possible COVID-19 Death In Texas Prison

A 72-year-old has become the first Texas prison inmate reported as a possible COVID-19 death.

Bartolo Infante died Tuesday at the Telford Unit. The criminal justice department yesterday said he suffered from numerous pre-existing medical conditions and was hospitalized under isolation in Texarkana for viral pneumonia after testing positive for COVID-19.

Four Telford Unit employees have tested positive for the illness and are under self-quarantine, while seven offenders have been confirmed as infected.

The Telford Unit is under medical restriction, and 15 state prisons in all have been locked down after inmates or staff tested positive for COVID-19.

A 49-year-old state corrections officer died Monday after testing positive for COVID-19 while hospitalized for a heart condition.

Legal Fight Continues Over Texas’ Pandemic Abortion Ban

A legal fight continues over whether to allow abortions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Planned Parenthood and other clinics yesterday told a judge they’re now only seeking to allow abortions in some cases after a federal appeals court sided with the state’s ability to ban abortions during the outbreak.

Texas bans most abortions after 20 weeks.

Similar legal fights are being waged in Alabama, Ohio, Oklahoma and Iowa.

Governor Abbott, HHS Announce Federal Approval Of Emergency SNAP Benefits

Wednesday, the governor announced federal approval of $168 million in emergency SNAP benefits to support Texans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Texas Health and Human Services Commission received federal approval to provide the maximum allowable amount of SNAP benefits to recipients based on family size.

The emergency allotments are authorized for April and May and will affect all SNAP recipients in the state.

Beneficiaries will see the additional amount on their Lone Star Cards by April 15 for this month’s benefits. May’s benefits will be available by May 15.

Arts Grantmakers Launch National COVID-19 Relief Fund

A national coalition of arts funders have launched a $10 million fund to help artists struggling financially during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Artists in North Texas and across the United States and U.S. territories can apply now for an unrestricted emergency $5,000 grant from Artist Relief.

Applicants must be 21 years or older and have lived in the U.S. for the past two years or more.

Read the full story from Miguel Perez with Art&Seek.

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

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