Houston coronavirus updates: April 19, 2020

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10:11 p.m. Harris County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Raymond Scholwinski, 70, was one of thousands of county residents to contract the new coronavirus. He was taken to a hospital and transferred to an ICU.  For the last five days, he has remained in critical, but stable, condition.

It marks a significant improvement over when he first entered the hospital, his wife said. The Chronicle’s St. John Barned-Smith has the full story. 

8:29 p.m. The statewide COVID-19 case total rose from 18,808 to 19,371. That’s an increase of 563 cases (2.99% increase). Nineteen new deaths makes a total of 495 statewide (4.0% increase). The Houston region’s count is 6,844, up 218 from yesterday (3.29% increase). Harris County added 170 new cases today (3.65% increase) and is now at 4,823 cases total. There have been 120 deaths in the Houston region, up 11 from yesterday.

6:08 p.m. Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Sunday that he plans to name a “recovery leader” to oversee Houston’s reopening.

The announcement will be made during the city’s regular 3 p.m. briefing about COVID-19, according to city spokeswoman Mary Benton. She declined to identify the person hired for the position ahead of the announcement, but she said the position offers “broad discretion” to lead the recovery effort.

She said the position will be paid through a mix of public and private funds, but she could not yet offer specifics.

The person’s primary responsibility will be “looking at how to reopen safely in a responsible way, and making sure that no one is left behind,” she said.

5 p.m. Galveston County Health District announced five new positive COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths on Sunday.

Both victims died April 18. One was a man between the ages of 61 and 70 who had pre-existing medical conditions. The other was a woman in the same age range who also suffered from pre-existing conditions, officials said.

The county’s case tally is 455. Total recovered remains at 193.

4:05 p.m. Harris County Public Health announced 40 new COVID-19 cases, along with one additional death.

The victim was a man between 30 and 40 years old with underlying health conditions. Harris County’s total case tally is 4,823, including cases in Houston.  A total of 75 Harris County residents have died.

2:54 p.m. The death toll from COVID-19 in Houston has risen to 34, the city’s health department tweeted Sunday.

All three victims had underlying health conditions and died on Apr. 16. Two were black men in their 70s, and another was a white man in his 90s.

There are 130 new cases in Houston, bringing the total up to 2,821 in the city.

1:54 p.m. Texas’ number of coronavirus cases has climbed again, with 18,923 confirmed cases reported to state health officials as of early Sunday afternoon.

Today we report 130 new cases of #COVID19, bringing the total in #Houston to 2,821. We sadly also report three additional deaths, all with underlying health conditions, increasing the city’s total deaths to 34. (1/3)@HoustonTX @HoustonOEM @houmayor @hcphtx @ReadyHarris #Hounews pic.twitter.com/QF9AdD00OM

— Houston Health Dept (@HoustonHealth) April 19, 2020

At least 1,471 people in the state have been hospitalized due to complications stemming from the illness.

1:25 p.m. Chronicle photographer Elizabeth Conley shoots photos of press conferences, hospitals, test sites, people at home, and more. Her camera captures the front lines of the pandemic every day.

But she’s also trying to figure out how to navigate her interactions by herself.

“The randomness in the people I meet in a day is something in my job I value and love, but now it puts me at risk,” Conley writes. “What keeps me up at night is knowing that when I do get sick, I’ll be dealing with it alone.”

12:39 p.m. You know what life is like cooped up in your home, with kids and pets underfoot as you attend Zoom meeting after meeting. One of Houston’s ICU nurses breaks down 12 hours of her life working in a COVID-19 intensive care unit.

11:48 a.m. The introduction of a zip code heat map for COVID-19 cases raised questions about the communities with the highest rates of infection. Reporter Elliott Lapin talks to Harris County Pct. 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia on what this means for testing sites and attempts to flatten the curve in his corner of the county.

10:15 a.m. Houston’s two coronavirus testing sites are closed Sunday due to inclement weather, the Houston Health Department announced.

People granted codes to visit the sites should use them on Monday, the department said.

9:55 a.m. Testing sites for Harris County were closed Sunday morning as a swath of stormy weather passed over the Houston region, officials said.

JUST IN: Houston’s two community based testing sites are closed today (Sunday, April 19) due to inclement weather. People with authorization codes for today should use them on Monday, April 20. @HoustonTX @HoustonOEM @houmayor @hcphtx @ReadyHarris #covid19 #hounews pic.twitter.com/nhsI8QUs3i

— Houston Health Dept (@HoustonHealth) April 19, 2020

As thunder rolled over the region, Harris County Public Health officials said appointments for both sites, one at Stallworth Stadium in Baytown and another at Legacy Stadium in Katy, would be pushed back to Monday.

On Saturday, both county sites were shut down early because of rain, the Chronicle’s Nicole Hensley reports.

9:42 a.m. Hurricane Harvey hit mixed-use Kings Harbor development hard — it flooded the lake-side businesses and apartment complexes with several feet of water.

Almost three years later, the businesses are dealing with the fallout of the novel coronavirus, another threat outside of their control, reporter Savannah Mehrtens writes.

8:00 a.m. As of Sunday morning, there are now 2,345,633 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.  In the U.S., the total confirmed cases now stand at 735,287, with the death toll rising to 39,090. There are 66,819 cases of total recoveries from COVID-19 in the U.S.

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