COVID-19, a new coronavirus which began spreading rapidly in mid-March, has officially been considered a global pandemic. The number of cases in the United States but also here in Houston are growing by the day. Daily life has been disrupted, “social distancing” has become the norm and more.
Want to stay up to date with the latest information as it happens? Download our App in the App Store or the Google Play store to listen live on-air, subscribe to our newsletter as well as follow us on all social media: @PraiseHouston. Here is the latest news from around the Houston area and nationally.
UPDATES: April 1
9:44 AM: Houston Methodist is the first hospital in the nation to deliver a new coronavirus treatment involving plasma transfers. The concept, according to Houston Methodist, revolves around the idea that plasma from someone who has recovered from COVID-19 contains antibodies made by one’s immune system and is used to kill the virus. Transferring that antibody-rich plasma to someone who is currently fighting the disease may transfer the power of the antibodies into a healing, possibly life-saving therapy.
The number of individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 in the Greater Houston area eclipsed 100 as of Wednesday morning but the number of cases continues to grow. The tally now stands at 1,267 cases as Galveston reached over 100 confirmed cases overnight.
- Houston (377 cases, 4 deaths, 3 recoveries)
- Harris County (303 cases, 2 deaths, 61 recoveries)
- Fort Bend County (163 cases, 2 deaths, 9 recoveries)
- Galveston County (106 cases, 0 deaths, 21 recoveries)
- Brazoria County (95 cases, 1 death, 10 recoveries)
- Montgomery County (93 cases, 0 deaths, 14 recoveries)
UPDATES: March 31
2:35 PM: Governor Greg Abbott announced that Texas schools would be closed until May 4th, stay at home order in place for Texans until April 30.
1:13 PM: Judge Lina Hidalgo announced on Tuesday (Mar. 31) that she was extending Houston’s stay-at-home order until April 30th. According to a University of Texas School of Public Health analysis, the virus would burn out in the Houston area by mid-May if stay-at-home measures were to remain in place.
10:58 AM: COVID-19 testing is now available at all Legacy Health Clinics.
9:53 AM: Here’s what various local businesses are doing to help during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as local resources to help out with the kids, pets and more.
- Constellation Field in Sugar Land will serve as a drop-off location for personal protective equipment to be donated to Memorial Hermann beginning April 1.
- Wal-Mart is adjusting store hours for its store and neighborhood markets from 24 hours to be open from 6 AM to 11 PM. Additionally, they are making health-based changes for employees, stating that they will be given masks and gloves to wear and will also have their temperature checked. If their temperature is above 100 degrees, employees will be sent home.
- Studio Movie Grill has announced curbside pickup is available from select SMG locations between 11 AM and 8 PM, Monday thru Saturday. Click here for more details.
- Marcos Pizza is offering a buy one large or extra-large pizza and get one free medium pizza for delivery or carry out at participating locations with the code: APRILAPP during the week of April 6.
- Various kid activities are popping up across Houston. Check them out here.
- Source Vital is offering hand sanitizer.
- The Empty The Shelters initiative from The BISSELL Pet Foundation is looking for homes for pets to save during the COVID-19 crisis.
- If you are the victim of domestic abuse during the “Stay At Home/Work At Home” order, call the Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse hotline at 713-224-9911 or visit their website for more information. You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224. You can also text LOVEIS to 22522.
A shelter-in-place order has been issued for The Woodlands retirement community after 12 COVID-19 cases were confirmed overnight.
The World Health Organization released an app to inform individuals about global health information regarding the coronavirus and COVID-19. You can download it here.
UPDATES: March 30
The official number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the greater Houston area topped 1,000 as of Monday with 1,054 confirmed cases and 79 known recoveries. The number of deaths from COVID-19 has risen to 11.
- Houston (309 cases, 3 deaths, 3 recoveries)
- Harris County (254 cases, 2 deaths, 34 recoveries)
- Fort Bend County (138 cases, 2 deaths, 9 recoveries)
- Galveston County (92 cases, 0 deaths, 17 recoveries)
- Montgomery County (81 cases, 0 deaths, 11 recoveries)
- Brazoria County (79 cases, 1 death, 5 recoveries)
Fort Bend County opened its first government-supported testing site and you must be pre-screened before visiting: http://fbchealth.org/. Additionally, A new United Memorial Medical Center location has opened at Smart Financial Centre, according to US Rep. Shelia Jackson-Lee.
UPDATES: March 29
Donald Trump announced in a news conference on Sunday that the CDC guidelines in regards to social distancing have been extended to April 30, weeks after his initial proclamation that social distancing guidelines would ease up by Easter.
The number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase in the Houston-area as it nears 1,000 confirmed cases. On Sunday, health officials revealed that there were 922 confirmed cases, including eight confirmed deaths and 57 individuals who have recovered.
In the city of Houston, there are now a confirmed 286 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 240 in Harris County, 119 in Fort Bend County, 70 in Galveston, 65 in Montgomery, 61 in Brazoria and 44 in Brazos County.
Galveston County announced on Sunday the closure of beaches until April 5th.
UPDATES: March 28
4:27 PM In a news briefing on Saturday, Mayor Sylvester Turner revealed that after more tests had been conducted throughout the city and Harris County, an additional 53 individuals had tested positive for COVID-19 in Harris County, bringing the number to 213. In Houston proper, the number of COVID-19 has more than tripled as it currently stands that 232 individuals had tested positive and a second individual, a woman in her 60s, had passed away from the disease. The news brought the number of total cases in the Greater Houston area to 782.
“The numbers are going to rise as we do more testing,” Turner said. “We’re not surprised at all.”
The city has also opened its testing site to anyone with symptoms. People can call 832-393-4220 to start the screening process.
10:10 AM The number of COVID-19 cases in the Greater Houston area eclipsed 500 as of Saturday morning with the total sitting at 534. 25 more cases were confirmed in Harris County, bringing the official total there to 160, followed by Fort Bend County with 15 new cases (101 total), the city of Houston with no new cases (69 total), 13 new cases in Brazoria County (52 total), nine new cases in Galveston County (49 total) and six new cases in Montgomery County (47 total).
Of those 534 cases, 34 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, the majority in Harris County.
UPDATES: March 27
The number of COVID-19 cases in the Greater Houston area jumped to 461 as of Friday morning with the most notable cases including Scarface and ABC 13 anchor Chauncey Glover. 135 are in Harris County, 86 are in Fort Bend County, 69 in Houston, 41 in Montgomery County, 40 in Galveston County and 39 in Brazoria County.
A third death has been attributed to underlying symptoms, a 60-year-old woman in the Houston area. Of the number of cases, there have been 29 known recoveries.
On Friday, Donald Trump signed into law a $2 trillion stimulus package. Read more about the details of it here in regards to when checks will be mailed out, who gets checks and how much.
Essence Fest officially postponed its 2020 festival and is looking for a fall date.
UPDATES: March 26
The expansion in regards to testing facilities and care has led to a rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the Houston area. A day after the total eclipsed 300, there are now a confirmed 372 cases in the Houston area, predominately in Harris County with 119. The city of Houston has 66 cases, Fort Bend County has 56 cases, Brazoria County has 33 cases, Montgomery County has 31 cases and Galveston County has 27 cases.
- Memorial City Mall is hosting two blood drives this weekend – one on Friday and another on Saturday. The first Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center drive is scheduled from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, and the second is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
- Appointments are required in order to donate blood. Friday appointment information can be found here. Saturday appointment information can be found here.
- Organizers said the drive is considered essential under the Harris County stay-home-work-safe order.
Donald Trump granted a Major Disaster Declaration for Texas, which will expand the resources available to Texas and speed the state’s ability to robustly respond to the coronavirus.
The Real ID deadline, which was originally set for October 1, 2020 has now been pushed back to October 1, 2021. The Real ID, which allows you to board an airplane, is a federally mandated identification card that is similar to the current driver’s license but with a gold star on the card.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced plans for an executive order asking that those who fly into Texas from COVID-19 hot spot states such as New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut as well as the city of New Orleans to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
UPDATES: March 25
The number of COVID-19 cases in the Houston area jumped on Tuesday as cases are now closer to 300 total (282 overall) with the highest number of reported cases in Harris County (79), Houston (55) and Fort Bend County (44).
The Houston Independent School District announced that it is canceling food distribution for Thursday and Friday as coronavirus spread mitigation precautions intensify.
“The cancellation will remain in effect as the district re-evaluates its process for safely delivering this service to students and families,” school district officials wrote. “This is a difficult decision to make, but the safety of the community, staff, and volunteers is our top priority.”
Brazoria County became the latest county to announce a stay at home order in the region that began at 6 p.m. on Wednesday (Mar. 25).
For those with child care needs, these facilities will be open for those “essential employees” who are under “stay-at-home” orders:
- KinderCare of Forest Crossing
- The Goddard School at Houston’s Energy Corridor
- Creative Learning Academy in Sugar Land
- Creative Learning Academy in Rice Village
- Ivy Kids Early Learning Center – All Houston-area locations
- Children’s Lighthouse Bilingual Academy
- Primrose School of West Cinco Ranch
- Kiddie Academy – All 20 Houston-area locations
- Kids in Kare at Bear Creek
- Kids in Kare at Hobby Airport
- Kids-N-Kids Creations Daycare
- Kids R Kids of Lake Conroe
- Kids R Kids on Franz in Katy
- America’s Choice Childcare Center – All five Houston locations.
- Montessori Reggio Academy of Sugar Land
- Step By Step Christian School in Tomball
- Children’s Learning Center in Waller
- Kingdom Kids Learning Center on Dairy Ashford
- Precious Cargo Childcare Center in Katy (discount for emergency and medical personnel)
- Kids R Kids in Spring
- Childworks in Santa Fe and Texas City
- Kids World Learning Center
- Growth Academy
UPDATES: March 24
The number of COVID-19 cases in the Houston area inched closer to 200 as of Monday with the majority of known cases in Harris County (54), Fort Bend County (42), the city of Houston (24) and Montgomery County (22).
On Tuesday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Mayor Turner announced a Stay At Home-Work Safe Order which takes effect at 11:59 p.m. on March 24 and expires on April 3, 2020.
Fort Bend County Judge K.P. George announced a Stay At Home-Work Safe Order similar to that of Harris and Galveston Counties that will take effect at 11:59 p.m. on March 24 and expire on April 3, 2020.
UPDATES: March 23
The number of COVID-19 cases in the Houston area rose to 166 as of Sunday with a growing number in those who are recovering from the disease. Here’s the latest information:
- No shelter-in-place order has been made by Governor Greg Abbott, however, Dallas County is the first in the state to enact such a decree.
- Two new drive-thru testing sites have been opened in Harris County. For prescreening, people can go to ReadyHarris.org or call 832-927-7575. If testing is needed, the person will be given a unique ID number and directions to a testing site.
- A case-by-case breakdown of new individuals tested for COVID-19 shows that 4% of those tested were under 8 years old, 5% were between 10 to 18 years old, 18% were between 19 to 27 years old and 48% were between 28 to 45 years old.
- Galveston County announced a stay-at-home order on Monday evening – an announcement is set to take place on Tuesday with Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Mayor Sylvester Turner about a rumored stay-at-home shelter order for Harris County.
- Three HPD officers tested positive for coronavirus and are “doing well” according to Houston police chief Art Acevedo.
UPDATES: March 22
The official number of COVID-19 cases in the Houston-area rose to 150 on Saturday as more testing locations became available to the general public. Among the new cases are two Harris County Sherriff’s Office employees, a slew of individuals in the 20s and two children under the age of 10 who were exposed via a confirmed case.
Whole Foods is giving its hourly employees a $2-an-hour raise, slash its operating hours and provide older customers a special shopping hour as it works to support employees and keep their customers supplied with essentials during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Katy ISD is providing free meals to Katy ISD students from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the following locations:
- Bear Creek Elementary: 4815 Hickory Downs Dr, Houston, TX 77084
- Golbow Elementary: 3535 Lakes of Bridgewater Dr, Katy, TX 77449
- Hutsell Elementary: 5360 Franz Rd, Katy, TX 77493
- Mayde Creek Elementary: 2698 Greenhouse Rd, Houston, TX 77084
- Memorial Parkway Elementary: 21603 Park Tree Ln, Katy, TX 77450
- Paetow High School*: 23111 Stockdick School Road, Katy, TX 77493
- Schmalz Elementary*: 18605 Green Land Way, Houston, TX 77084
- Sundown Elementary: 20100 Saums Rd, Katy, TX 77449
- West Memorial Elementary: 22605 Provincial Blvd, Katy, TX 77450
- Williams Elementary: 3900 S. Peek Rd, Katy, TX 77450
- Tompkins High School: 4400 Falcon Landing Blvd, Katy, TX 77494
UPDATES: March 21
The official number of COVID-19 cases in the Houston-area rose to 117 with 7 people confirmed to be recovering from the virus. Two people are confirmed dead. Additional cases were announced in Montgomery County, Fort Bend County and Harris County. At the free testing center at United Memorial Medical Center, seven cases were confirmed and the individuals were notified by health officials.
Fort Bend County Judge KP George announced the order to close local businesses such as gyms, salons and other facilities beginning at 12:01 a.m. Saturday (Mar. 21)
“Gyms, fitness centers and other facilities that are used or intended to be used for any type of training, martial arts or sports shall close,” officials tweeted. “Hair and nail salons, spas, massage and tattoo parlors, movie theaters, game rooms and bingo halls shall close. Access to Fort Bend County facilities shall be limited to the public.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner urged the public to not listen to rumors on social media regarding a city-wide lockdown and to pay attention to news and reports from trusted media sources only.
“There is not going to be a lock-down, the city is not shutting down,” Mayor Turner announced during a Friday evening news conference. “There are only three people in the state of Texas who can make that decision, and that is the mayor, county judge, or governor. At this point, neither one has made the call. We are saying people should practice social distancing, wash their hands and use hand sanitizer.”
UPDATES: March 20
The official number of COVID-19 cases in the Houston-area rose to 89 with 7 people confirmed to be recovering from the virus. Two people are confirmed dead.
- There are four announced options for payment in regards to testing. Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city will open a testing facility at Butler Stadium though the price wasn’t disclosed. In order to be tested at Butler Stadium, you have to be: a health care worker and/or first responder to be tested on Friday. On Saturday, the site will be open to anyone 65 years old and older. On Sunday, the site will be open to anyone. You will have to go through a screening process online or over the phone before you get tested.
- The drive-thru testing operation at United Memorial Medical Center is free and is for those experiencing symptoms.
- Legacy Health has opened several satellite sites and the price varies due to your insurance provider.
- Next Level Urgent Care will begin drive-thru testing on Friday. If paying through your insurance, you’re looking at paying your co-pay. Without insurance, you’ll be paying a rate of $200.
Here’s an updated listing on where to get tested.
UPDATES: March 19
- Testing locations for COVID-19 are set to open beginning on Thursday at United Memorial Medical Center (510 West Tidwell), as well as three Legacy Health centers in the Fifth Ward area (3811 Lyons Ave.), Montrose (1415 California St.), and Southwest (6441 High Star). Testing hours begin at 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. and is for those individuals who feel they are feeling symptoms of COVID-19.
- The City of Houston has canceled all city-produced, sponsored and permitted events until April.
- The Houston Public Library will remain closed until the end of March.
UPDATES: March 18
- The number of coronavirus cases in the Houston area has grown to 62, including 1 death.
- The Galleria Mall, Katy Mills and Houston Premium Outlets are temporarily closing its doors to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, according to Simon Property Group.
- Simon Property Group announced the closure of all of its retail properties, including malls, premium outlets and mills across the U.S.
- The closure will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday until March 29.
UPDATES: March 17
- The governor of Texas has activated the National Guard to assist with coronavirus response in the state
- The White House is proposing a roughly $850 billion emergency stimulus to address the economic impact of the new coronavirus, according to sources.
- President Trump wants checks sent out to the public within two weeks.
- The Pentagon will be providing 5 million respirators and 2,000 ventilators
- The EU will ban most foreign travelers for 30 days to curb the spread of coronavirus
- Ohio’s primary election, originally scheduled to take place on Tuesday, has been postponed after the Ohio Department of Health issued an emergency health order.
- Disney postpones May releases, including ‘Black Widow’
- A Delta Air Lines flight from New York to Seattle was delayed after a passenger informed a flight attendant they had been exposed to someone who may have the virus.
- Wuhan, the Chinese city at the center of the outbreak, reported just one new case Tuesday. Officials there believe the worst of the crisis is over for China.
- Churchill Downs announced that The Kentucky Derby is being postponed from May to September.
UPDATES: March 17
A testing center for the coronavirus has opened in Southwest Houston.
The My Family Doctor clinic located on the 6400 block of HIlcroft Street near the Southwest Freeway has started drive-thru testing for the coronavirus. Per a Facebook post, the clinic is limited to supplies for coronavirus testing and will only be able to test visitors who are at high risk for the disease or those who meet the CDC criteria for testing. Testing will be done Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Harris County Public Health has revealed three new positive cases of COVID-19:
- A 40-50-year-old man, who lives in the Northwest quadrant of Harris County. Investigation is ongoing, including travel history
- A 40-50-year-old woman, who lives in the Southeast quadrant of Harris County. Investigation is ongoing, including travel history
- A 40-50-year-old man, who lives in the Northwest quadrant of Harris County. This individual has known contact with a positive COVID-19 case
Also, the Harris County Tax Office will be ceasing in-person transactions by using dropbox payment methods for property owners, Volunteer Deputy Voter Registrars, commercial customers, automobile dealers and title services beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
“All Harris County Tax Office locations will eliminate direct customer service transactions for the safety of our employees and the community,” Bennett said. “The Tax Office is not closed. Employees will continue to provide services to those who usually visit a Tax Office location by accepting transactions by drop box or mail. Customers are also encouraged to use the Tax Office website to conduct all other business.”
UPDATES: March 16
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that the state would be waiving the 2019-2020 STAAR Test, a day after the CDC recommended that gatherings of more than 50 people should cease for the next two months in order to curve the spread of coronavirus.
- Five Houston area malls have announced reduced hours in lieu of COVID-19: First Colony, Willowbrook, Baybrook, Deerbrook, and The Woodlands. The hours are now Monday thru Saturday noon to 7 p.m. and on Sundays from noon until 6 p.m.
- All bars and restaurants have been ordered to close for two weeks beginning at 8 a.m. on Tuesday with restaurants only allowing pickup, delivery and drive-through orders.
Gyms have also announced they will be temporarily closed as the country deals with COVID-19. Those to announce are:
- 24 Hour Fitness
- Gold’s Gym (company-owned locations)
- LA Fitness
- Lifetime Fitness
- Orangetheory Fitness
- Soulcycle (website does not show Texas closures; their official social media says all locations)
- YMCA – all locations across Houston
As of Mar. 16, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Houston area has risen to 29, including a woman who was confirmed with COVID-19 who recently visited the rodeo. There has been one confirmed death of coronavirus in Texas, a man in his 90s who passed away on March 16th.
UPDATES: MARCH 13
Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of emergency and said that drive-thru testing locations would be implemented across the state, including Dallas, Houston and more. Mayor Turner said that drive-thru locations in the Houston area would be open next week.
UPDATES: MARCH 12
The City of Houston announced on Thursday (Mar. 12) that they will not turn off the water of customers who are behind on their bills.
“Because we’re telling people to wash their hands, and it’s very difficult to do that, especially for those individuals who may have gotten behind on their water bills. Well, the city of Houston is not going to be disconnecting anybody’s water, whether it’s individuals or businesses,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said.
- The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is canceled for the remainder of the 2020 season.
- Tour De Houston is canceled.
- Bayou City Arts Festival is postponed.
- NCAA Tournament games at the Toyota Center are not open to the public.
- CERAWeek 2020 has been canceled.
- The McDonald’s Houston Children’s Festival has been postponed.
- Levy Park and the Levy Park Conservancy have canceled all events and programming through March 31, including the St. Patrick’s Day Festival and Spring Break.
- Alley Theatre cancels all performances and events through the end of March. Purchased tickets can be donated, exchanged, or refunded. Call box office for information.
- HISD has announced it is closed until April 10.
- Katy ISD is extending Spring Break another week.
- Texas City ISD is suspending classes next week (March 16-20).
- Galena Park ISD is closed for an additional week (March 16-20).
- Fort Bend Independent School District has announced it is canceling classes for the next two weeks. Additionally, they have announced they are offering Grab and Go meals at no cost to anyone 18 and under and to students without regards to age at a 11 campuses.
- The University of Houston is canceling classes next week. Campus will remain open but faculty/staff has open to work remotely. Classes will resume online on March 23.
- Montgomery ISD campuses and departments will close Thursday and Friday ahead of spring break.
- Saint Thomas’ Episcopal School in Meyerland is close for the next two weeks.
- Joy School in the Museum District is closed for the next two weeks.
- Texas A&M has suspended classes until March 18.
- Rice University has canceled in-person classes and is not hosting events for more than 100 people.
- The University of Houston Downtown is suspending all classes from March 16-22, and students should not go to the campus. All course-related activities scheduled between March 23 and April 4 will be conducted online. By April 4, UHD will assess whether to continue conducting instruction online.
- The University of Houston-Clear Lake classes will not be held from March 16 – 21. Beginning March 23, classes will be offered remotely until further notice.
- The University of Houston-Victoria and UHV Katy will start its spring break early at noon March 12. Spring break begins March 16.
- Prairie View A&M suspended classes until March 23.
- The University of St. Thomas has canceled classes beginning noon March 12 and will resume online on March 23.
- Lone Star College is extending Spring Break and will not resume classes until Monday, March 23.
- Houston Community College is extending Spring Break by two additional days and will not resume until March 25.
- Houston Baptist University will not hold residential classes for the week of March 16-21. Online classes will continue as scheduled. The residential class schedule will resume remotely (online or alternative format) beginning March 23 until further notice.
- Galena Park ISD classes, activities, events, etc. have been canceled from March 16-22. All campuses, transportation services, and the Administration Building will be closed.
- Harris County District Clerk cancels jury duty from March 13-20.
- Spring ISD schools will be closed March 16 – March 20.
- Waller ISD schools and offices closed March 16 – 20.
- Sheldon ISD will be closed March 16 – 20.
- Lamar CISD will be closed March 16 – 20.
- Channelview ISD will be closed March 16 – 22.
- Dickinson ISD will be closed March 16 – 20.
More cancellations will be added as they are announced.