The number of global coronavirus cases has doubled since last week. By Wednesday afternoon, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center had confirmed 932,605 cases and 46,809 deaths worldwide.
In the United States, cases have more than tripled in the last week and deaths have increased more than five times the previous week’s count. There have been at least 207,694 cases of the coronavirus confirmed by lab tests and 4,651 deaths, according to The New York Times. The Texas Department of Health and Human Services has reported an increase in cases—rising from 974 cases last week to 3,997 cases and 58 fatalities statewide on Wednesday.
Texas Governor Abbott orders schools to remain closed
Governor Greg Abbott responded to the continuing spread of COVID-19 in Texas during a Tuesday afternoon news conference, ordering that all Texas schools will remain closed through May 4, 2020, at the earliest.
Abbott reported that 42,922 Texans had been tested for the coronavirus on Tuesday, and that 3,266 had been confirmed positive, and 41 deaths have been reported. By late Wednesday, the number of confirmed cases was poised to top 4,000, and fatalities had risen to 58.
“Here in Canadian ISD, we will continue to provide remote instruction,” said CISD Superintendent Lynn Pulliam in a statement released later Tuesday afternoon. “As much as possible, we want to handle learning activities and communication through online, email, and phone. For those students who do not have access to dependable internet or cell coverage, we want to practice all precautionary measures such as social distancing, frequent hand washing, and using gloves to handle materials whenever possible.”
“Our campuses have established guidelines for picking up materials with minimal person to person interaction,” Dr. Pulliam said, adding, “If you have any questions, please contact the campus principal.”
Governor Abbott said Texans are expected to limit interactions, while also still having the freedoms to conduct business, such as going to the grocery store or bank. He stressed that this was not a stay-at-home or shelter-inplace order, and said that domestic travel is still allowed.
The following business sectors are considered “essential services,” according to Gov. Abbott’s advisory memorandum on essential critical infrastructure workers during the COVID-19 response:
•Healthcare and Public Health
•Law Enforcement, Public Safety and other first responders
•Food and Agriculture
•Water and Wastewater
•Transportation and Logistics
•Public Works and Infrastructure Support Services
•Communications and Information Technology
•Other Community or Government-Based Operations and essential functions
•Defense Industrial Base
•Residential/Shelter Facilities and Services
•Hygiene Products and Services
•Religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship.
•Other services as approved by the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
A list of allowed essential businesses is also posted online at www.tdem.texas.gov/essentialservices.
Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases grows in Texas Panhandle
Officials in both Pampa and Donley County and have confirmed the first positive cases of COVID-19 in their communities, bringing to 50 the number of confirmed cases reported in the Texas Panhandle.
The first confirmation came Tuesday afternoon and was reported by The Clarendon Enterprise. Donley County Judge John Howard announced that he had received written notification from a private lab that there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a resident of that county. A second case was confirmed on Wednesday.
The second confirmation was made shortly after 8 pm yesterday, Tuesday, March 31, when the Texas Department of State Health Services notified authorities of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Gray County.
Thus far, confirmed cases have been reported in the following Panhandle counties:
Gray County: 1
Moore County: 1
Swisher County: 1
Potter and Randall counties: 33
Castro County: 8
Deaf Smith County: 2
Oldham County: 2
Donley County: 2
The investigation into the Donley County case is ongoing, according to The Clarendon Enterprise, which reported that the health department would follow up on people and locations the patient may have been in contact with while ill. “It is believed that the infected individual contracted the virus from community spread (person to person contact contamination),” the Enterprise reported, “and has not reported any significant travel.”
While no information about the patient’s condition could be released, the patient was immediately quarantined at home, and remains under medical supervision.
The investigation into the Pampa case is still underway. Details were expected to be released today.
Health officials in both communities stressed the need to continue following the CDC recommendations for social distancing and eliminating non-essential activity outside the home, even if you are well. Avoid groups of people, practice good hand washing and sanitizing practices, and if you are feeling ill, stay home and self-isolate, avoid others in your home, as well.
If you have symptoms consistent with the coronavirus, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, please contact your health care provider to determine if additional evaluation, treatment or testing is appropriate.
In addition, health care professionals around the world are reporting that many of the patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 have also reported a loss of taste or smell.
Following first COVID-19 death, Amarillo enacts shelter-in-place orders
The Amarillo-area Coronavirus Status Alert was elevated to Level Red on Monday, following the Amarillo Public Health Department’s first report of a death due to COVID-19. The order took effect at 11:59 pm on Monday, March 30.
After upgrading its COVID-19 status to Level Red, the city of Amarillo ordered all non-essential businesses to close, and asked citizens to shelter in place for the next two weeks to help stop the virus’ spread. In a press conference on Monday, Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson said the order requires citizens to stay home except for vital tasks, like going to the grocery store and doctor’s appointments, and caring for loved ones. If it is necessary to leave the home, citizens were advised to ensure at least six feet of distance from others.
Both Canyon and Potter County issued the same orders later in the day. The city of Hereford and Deaf Smith County announced plans to issue stay-at-home orders as well.
Amarillo Police issued a clarification on how they would be enforcing the stay-at-home order. “It is important to know that APD will not be stopping pedestrians or vehicles solely to investigate violations of the order,” the clarification said. “Any stops that the Amarillo Police Department conducts will be for on-view violations based on probable cause, just as they would prior to all COVID-19 measures.”