News of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has created panic, a new emphasis on washing your hands and more. Seen as a more aggressive version of the flu, it is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person and was discovered earlier this year after an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
The spread of the virus in recent months has prompted cancellations of music festivals, conferences, events, a halt on international travel to certain locations overseas and more. As we learn more about the disease, we’ll be adding new links as it comes to vaccines, where cases have been reported in the area and more.
We’ve added additional facts as well as symptoms so you can be aware of how one can get the virus. Click here to read about the symptoms and what you need to in Spanish.
Here are the latest headlines and information regarding COVID in our area.
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.