State and federal officials are working to keep residents informed as they continue working to protect Americans from Coronavirus.
According to the Center for Disease Control, coronaviruses are common throughout the world and can infect people and animals.
The World Health Organization has now qualified the coronavirus as an international pandemic. And says the large family of viruses can cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe conditions.
A novel coronavirus is a new strain and has not been previously identified in humans.
Like the flu, people with severe chronic medical conditions and who are over the age of sixty are at a higher risk of getting sick and developing more severe conditions.
Federal and state officials are working continuously to ensure outbreaks do not occur in U.S. communities.
The following updates are only intended to keep Texas communities informed.
Not only for your protection but the safety of others, please follow this list of guidelines
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then wash your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Updated on Tuesday, March 18, 2020, at 12:05 PM
The case count numbers below are released by the Texas Department of State Health Services
SPECIAL NOTE: According to DSHS the numbers reported by Texas HHS may differ from what’s being reported at the local level for two reasons;
- Local jurisdictions receive the initial laboratory results and may report them publicly before reporting those cases to DSHS or
- Some jurisdictions may report cases diagnosed or treated in their area, even if the person lives in another county.
Can’t see the whole table? Touch it and scroll right.
Total People Tested in Texas
1Includes lab reports from ARUP Laboratories, Cerna Labs, LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics. Additional providers are testing.
Texas COVID-19 Cases1
|Total Statewide Cases||83|
1See totals by county below.
*Includes lab reports from ARUP Laboratories, LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics. Additional providers are testing.
|County of Residence2||Number of Cases3|
|Pending County Assignment||1|
1DSHS will update the state case count each day by 10 a.m. Central Time.
2Patient may be undergoing treatment in facilities in other counties.
3Does not include repatriation cases.
TXDOT Taking COVID-19 Action To Keep Employees And Public Safe
AUSTIN — TxDOT is acting to help reduce the risk of COVID-19. On Friday and over the weekend the department took several steps to protect the public and TxDOT employees.
At the same time, TxDOT remains committed to delivering services to its customers all over the Lone Star State.
Given the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to cancel gatherings of 50 or more people and the request from President Donald Trump to avoid gatherings larger than 10 people, TxDOT is postponing or canceling its in-person public hearings and gatherings through April 3.
That date is subject to change.
This excludes the Texas Transportation Commission meeting on March 26, 2020, which will be addressed separately. When possible TxDOT will look to offer virtual participation strategies for public input.
Work on projects to improve our transportation system continues, as does TxDOT’s ongoing work to maintain and operate our state’s transportation system, to include ferry operations.
TxDOT has closed the lobbies of its 12 Travel Information Centers until further notice to help combat the threat of COVID-19.
Outside restrooms will remain available at all times and will be regularly cleaned between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The safety rest areas on highways throughout the state remain open. These provide important rest stops for drivers.
Travelers can also still speak with our center counselors about road conditions or travel information between 8 a.m.and 5 p.m. Anyone can call 1-800-452-9292 or visit drivetexas.org to obtain road condition information 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
As awareness is key, on Saturday, March 14, TxDOT began sharing safety messages on its digital highway signs throughout the state. These messages include, “Give Xtra Space, With Each Other, And On The Road” and “Hands Clean, 2 Beat Covid-19, Be on TX Team.” These are short, easy to read messages to help reinforce the importance of preventing the spread of the virus.
In conjunction with Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s disaster declaration related to COVID-19, TxDOT is also requiring its office-based employees to telework beginning March 16.
Teleworking has been an option for TxDOT office-based employees for several years now, and with this temporary new directive, TxDOT will continue serving the state’s transportation needs.
TxDOT’s number one priority is always safety, and the agency is in constant contact with state health and emergency management officials to do its part during this global health situation.
Visit the COVID-19 website of the Texas Department of State Health Services at https://www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/ for the most up to date information and guidance from state health officials.
HHS Encourages Texans to Apply Online for Benefits
Agency Takes Protective Measures for Staff and the Public
AUSTIN – Texas Health and Human Services are encouraging Texans to submit benefit applications and other paperwork online at YourTexasBenefits.com or via the Your Texas Benefits mobile app to reduce foot traffic in the state’s more than 250 eligibility offices.
“As Texans, we must all do what we can to get through this pandemic together,” said Wayne Salter, HHS Deputy Executive Commissioner for Access & Eligibility Services. “We hope to reduce the number of Texans using office services and ask that if you can conduct your business online to please do so at this time.”
HHS administers assistance programs such as Medicaid, SNAP food benefits, TANF cash assistance, and WIC. Applying online will minimize the potential for staff and public exposure to COVID-19 while allowing staff to maximize the number of applications they can screen and approve during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Although office locations will remain open at this time, Texans are encouraged to apply for or renew their benefits through YourTexasBenefits.com. Through the website or the mobile app, Texans can:
- Create a new account;
- Find their username on an existing account;
- Upload files;
- Update phone number;
- Report changes.
All visitors are highly encouraged to use the hand sanitizer stations placed in state offices. Individuals with symptoms indicating COVID-19 should not visit an HHS eligibility office. These symptoms have been identified as fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
HHS offices are not COVID-19 testing sites. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please contact your local medical provider.
The Your Texas Benefits mobile app can be downloaded at your mobile carrier’s app store. People with questions about using the website or mobile app, including those who have special needs, should dial 2-1-1 and select option 2.
For questions about SNAP, TANF, Medicaid or CHIP, dial 2-1-1 and select option 2. To check benefit amounts, recipients can visit YourTexasBenefits.com or call the Lone Star Help Desk at 1-800-777-7EBT (1-800-777-7328).
Governor Abbott Holds Video Call With State Hospitals To Discuss Care Capacities For COVID-19
Announces temporary waiver for hospitals to increase unused bed capacity
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today held a call with hospital CEOs and representatives across Texas to provide an update on care capacities as COVID-19 response continues.
On the call, the Governor and hospital representatives discussed the supply, staffing, and bed capacities of hospitals to ensure care providers have the support they need to assist patients. They also discussed strategies to further increase these capacities.
The Governor provided an update on Texas’ testing capabilities, and announced a survey on capacity needs for hospital networks so that state agencies can ensure adequate resources are continuously provided.
The Governor also announced a temporary waiver for hospitals to increase unused bed capacity without submitting an application or associated fees.
This precautionary measure will help ensure Texas hospitals across the state have adequate care capacity for patients.
“Our hospitals and medical professionals are on the front lines of providing important care to Texans in need, and the state is working closely with networks and administrators to ensure they have the resources and capabilities to respond to COVID-19,” said Governor Abbott. “By working to expand hospital bed capacity, as well as meet staffing and equipment needs, Texas is ensuring our hospitals are able to care for those who contract COVID-19, while maintaining normal health care operations. Additionally, expanding testing capabilities will help the state respond to COVID-19 in an efficient and proactive manner. We remain committed to working alongside medical professionals to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and I thank our hospital leaders and staff for their tireless work to protect the health and safety of all Texans.”
The following statutes have been waived:
General and Special Hospitals: 25 TAC §133.26(b)-(d)
Health and Safety Code §241.025
Under this suspension, facilities may use unlicensed patient beds inpatient treatment areas to address any potential surge capacity. Fees will not be assessed for temporary patient beds in association with the COVID-19 disaster.
The Governor also announced that Texas this week will receive an initial 15,000 testing kits from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that will be disbursed throughout the state to public and private entities providing testing.
This allotment of tests is in addition to the robust testing capabilities already announced by Governor Abbott yesterday. By Friday, the state estimates that Texas will be able to perform 10,000 COVID-19 tests per week.
CEOs and representatives from the following hospitals and hospital systems were on the call: