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Texas virus death toll escalates

April 0305:31 AM
 

Fatalities quadruple in a week, to 70, mirroring national trends.  The Texas coronavirus death toll has nearly quadrupled over the last week, mirroring the rise in fatalities nationally, according to the latest data from the Texas Department of State Health Services.  The number of statewide fatalities related to COVI D19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, jumped to 70 on Thursday. State health authorities reported the death toll at 58 on Wednesday. It was just 18 one week ago.  The rapid rise comes after Gov. Greg Abbott followed the lead of dozens of local leaders Tuesday when he ordered Texans to stay at home except for errands considered essential — trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, bank or restaurants for take-out, for example — and for exercise.  (03) view article arw

The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District reported four new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the McLennan County total to 48.  At least three local educators have tested positive for the disease, including G.W Carver Middle School Principal Phillip Perry, 49, who died in a Waco hospital Tuesday morning. He was the first McLennan County resident to die of causes related to COVID-19.  Six patients have been hospitalized, with five in critical condition, which is no change from Tuesday, the health district announced in a press release. Twelve of the 48 have recovered.  A Midway Independent School District principal, along with a Connally Independent School District teacher and his wife are among the 48 McLennan County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19.   (2) view article arw

He also said that schools would remain closed until at least May 4 as the state increases its efforts to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.  Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday told Texans to stay at home for the next month unless they are taking part in essential services and activities, announcing a heightened statewide standard to stem the spread of the new coronavirus. He also announced that schools would remain closed until at least May 4.  During a news conference at the Texas Capitol, Abbott declined to call his latest executive order a shelter-in-place or stay-at-home order, arguing such labels leave the wrong impression and that he wants Texans to know, for example, they can still go to the grocery store. But in an interview afterward, he said "it's a fact" that the executive order nonetheless brings Texas up to speed with states that have issued orders with those labels.   (01) view article arw

Veteran journalist Andrea Gabor writes that students and schools are not ready for the sudden transition to online learning.  Gabor writes:  Online instruction has arrived overnight in U.S. schools. And nobody’s ready for it.  The problem isn’t just that school systems shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic suddenly face the huge challenge of improvising home-schooling routines on an unimagined scale. Students everywhere lack access to online tools. view article arw

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - Central Heights ISD has issued a letter to parents after a food-service worker tested positive for COVID-19. According to the letter, the employee was one of the workers preparing meals for daily distribution as recent as March 25. Once the school received notification of the positive test, all meal service was suspended.  “In the event that you or a family member retrieved a meal from the CHISD meal pickup line in the last 14 days, you should adhere to the following protocol at this time: monitor your temperature twice a day for the next 14 days,” the letter states. view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Continuing its series of live stream Q&As with Texas leaders about the coronavirus response in the state, the Texas Tribune is focusing on education Thursday morning. App users, tap here to watch the stream. FULL COVERAGE: The latest coronavirus news in Austin, Texas, the United States and the world  Texas Tribune public education reporter Aliyya Swaby spoke to LaTonya Goffney, the superintendent of Aldine ISD in Harris County. They will discuss the affect school closures have on parents, students and teachers and how schools are addressing these challenges. view article arw

Schools across America have been closed for weeks now amid a crisis over the spread of a deadly coronavirus, and nobody knows yet when they will be allowed to reopen. At least one-fifth of states are planning to stay closed for the rest of the 2019-20 school year, but nobody knows how the virus will affect the population in the fall when the new academic year is supposed to begin.  Today’s crisis is unprecedented in its effects on the country’s institutions, population and economic, with much of public life stopped. But schools have closed before because of a viral pandemic in different cities, and students were sent home to do distance learning. view article arw

RAYMONDVILLE — In seven days, coronavirus cases have begun multiplying in sparsely populated Willacy County.  On Thursday, the state health department confirmed two new cases of the COVID-19 virus, driving the county’s total number to four cases during the last week.  Meanwhile, Frank Torres, the county’s emergency management coordinator, urged residents to stay home to comply with federal and local shelter-in-place orders mandating residents to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus. view article arw

The number of Houstonians and others in the region with COVID-19 continued to climb Thursday, a trend health experts anticipate will continue for weeks if not months until social distancing efforts — hopefully — offer a reprieve.  Local officials remained optimistic that those efforts are proving effective, even if the rising numbers don’t show it yet.  Standing outside a testing center, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said she hoped that Houston would provide an example for the country and escape the worsening fates of New York City and New Orleans, where spikes in cases are beginning to overwhelm healthcare systems. view article arw

America’s stumbling rollout of testing for the virus that causes COVID-19 significantly slowed the nation’s response.  In the past week, testing has accelerated, and a mix of public and private labs execute more than 100,000 tests per day. Still, experts said, the nation’s patchwork testing system remains uneven, many are denied tests or must wait several days for results as labs struggle to process a growing backlog of tests. “It’s not as if it’s a train running along, as you might’ve heard,” said William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University School of Medicine professor of preventive medicine and an infectious-disease doctor. “Because testing is restricted still in many parts of the country.” view article arw

LAREDO, TX (KGNS) - Since the coronavirus pandemic has suspended classes all across the nation, a local school district is making sure students don’t miss out on educational instruction.  United ISD has set-up two different dates for parents of elementary school students to pick-up instructional materials and workbooks.  On Wednesday morning parents from Alexander High School lined-up to pick up the needed materials for their kids to complete their schoolwork. view article arw

Wash your hands and minimize your contact with people, Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta urged as Brazoria County announced another 14 people who contracted COVID-19.  With 123 county residents infected, the virus is spreading rapidly and the judge remains hopeful residents will get the message, he said.  “People need to get better about distancing, that’s just the facts,” Sebesta said. “I’m practicing what I’m preaching.” view article arw

Medical workers all over the world are on the front line of defense in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19. In order to make a difference in Angelina County, Lufkin Independent School District’s science department donated eight goggle sanitizers to Woodland Heights Medical Center. view article arw

While the availability of testing for coronavirus has increased in recent weeks, it’s still by no means easy to get tested in Bexar County.  Health officials continue prioritizing who gets tested based on a fairly strict set of standards, and it’s not known how many tests are being conducted.  The initial confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county were travel-related, but local health officials have categorized recent cases as having been transmitted from person-to-person in the community. Until testing becomes more widely available, only residents with specific symptoms or in certain occupations qualify. Below are answers to some commonly asked questions about coronavirus testing: view article arw

As we enter the month of April, Shelbyville ISD would like to share several important items associated with our plans to deal with the coronavirus situation.  SCHOOL CLOSURE AND COVID-19 INFORMATION  Governor Abbott has extended the closure of all Texas schools until May 4, 2020. As a result, Shelbyville ISD will remain closed until further notice (at least until May 4th). For information on COVID-19, go to the following sites offered by the Texas Education Agency: http://tea.texas.gov/staywell and www.texas.gov.covid19 . view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Continuing its series of live stream Q&As with Texas leaders about the coronavirus response in the state, the Texas Tribune is focusing on education Thursday morning. App users, tap here to watch the stream. view article arw

Houston health care leaders are urgently putting together contingency plans — from repurposing hospital beds not currently in use to creating a makeshift facility at NRG Stadium — to prevent an expected surge of COVID-19 patients from overwhelming area hospitals.  The plans, assembled by leaders from the Texas Medical Center, the city of Houston, Harris County and the region, stress fluidity and flexibility because the extent of the surge, projected to peak in the next two to four weeks, is so maddeningly unknowable. Houston-area hospitals should be able to create at least 3,500 more beds by such creative rearranging, estimates Darrell Pile, CEO of the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council, a state group that coordinates the emergency response to disasters in a 25-county area centered in Houston. view article arw

The Pharr-San Juan- Alamo (PSJA) Independent School District (ISD) said they have been notified by county officials that one of their students tested positive for COVID-19. According to a release, the student attends PSJA T. Jefferson T-STEM. Hidalgo County has already contacted individuals that may have been exposed, said the release. view article arw

Midway Independent School District was notified Wednesday morning that the principal of River Valley Intermediate, Paul Offill, tested positive for COVID-19. Mr. Offill was involved in iPad distribution at River Valley Intermediate School on March 22-24, the district said. He has been on campus primarily alone most days of the closure. view article arw

OVERTON, Texas (KLTV) - The Overton superintendent of schools shared an update on the state of a parent who may have exposed a school employee to COVID-19 and the measures being taken to contain any possible spread. The statement reads in full: view article arw

CASS COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) The superintendent of Linden-Kildare Schools says that one staffer has tested positive for COVID-19.  The superintendent shared full details in this letter to LKISD families: view article arw

The first reported COVID-19 death in McLennan county was a Waco ISD middle school principal. Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver announced the county's first coronavirus related death at a city council meeting today. Waco ISD has confirmed G.W. Carver Middle School principal Phillip Perry has died from COVID-19. Perry has been the principal of G.W. Carver Middle School since May 2019. view article arw

CASS COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) The superintendent of Linden-Kildare Schools says that one staffer has tested positive for COVID-19.  The superintendent shared full details in this letter to LKISD families:  Dear LKCISD families, view article arw

This afternoon while “surfing Facebook” we saw someone post that a staff member at Red Oak ISD had tested positive for COVID-19. We will not report on information like that without verifying it first. We searched the ROISD website and could not find any information. Someone emailed us this letter they received from ROSID Superintendent Brenda Sanford. view article arw

In an effort to share available resources to help our community combat COVID-19, Clint Independent School District stepped up to offer needed medical equipment to local hospitals in the El Paso area and invites other school districts in the El Paso area to do the same. view article arw

As the coronavirus threatens to shutter schools for the remainder of the school year, the Leander school board on Tuesday night unanimously approved modifying its grading policies as not to count high school students’ second semester towards their grade point average or class rank.  Instead, both performance measures for the 2019-2020 school year will be based only on students’ averages from the first semester.  The district’s changes are a few of the many ways the coronavirus pandemic is upending and shifting the way students learn away from the classroom.   The board also recommended that all students are graded on a pass or incomplete grades, akin to what some universities across the country have done.  During Tuesday’s board meeting, Superintendent Bruce Gearing said that Leander would be ahead of other school districts by making these changes. view article arw

As the coronavirus threatens to shutter schools for the remainder of the school year, the Leander school board on Tuesday night unanimously approved modifying its grading policies as not to count high school students’ second semester towards their grade point average or class rank.  Instead, both performance measures for the 2019-2020 school year will be based only on students’ averages from the first semester.  The district’s changes are a few of the many ways the coronavirus pandemic is upending and shifting the way students learn away from the classroom.   The board also recommended that all students are graded on a pass or incomplete grades, akin to what some universities across the country have done.  During Tuesday’s board meeting, Superintendent Bruce Gearing said that Leander would be ahead of other school districts by making these changes. view article arw

Governor Greg Abbott today issued an Executive Order implementing Essential Services and Activities Protocols for the entire state of Texas. The protocols direct all Texans to minimize non-essential gatherings and in-person contact with people who are not in the same household. The Governor’s Executive Order renews and amends his previous order enforcing federal social distancing guidelines for COVID-19, including closing schools and instructing Texans to avoid eating or drinking at bars and restaurants. The protocols allow exceptions for essential activities and services based on the Department of Homeland Security’s guidelines on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce. Examples of these essential services include healthcare, grocery stores, banking and financial services, utilities, child care for essential service employees, and government services.  view article arw

Stay informed on the rapidly changing news surrounding COVID-19 with our daily coronavirus email newsletter that will give you all the latest local and national information. Sign up here.  The Trib has dropped its paywall on all the coverage related to the coronavirus. Find all the coverage on our coronavirus latest page. view article arw

Tomball ISD Superintedent Martha Salazar-Zamora said during a March 30 teleconference meeting she hopes to announce March 31 the date to which TISD might further extend its closure of district facilities due to the coronavirus outbreak. The district announced March 16 it would suspend its normal district operations through April 10.  "I hope to have an announcement to make after our Region 4 meeting tomorrow, but it is apparent that the extension is going to be necessary. I just am not prepared to give a date of what that extension will look like," Salazar-Zamora said during a March 30 special teleconference meeting of the board of trustees. "As we get later and later, the likelihood is challenging to bring kids back for two weeks, three weeks, whatever that might look like, but know that I will be looking at various districts and information to make that decision as soon as possible."  Salazar-Zamora said superintendents of schools within Region 4—such as Spring, Klein and Cypress-Fairbanks ISDs—have a conference call tomorrow, after which time she plans to make the announcement. view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday ratcheted up travel restrictions into Texas during the new coronavirus pandemic and announced the state's first pop-up hospital to deal with the crisis. He also said he was moving to "stop the release of dangerous felons" amid the outbreak. Abbott said he was dramatically expanding a previous executive order that requires a 14-day self-quarantine for anyone flying into Texas from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut or New Orleans. Now, the state is also mandating a 14-day self-quarantine for anyone driving into Texas from anywhere in Louisiana and for those flying in from Miami, Atlanta, Detroit and Chicago, as well as anywhere in California or Washington. view article arw

BOERNE, Texas - The Boerne Independent School District superintendent gave a special message to his students, faculty and parents over social media on Monday.  As Boerne ISD enters Week 3 of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Tommy Price continues to urge the BISD community to stay home and practice social distancing, while kicking off the #GreatThingsBoerneISD initiative. view article arw

Several area school districts and parks departments are taking greater steps to encourage social/physical distancing by locking public parks and removing equipment.  The effort is to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, the viral infection responsible for sickening more than 1,000 in North Texas and killing another 17. As of Monday afternoon, the virus has infected more than 738,000 worldwide and more than 140,000 in the United States. In the U.S. alone, nearly 2,500 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19. view article arw

Brownsville Independent School District schools will remain closed until further notice, Superintendent Rene Gutierrez announced after President Donald Trump ordered a 30-day extension of social distancing guidelines because of the novel coronavirus. Trump made the announcement Sunday, throwing into limbo plans for students to return to classes April 13. But Gutierrez also said it is too early to assume that students won’t return to classes yet this school year.  He said things keep changing and that students conceivably could return earlier than 30 days from now, or later. It all depends on guidance from the Texas Education Agency, he said. view article arw

GREGORY, Texas — Gregory-Portland Independent School District officials say they will close all campuses, offices, and facilities to employees.   According to G-PISD, some employees will continue to work on-site as requested and advised by their supervisors, and only with permission from District and Campus Administrators like a Principal, Directors, and/or Leadership Cabinet member.  view article arw