Seven people across North Texas have received a “presumptive positive” or “positive” test results for COVID-19, officials say.
Now that the disease has made its way to North Texas, WFAA will be posting live updates here on Thursday as we receive new information on its spread.
Top Headlines from Thursday, March 12
Dallas County cancels civil jury trials and Justice of the Peace Courts
3:30 p.m.: Dallas County announced Thursday afternoon that it was canceling jury trials at the George Allen Courthouse and Just of the Peace Courts until April 13.
Anyone summoned to appear between March 11 and April 13 does not need to report or call and reschedule their service.
This cancellation does not apply to the Frank Crowley Criminal Courthouse. County Judge Clay Jenkins said they were not suspending criminal jury trials at this time because “the inability to guarantee a speedy trial could result in cases being dismissed.”
However, they are changing the jury selection process to eliminate large group gatherings as well as taking other steps to ensure juries are safe.
“This is a rapidly developing situation and we will be monitoring the science and making adjustments continually,” said Jenkins.
Anyone with questions about their summons or service at George Allen should call 214-653-6233.
Numerous sporting events canceled across the country
Following an announcement by the NBA on Wednesday to suspend play until further notice, the MLS, NHL, and MLB have all made similar announcements. Additionally, the NCAA president said Thursday that all postseason play had been suspended including March Madness, the Frozen Four, and the NCAA Wrestling tournament.
Dallas bishop gives parishioners special dispensation
2:40 p.m.: Bishop Edward J. Burns issued “a rare dispensation” to Dallas Catholics on Thursday.
The bishop told parishioners in a statement that people in certain categories were not obligated to attend Mass on Sundays and other holy days.
Included in that list are people over the age of 60, those with severely compromised immune systems and those with underlying medical issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease and cancer.
This dispensation is in effect until further notice.
The bishop encouraged those who stay home to spend time in prayer, reflection and reading scripture.
Public events postponed at Globe Life Field
1:20 p.m.: With the cancellation of the Chris Stapleton concert that was supposed to held Saturday, officials announced that the official ribbon cutting has also been postponed.
A future date is still to be determined.
In addition, the start of public and group tours of the new facility will be delayed until the first public event takes place. They were set to begin March 17.
NHL to suspend 2020 season
12:35 p.m.: The Dallas Stars were scheduled to play a game tonight at the American Airlines Center. But not anymore.
That game, and all other NHL games scheduled for Thursday, will not be played, as the league has announced they will suspend their season and follow the lead of the NBA and MLS.
Parkland Hospital to limit visitors, suspend participation in community events
12:30 p.m.: Parkland Hospital will limit the number of visitors patients can see to one person to “take all precautions for everyone who enters our doors,” officials said.
The limitations will go into effect at all of Parkland’s facilities, including its primary care health centers.
The organization will also suspend all participation in community events, health fairs and public speaking events until further notice “for the safety and well-being of patients.”
American Athletic Conference cancels championship game at Dickie’s Arena
10:55 a.m.: The 2020 Air Force Reserve Men’s Basketball Championship has been canceled, AAC officials said. The game series was scheduled to be played from March 12 through 15 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth.
Officials said it was “a proactive decision to protect the safety, health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff and all involved with the tournament.”
Dallas Cup canceled, organizers announce
10:30 a.m.: The international youth soccer tournament, “regarded as one of the most competitive in the world,” has been canceled in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The tournament was scheduled to take place from April 5 through 12.
Sen. Cruz closes D.C. office
10:30 a.m.: Sen. Ted Cruz decided to close his D.C. office in response to an aide in another Senate office testing positive for COVID-19, a news release said. Staff will continue to work remotely.
Cruz is completing his own self-quarantine today at home in Texas after he had contact 14 days ago with someone who tested positive for the disease, the release added.
Viking and Princess cruises suspend service
8:30 a.m.: Two major cruise line companies have announced they will suspend service for upcoming trips. Viking Cruises says it will suspend all ocean and river cruises until May 1. Chairman Torstein Hagen announced the decision in a letter to Viking guests posted on its website.
Carnival is also suspending its Princess Cruises. The suspension starts Thursday and goes through May 10. President Jan Swartz announced the decision in a video, calling it the “most difficult decision in our history.”
Harris County toll roads no longer accepting cash
6:35 a.m.: Toll collectors will no longer accept cash payments in the booths across Harris County in order to reduce potential exposure to the new coronavirus for both drivers and employees, officials with the county’s Toll Road Authority told WFAA’s sister station KHOU overnight.
“Cash customers should drive through and pay later online. If the customer is unable to go online, a bill will be mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle.”
More Dallas-Fort Worth schools react to COVID-19 concerns
6:30 a.m.: Dallas Baptist University is the latest school to announce changes or closures to its operations.
The university has decided to extend its spring break for one additional week. Classes will resume online from March 23 through April 5. In-person classes will then begin on April 6, though DBU said that could change.
Alvarado ISD announced last night it will remain closed today and tomorrow based on concerns over a possible case in the community there.
Cruise ships may ban those 70 years and older
6:15 a.m.: The top cruise line trade organization wants to ban any person over the age of 70 from boarding their ships, submitting a plan to the White House with the ban for consideration.
Unless they have a doctor’s note saying they are fit to travel, those over the age of 70 would be prevented boarding. The plan also would prevent anyone with signs of illness from being allowed on a ship. And travelers with any underlying conditions would be warned against going on a cruise, as well.
Read more about the proposed ban here.
Wall Street futures trading down by about 5%
5:45 a.m.: The markets reacted sharply to President Donald Trump’s national address and the continued outbreak of COVID-19 across the United States, with stock futures trading down by about 5% across all indices at 5:35 a.m. CST.
The S&P was down by 4.84%, the Nasdaq down by 4.91% and the Dow Jones by 5.13%.
21 cases of COVID-19 in Texas, state health department says
5:30 a.m.: There are now 7 reported cases of COVID-19 in North Texas, and 21 across the entirety of Texas, state health officials said.
Three of those are in Collin County, an additional three have been identified in Dallas County. An Episcopalian rector in Tarrant County has also had a “presumptive positive” test result for the disease.
65 people are currently under self-quarantine in Collin County as well, county health officials said.
The state is expected to add any updates to that number at 10 a.m.
If you’re concerned about possibly having the virus, check with your primary care doctor before coming into an office or emergency room.
To be tested, a person must have a fever, cough or shortness of breath and have either been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus recently or been to a country with a level 2 or 3 CDC warning, according to state health officials.
American and Delta Airlines make changes after travel ban announcement
4:25 a.m.: American and Delta Airlines are both making flight adjustments after President Trump announced a 30-day travel suspension between Europe and the U.S. over the coronavirus pandemic. The ban will prevent “foreign nationals” who have been in most European countries at any point in the past 14 days from entering the U.S., officials with the Department of Homeland Security later clarified.
The countries, known as the Schengen Area, include:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
“This does not apply to legal permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation,” a news release from the department said.
Click here to read the entire statement from DHS Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf on the ban.
Delta Airlines released the following statement to WFAA following the news on Wednesday:
“The safety and health of our customers and employees is always our highest priority. Delta has and will continue to quickly make adjustments to service, as needed, in response to government travel directives. More information on Delta’s response to the COVID-19 virus is available here.”
American Airlines says it currently serves seven airports in five countries within the Schengen Area, including France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. President Trump’s travel directive will impact 14 out of 15 daily flights, including:
- Four flights: Paris via Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, New York and Philadelphia
- Two flights: Frankfurt via Charlotte and Dallas/Fort Worth
- One flight: Munich via Charlotte
- Two flights: Barcelona via Miami and New York
- Four flights: Madrid via Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, New York and Philadelphia
- One flight: Zurich via Philadelphia
KLM also released a statement to WFAA on the ban, saying it is analyzing how this will affect its operations.
Following the entry ban announced by the US for European countries, KLM is busy taking stock of the impact of this measure on our customers, flights, employees and the company. As soon as more is known, we will publish it on our newsroom and our flight update page on klm.com.
Lufthansa echoed that statement in its own to WFAA, explaining further information would follow as they examine the ban’s impact.
We are currently assessing the impact of the recent US Department of Homeland Security’s proclamation’s guidelines on our operations to the United States. In this context the safety and well-being of our customers and crews remains/is our highest priority.
Lufthansa currently operates international flights out of DFW Airport, while KLM has a season flight schedule and works with Air France and Delta.
Health experts recommend taking the following preventative actions:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Consult CDC’s travel website for any travel advisories and steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside of the US
- Public health expert warns virus not going away – KSAT San Antonio
- Tesla asks employees to resume production at Fremont car plant despite coronavirus health orders – CNBC
- Major health groups and charities urge Trump to reverse World Health Organization funding decision – CNN
- Public health officials push back on May opening | TheHill – The Hill
- Analysis | The Health 202: Los Angeles is racing to discover the true coronavirus infection rate – The Washington Post
- Some Public Health Officials Not Releasing Coronavirus Hospitalizations : Shots – Health News – NPR
- Covid-19 health-care crisis could drive new developments in robotics, editorial says – The Washington Post
- Lost Your Health Insurance During the COVID-19 Crisis? Here Are Your Options – The Motley Fool
- El Paso virus cases jump to 35 as health leaders warn of increased risk of ‘community spread’ – KVIA El Paso