Throughout the day Friday, officials across North Texas and the country made emergency declaration as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, Dallas County declared a local disaster as health officials said one of the new cases appears to be a result of “community spread,” meaning that the person had not recently traveled out of the country.
In addition to the new cases, a ban on gatherings of 500 people or more will go into effect at 11 a.m. Friday. That ban will last one week unless officials decide to extend it.
WFAA will be posting live updates throughout the day as we receive new information.
Top Headlines from Friday, March 13
Second and third presumptive positive test in Tarrant County
5:30 p.m. Tarrant County officials confirmed its second and third presumptive positive cases of COVID-19.
The second patient traveled from Europe, and has no relation to the first case, according to officials.
The third patient is a Tarrant County resident, who was in contact with a person who tested positive in Collin County.
Health officials say the third Tarrant County case “indicates limited local transmission in the DFW area.”
Denton County officials issue disaster declaration
5:20 p.m.: Denton County officials followed suit of Tarrant and Dallas counties, issuing a disaster declaration Friday amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Officials made the declaration even though there are no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the county at this time.
Denton County’s tipping point to make the disaster declaration was the community spread in the D-FW metroplex.
The declaration read that county officials were taking “extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of this potentially devastating disease.”
Catholic Diocese of Dallas cancels public masses
4:40 p.m.: On Friday afternoon, Bishop Edward Burns announced the Catholic Diocese of Dallas is suspending all public masses until March 30, 2020 due to public health concerns.
Closure of schools, cancellation of events could cause blood shortage
3:45 p.m.: Carter BloodCare is forecasting a shortage of blood because of the cancellation of every single drive it had scheduled next week.
There are no reported cases of oronaviruses being transmitted by blood transfusion, according to Carter BloodCare. They also stressed that blood donation remains safe. Donors are also screened for temperature, pulse rate, blood pressure and hemoglobin.
To make an appointment to donate, visit carterbloodcare.org, or call or text 800-366-2834.
Cities announce facility closures, cancellations of events
3:12 p.m.: A number of cities across North Texas have announced the closure of facilities and cancellation of events and programs to protect the community.
These announcements come after Gov. Greg Abbott declared a statewide public health disaster Friday as the novel coronavirus continues to spread. This declaration will authorize the use of all resources needed to respond to COVID-19.
Just hours before, on Thursday night, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins prohibited gatherings of more than 500 people at a time to help prevent community spread after Dallas Counties first non-travel-related case was discovered.
University of Texas president’s wife tests positive for coronavirus
1:20 p.m. University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves and his family are now in self-isolation after his wife, Carmel, tested positive for coronavirus, or COVID-19.
Fenves said a second member of his family is presumed to have the virus as well and the three of them are in self-isolation. He said he has now been tested as well.
Gov. Abbott declares statewide public health disaster
12:30 p.m. Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday declared coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, a statewide public health disaster as the virus continues to spread. This will authorize the use of all resources needed to respond to COVID-19.
Texas currently has 39 confirmed cases of COVID-19. About 220 Texans have been tested for the virus, and 75 are currently being tested.
Carrollton declares local disaster for public health emergency
12 p.m. The City of Carrollton has issued a declaration of local disaster for public health emergency and an order to prohibit gatherings of more than 500 people effective 12 p.m. through March 20.
As of noon, the City of Carrollton will be closing public access to the following facilities Hebron & Josey Library, Josey Ranch Lake Library, Crosby and Rosemeade Recreation Centers, and the Carrollton Senior Center, according to a news release.
There also will be no jury trials at the Carrollton Municipal Court until Wednesday, April 1 and all public events are canceled through the end of the month.
Gov. Abbott holds news conference
11:55 a.m. Gov. Greg Abbott and other state officials are hosting a news conference at 12 p.m. Friday to discuss ongoing efforts to combat novel coronavirus.
Six Flags Over Texas
11:36 a.m. Six Flags Over Texas has suspended operations until the end of March. Officials say at that time they will re-evaluate the situation.
“While there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at this property, but the safety of our guests and team members is always our highest property,” park officials said in a statement. View updates here.
Rowlett declares local disaster for public health emergency
11:15 a.m. Rowlett Mayor Tammy Dana-Bashian has issued a declaration of local disaster for public health emergency.
Gatherings of 500 or more people have been banned until 11 a.m. March 20.
Rowlett officials has canceled all programs that provide gatherings for 10 more people over 60 years old while the order is in effect.
Mayor Johnson holds a news conference
10:30 a.m. Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson held a news conference Friday after declaring a local state of disaster Thursday evening.
Johnson started the conference by saying the proclamation was a necessary step to protect the community from the novel coronavirus.
“We must act now to slow the spread,” he said. “We know taking precaution immediately will save lives, especially our most vulnerable residents.”
The mayor said the declaration will stay in effect for one week.
City council members will then hold a virtual meeting Wednesday morning, where they will decide whether to extend the local state of disaster.
Dallas County health officials will brief the city council during the meeting.
An effect on gatherings involving 500 or more people went into effect at 11 a.m. Friday.
During the news conference, the mayor continued to remind residents to practice social distancing and preventative measures.
“The number of cases this virus is more lethal than the seasonal flu, but there is no reason to panic. We have a plan to slow the spread of this virus,” Johnson said.
All public and private labs have ordered to report their coronavirus test numbers daily.
“Dallas is a strong and resistant city. We will get through this,” the mayor said as he wrapped up the news conference.
Watch Mayor Johnson’s speech below:
Dallas Zoo will close at least for one week
9:25 a.m. The Dallas Zoo has announced Friday morning that it is temporarily closing to the public beginning March 13 through at least March 20.
Officials say the closure is public health precaution to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The zoo says it will continue to post updates online.
Sen. Ted Cruz extends quarantine
9 a.m. Sen. Ted Cruz is extending his quarantine until March 17 out of an abundance of caution. In a tweet, he says he found out Thursday night that he had a second interaction with another person who tested positive for COVID-19.
“On March 3, I met in my D.C. office with Santiago Abascal, the leader of the Vox Party in Spain. We met for about 20 minutes, sitting together at a conference table. We shook hands and took pictures together,” his statement reads.
Abascal then tested positive that night but was asymptomatic at the time of the meeting with Cruz.
Ban of large gatherings
5:50 a.m. As a part of the local disaster, Dallas County will ban gatherings of more than 500 people. That order is in effect beginning at 11 a.m. Friday through 11 a.m. March 20, unless it’s extended.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson has signed the declaration for the City of Dallas as well. He is expected to hold a news conference at 10 a.m. Friday. Check back for live updates.
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