Wednesday marked the fourth-highest day in Dallas County for confirmed cases of COVID-19, Judge Clay Jenkins said.
Health officials reported 112 new cases and 5 more deaths, bringing the total case count to 3,352 and the death toll to 99.
“Unfortunately, halfway through the week, we are on pace to experience our highest average daily count of COVID19 cases this week,” Jenkins tweeted.
The ages of the latest victims who died range from 50s to 90s.
County health officials released the following information about the victims:
- A Dallas man in his 50s who had been hospitalized.
- A Mesquite man in his 60s who was critically ill at a local hospital.
Three of the following victims lived in long-term care facilities.
- A Balch Springs man in his 60s who had been critically ill at the hospital.
- A Dallas woman in her 90s who was hospitalized.
- A Dallas man in his 90s who was also hospitalized.
"These developments illustrate the importance of making smart choices, limiting unnecessary trips to businesses, and wearing your face covering at essential businesses and on public transportation," Jenkins said.
Top updates for Wednesday, April 29:
- Family members of inmates at the Fort Worth Federal Medical Center are concerned as cases have skyrocketed inside the prison and three inmates have died. Last week, the facility was reporting 56 cases of the disease out of 1,500 inmates. The case count now stands at 241. It's the second-highest number of any federal prison.
- A 17-year-old Lancaster High School student died from COVID-19 over the weekend. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Jameela Dirrean-Emoni Barber died in the ER before she could be admitted to the hospital. She is the youngest known person in Dallas County to have died from the disease.
- Was it too early to reopen? That's what some in the medical community are saying as Texas prepares to further open more and more businesses back up. One particular concern is the fact that the number of new cases and hospitalizations are still steady, and even increasing.
For a daily roundup of the biggest coronavirus news from around North Texas and beyond, sign up for the WFAA COVID-19 email newsletter.
20th Collin County death reported
Collin County health officials announced the county's 20th death Wednesday afternoon.
The 83-year-old woman had underlying health conditions.
There have been 710 positive cases of COVID-19 in Collin County with 487 recoveries.
Tarrant County reports 3 new deaths
Three more residents in Tarrant County have died from the novel coronavirus, health officials announced Wednesday afternoon.
The victims include a woman in her 90s and a woman in her 30s, both from Fort Worth, and a woman in her 70s from Grapevine. All three women had underlying health conditions, officials said.
So far, 61 people in the county have died from COVID-19 and 387 have recovered.
"These deaths are grim reminders of the seriousness of this pandemic," said Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja. "Our sympathy goes out to their families."
Officials also reported 61 new cases Wednesday, bringing the total count to 2,149.
Although Tarrant County’s stay-at-home order expires Friday, Taneja is urging residents to continue to stay home as much as possible.
Plano woman dies from novel coronavirus
An 83-year-old Plano woman is the latest person to die from COVID-19, Collin County officials confirm. She tested positive on April 21 and died Tuesday night.
Collin County health officials reported 18 new cases of the novel coronavirus Wednesday, bringing the total case count to 710.
Denton County reports 10 new cases
Ten more people in Denton County have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total case count to 748.
County health officials say 20 people have died from complications related to the novel coronavirus and 363 residents have recovered.
Denton County will also offer free drive-thru testing for residents who have experienced COVID-19 symptoms within the last 7 days.
Testing will be conducted from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on May 2 at 535 South Loop 288 in Denton.
Residents must call 940-349-2585 to pre-register.
2 counties plan to reopen at 50% capacity
Two counties in North Texas plan to reopen restaurants and retail stores at 50% capacity because they have a low number of active COVID-19 cases.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Somervell County confirmed it has zero cases of the novel coronavirus.
County officials say Glen Rose Medical Center did test its first patient who is positive for COVID-19 but that person is not Somervell County resident. Therefore the patient will be reported in the county of which they live.
At 2 p.m. Thursday, Somervell County officials say they will announce additional details via Facebook live regarding schools.
Wise County is also looking into reopening retail and restaurants to 50% capacity. As of Wednesday afternoon, county officials say they meet the criteria, with only having five active cases of COVID-19.
“When it’s time to file, tomorrow at 9 a.m. we'll be able to give businesses notice that can open up at 50%. I would at least give businesses 24-hour notice. If another active case is added, would not be able to open at 50%,” Judge JD Clark said.
This information was first reported by the Wise County Messenger.
Texas developing 'clarity' on unemployment aid qualifications as businesses reopen
A Texas Workforce Commission spokesman said late Tuesday the agency is developing parameters for what might allow Texans to continue qualifying for unemployment insurance if they refuse to return to work at a business reopened by Gov. Greg Abbott’s loosened executive order because they fear contracting or spreading the coronavirus.
That statement came a day after The Texas Tribune reported that TWC officials said workers must be “willing and able to work all the days and hours” required of the job they are seeking and those who choose not to return to work at businesses reopened during the pandemic will become ineligible for unemployment aid. In the Tribune story Monday, agency spokesman Cisco Gamez said workers with concerns about their employer’s adherence to health guidelines should contact the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
But on Tuesday night, Gamez said that "on a case by case basis," the agency "may need to review" situations where workers aren’t comfortable returning to reopened businesses while the coronavirus still spreads through the community. He also said the agency is “working to develop clarity” on what “might constitute good cause” for not returning to a job. Without good cause, people aren't eligible for benefits, he said.
Gamez said he will provide more information as he gets it.
RELATED: More updates from the Texas Tribune
Fort Worth inmate who had COVID-19 dies weeks after giving birth
An inmate, who had tested positive for COVID-19, died about a month after giving birth while on a ventilator, the Bureau of Prisons confirmed Tuesday.
On March 20, U.S. Marshals transported Andrea Circle Bear, 30, from Winner City Jail in South Dakota to The Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth.
Doctors delivered Circle Bear's baby by C-section on April 1. The woman died about a month later, officials say.
Galleria Dallas plans to reopen on May 4
Galleria Dallas is one of the first malls in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to announce its reopening plan.
Earlier this week, Gov. Abbott announced malls can reopen Friday with 25 percent capacity.
On Wednesday, Galleria Dallas officials announced they are holding off on opening immediately and instead will reopen with modified hours on Monday, May 4.
The temporary operating hours at Galleria Dallas will be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Shoppers will also be required to follow new guidelines. That information can be found here.
Music City Mall in Lewisville to reopen
Music City Mall in Lewisville plans to reopen this Friday, officials confirmed Wednesday afternoon.
The hours of operation will be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Mall officials say the center has enhanced its normal cleaning procedures.
Some of the other safety measures include:
- Hand sanitizing stations available at each entrance.
- Elevators and escalators will offer limited capacity.
- Signage outside each merchant will indicate the maximum occupancy of every retail space.
- CDC guidelines posted throughout the mall.
- Temperature checks available voluntarily upon customer's request.
- When in the mall, shoppers are asked to maintain a six-foot distance from other people.
- Playgrounds will remain closed as per the governor’s order.
The mall's security team will use a closed-circuit television monitor occupancy and distancing to ensure adherence to state guidelines, officials said.
Alcohol to-go may become permanent in Texas
Gov. Greg Abbott hinted at keeping the Texas alcohol-to-go sales permanently in a Tweet on Wednesday.
Abbott tweeted, "Alcohol-to-go sales can continue after May 1. From what I hear from Texans, we may just let this keep on going forever."
This comes after the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) stated that restaurants opening May 1 can continue selling alcohol to go.
Dallas releases daily hospital capacity numbers
The city of Dallas released the following numbers as reported by the 25 hospitals Tuesday:
- Total beds: 5,695
- Beds occupied: 3,271
- Total ICU beds: 827
- ICU beds occupied: 566
- Total ventilators: 942
- Ventilators in use: 330
Health experts recommend taking the following actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Practice "social distancing" and stay at least 6 feet away from others and avoid large public gatherings
- 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 U.S.
More on WFAA:
- Company says drug proved effective against COVID-19 in major US study
- CDC extends social distancing guidelines to include pets
- Dallas small business, rent and mortgage relief programs to accept applications in May
- MAP: These are the confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Dallas-Fort Worth area
- VERIFY: Antibody tests versus COVID-19 tests. The pros and cons of both.