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Live COVID-19 updates: 2 Texas Department of Public Safety employees test positive for COVID-19

DPS confirmed one employee works at a driver's license office in Carrollton located at 4600 State Highway 121.
Credit: CDC

A Richarson man who was found dead in his home was confirmed to have COVID-19, Dallas County officials said Thursday. 

The man was in his 60s and did not have chronic health conditions, according to officials. The man's death is the first connected to COVID-19 confirmed in Dallas County. 

His death was among the 20 new confirmed cases reported in the county Thursday. And, city officials said, a Dallas police officer has been confirmed to have the novel coronavirus. 

A Lewisville woman is one of four new cases reported in Denton County. Health officials believe she got the disease through community spread. 

And Tarrant County officials have reported 10 new cases. 

Cases are adding up as local health authorities ramp up testing. 

Like many local governments in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered Thursday the closure of schools, gyms, dine-in restaurants and bars as part of an executive order. 

RELATED: Dallas police officer tests positive for coronavirus, 3 others quarantined

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins pressured Abbott to make the call earlier this week. Many restaurant and bar owners have expressed their concerns over the past week that while Dallas was shutting down restaurants, other cities, such as Frisco, weren't doing the same. The statewide ban will alleviate that issue.  

"It is moving quickly. We must change the course of COVID-19 before it impacts our state with maximum effect," said John Hellerstedt, the Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner. 

The governor's executive order begins midnight Friday and continues until midnight April 3.

Abbott said the order may be extended to stop the spread of the disease. 

"We must strangle its expansion by reducing the ways we are transmitting it," Abbott said.   

Top updates for Thursday, March 19

Texas Department of Public Safety employees test positive for COVID-19

Thursday night, the Texas Department of Public Safety announced two of its employees tested positive for COVID-19. 

DPS confirmed one employee works at a driver's license office in Carrollton located at 4600 State Highway 121. And the other employee works at a recruiting office in Belton. 

DPS said it will continue to provide work with public  health authorities and provide updates to the public. 

Update: DPS announced Monday, March 23, that the employee in Carrollton had lied about testing positive for COVID-19. Read more: DPS employee lied about positive COVID-19 test

Former Flower Mound Marcus player tests positive for COVID-19

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart announced Thursday night that he has tested positive for COVID-19. He is just the latest positive test among several NBA players.

A product of Flower Mound Marcus High School, Smart went to Oklahoma State before being drafted by the Celtics.

The NBA has told its teams to close its training and practice facilities to all players and staff starting Friday. 

The league says the shuttering will last indefinitely in the latest response to the global coronavirus pandemic. The league told teams of the new directive in a memo sent Thursday afternoon, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. 

The move comes after multiple players tested positive on Thursday. In addition to Smart, three members of the Philadelphia 76ers and two Los Angeles Lakers also tested positive for COVID-19.

As recently as Monday, the NBA was telling teams that individual workouts could take place using what the league called the “one player, one coach, one basket" rule. Now, that's not even permitted.

Dallas police officer tests positive for COVID-19

A Dallas police officer stationed in northeast patrol tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, officials said. 

That officer is isolated and "is currently doing well," Dallas police officials said. 

Three others are quarantined as a precaution because they had close contact with the officer. 

The northeast patrol building is being sanitized. The Dallas Police Department is also working with local health officials to see what other steps need to be taken to protect officers. 

"We know that some of our officers will contract the virus," police officials said in a written statement. The department is "prepared to address the issue with sound medical advice from our experts as well as a contingency plan to maintain operations to keep the community safe." 

Dallas police officials said department leaders have issued 3,200 bottles of hand sanitizer and 6,000 boxes of gloves to officers. 

RELATED: Dallas police officer tests positive for coronavirus, 3 others quarantined

Dallas County reports first apparent COVID-19 death 

Dallas County health officials did not say when the Richardson resident was found dead in his home but said the medical examiner confirmed he had the novel coronavirus. 

In addition to the man's death, 19 other new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported by health officials Wednesday. 

Six of those cases are linked to community spread, four cases remain under investigation, three patients were in contact with someone confirmed to have the disease and the rest were connected to domestic and international travel. 

The patients include: six men and two women in their 30s, two men and two women in their 50s, two men and three women in their 60s, one woman in her 70s and one woman in her 90s. 

Three people were hospitalized, including one in critical care. The rest are self-isolating. 

The new patients are largely from Dallas, but three are Garland residents, two are Mesquite residents, one lives in Cedar Hill and one lives in Farmers Branch. 

RELATED: Dallas City Council extends disaster declaration until April 29

4 new cases in Denton County 

One of the four new cases reported in Denton County on Thursday is due to community transmission, health authorities said. 

A Lewisville resident in her 50s is hospitalized after coming she was sickened by COVID-19, health officials said. 

Three travel-related exposures were reported, including a Frisco resident in his 40s, a Lewisville woman in her 20s and a Denton resident in his 60s. Those three people remain isolated at home. 

10 new cases in Tarrant County

Tarrant County health officials confirmed 10 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday afternoon. This brings the total number of cases to 19. Officials say this includes an Arlington man who died Sunday. 

The new confirmed cases include patients who live in Arlington, Colleyville, Fort Worth, North Richland Hills, Mansfield, and Watauga. 

Health officials say they are investigating how the patients became infected but confirm some of the cases are travel-related.

Gov. Greg Abbott executive order 

Abbott issued an executive order Thursday telling all Texans to avoid social gatherings and groups of more than 10 people. 

The order also closes all schools, bars, dine-in restaurants and gyms. 

Abbott also said the workplaces can remain open but staffing should be limited to essential personnel; everyone else should work remotely. 

The order is in effect midnight Friday and continues until midnight April 3. 

The governor clarified that the order does not mean people are forced to stay inside. They can still go to gas stations, shop at grocery stores and pick up takeout from restaurants. 

"This executive order is not a shelter-in-place order," Abbott said. 

The governor announced Wednesday that the state would also remove certain restrictions on alcohol delivery to help restaurants and bars stay afloat and continue to sell those menu items, which typically have some of the highest margins in the restaurant industry.

Emily Williams Knight, CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association, said a statewide closure must come with substantial financial help from state and federal sources to keep restaurants from failing.

"I think he needs to make sure we go into very clear and aggressive relief packages because our small communities cannot afford to lose these restaurants that will not be able to sustain this crisis," Knight said. 

Before making Thursday's announcement, Abbott received input from cities and counties on what the best decision is for the entire state.

The order says: 

  1. Every person in Texas shall avoid social gatherings larger than 10
  2. people shall avoid restaurants, gyms, bars. no dining in, gyms will be closed. Drive-thru, carryout and delivery is highly encouraged
  3. People shall not visit nursing homes, long term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance
  4. All schools in the state shall be temporarily closed

 RELATED: Frisco restaurants stay open as Dallas County and others extend Covid-19 closures

COVID-19 test kits arriving in Dallas 

"You want some good news?" Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins asked reporters at a Wednesday afternoon press conference. 

"I received a call three hours ago from someone at the Emergency Operations Center for the Department of Homeland Security and our trucks will be arriving sometime tonight or early in the morning so that we will finally have the kits so that we can open up our two pod sites," Jenkins said. "I'll ask the City of Dallas and Dallas County, Homeland Security and Emergency Management to work throughout the evening today and tomorrow to get the logistics ready, and a team at Parkland and Dallas County Health and Human Services too, to work around the clock to get that done. People are working around the clock and I do appreciate that."

Jenkins said he will know soon when those testing sites will open. 

Watch the full press conference on Facebook here. 

Other counties tracking cases 

Tarrant County health officials also confirmed more positive cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, with two new cases bringing the total there to eight. One of the patients had traveled out of the state but the travel history of the other case is still pending, officials say.

“Both of these cases have been isolated at home after developing symptoms,” said Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja. 

Two new cases of COVID-19 were also confirmed in Collin County on Wednesday night, bringing the total of confirmed cases there to 13.

Johnson and Fannin County both saw their first confirmed cases of the disease as well on Wednesday.

And in Denton County, health officials identified three new positive cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the county's total to five so far.

Health experts recommend taking the following preventative actions:

  • 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.

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