Health officials say the peak of coronavirus cases is likely still weeks away.
Dallas County reported its 20th death from COVID-19 on Wednesday, and Tarrant County reported its 19th. Health officials in both counties said they expect to see cases and deaths continue to climb in the coming weeks.
"Early indications are that we could be looking at significant numbers of positive cases and many more deaths," said Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja.
Dallas County Health Director Philip Huang said Wednesday afternoon that he expects the peak in cases to occur in late April or early May.
Texans remain under statewide orders to stay home as much as possible through the end of the month, and schools will remain closed until May 4.
It's possible those dates will be pushed back as cases continue to rise.
Local officials have announced the closure of some parks and additional bans on gatherings ahead of the holiday weekend in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Fort Worth officials announced on Tuesday that festivities at city parks will not be permitted on Easter weekend.
The ban of Easter egg hunts, parties, and group activities at city parks is in efforts to strengthen social distancing and prevent large groups of people, officials said.
Top updates for Wednesday, April 8:
- Gov. Greg Abbott updated Texans on the fight against coronavirus. He said cases continue to climb and urged Texans to continue social distancing.
- Tarrant County saw a spike in COVID-19 cases with 5 new confirmed deaths on Tuesday, April 7. Experts believe Tarrant County is now in the middle of the acceleration phase of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins announced the federally-funded drive-thru testing sites will continue through May 30. Those sites are at American Airlines Center and Ellis Davis Field House.
- Hundreds of American and Southwest airline employees have tested positive for COVID-19, and several have now died.
- Passover begins Wednesday. Services for the Jewish holiday, along with those for Holy Week and Easter, are now being streamed online while we all practice social distancing. Here's a list of local places of worship with online services.
Tarrant County reports 19th death
Tarrant County health officials confirm another person has died from COVID-19.
A Euless man in his 30s with underlying health conditions is the 19th person in the county to die, officials say.
"It’s unfortunate for our community to see the death toll rising from COVID-19," Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja said.
On Tuesday, Taneja expressed concerns that Tarrant County could see a spike in coronavirus cases soon.
“Based on all the reports we are seeing, we could very well be about to see a spike in COVID-19 activity in our county,” he said. “Although it is difficult to predict, we must do everything we can to prepare ourselves for what may be ahead."
Haltom City will close vehicle access to parks
Haltom City officials announced Wednesday they will be closing vehicle access to all city parks beginning Thursday.
Haltom City is the second city in Tarrant County to take these measures in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 ahead of the Easter holiday weekend.
On Tuesday, Fort Worth officials announced festivities at city parks will not be permitted.
The ban of Easter egg hunts, parties, and group activities at city parks is in efforts to strengthen social distancing and prevent large groups of people, officials say.
Fort Worth city officials stated in order to discourage gatherings at parks, they are going to close vehicle access to “many popular parks” on Sunday.
Both Haltom City and Fort Worth officials say police and code enforcement officers may issue citations in parks to those who do not follow social distancing standards.
Dallas County reports 63 new cases, 20th death
Dallas County health officials confirm an additional 63 people have tested positive for COVID-19. This brings the total case count to 1,324 in the county.
In addition to the new cases, another person has died. Officials say the 20th person to die in the county, is a Rowlett man in his 60s who had underlying health conditions.
The patient had been critically ill at a local hospital before he died, officials said.
Health officials also reported new cases of the coronavirus in the Dallas County jail, which is now up to 29 infected inmates.
Two federally-funded drive-thru testing sites will remain open in Dallas through the end of May, health officials said Wednesday. Those testing sites will implement new, less-invasive testing procedures next week, said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
80-year-old McKinney woman with COVID-19 has died, officials say
Collin County Health Care Services confirmed Wednesday a fifth person who had COVID-19 in the county had died, though officials said the 80-year-old McKinney woman had a serious underlying medical condition and COVID-19 was not the cause of her death.
The county currently has confirmed 343 cases since the outbreak began.
Texas to get nearly $77 million in federal funding for health centers
The federal government awarded 72 health centers across Texas a combined total of $76.7 million to help their communities fight COVID-19.
The funding will go towards efforts to prevent the spread of the disease, detect it and treat it, as well as increase capacity and staffing at the health centers, officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said.
"HHS will continue bringing every resource we have to support heroic healthcare workers across the diverse settings health centers serve, from our cities to our rural towns," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a news release.
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.