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10:41 p.m. The Galveston County Health District reported 12 new positive COVID-19 cases, bringing the county’s case total to 648. There are 10 additional recoveries, bringing that total to 354. Of the county’s 648 cases, 241 are tied to long-term care facilities.
7:16 p.m. Since noon, the statewide COVID-19 case total rose from 32,184 to 32,813. That’s an increase of 629 cases (1.95% increase). Another 19 deaths makes a total of 901 statewide (2.2% increase). The Houston region’s count is 10,132, up 167 from yesterday (1.7% increase). Harris County added 129 new cases today (1.9% increase) and is now at 6,967 cases total. There have been 219 deaths in the Houston region, up 9 from yesterday.
6:24 p.m. Houston health officials reported 84 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the city’s total to 3,992. Officials also released information on six new deaths, all with underlying health conditions:
- Male | 80s | Black | Death: 4/8/20
- Male | 90s | White | Death: 4/20/20
- Male | 100+ | White | Died: 4/26/20
- Female | 90s | White | Death: 4/19/20
- Male | 80s | Black | Death: 4/20/20
- Female | 80s| White | Death: 4/23/20
4:36 p.m. Last weekend, entry into the River Oaks restaurant Steak 48 required advance planning. Dinner reservations sold out within 15 minutes of Gov. Greg Abbott’s April 27 announcement that the state would begin reopening May 1, said chief branding officer Oliver Badgio. The restaurant is virtually sold out for the next two weeks.
For those lucky enough to snag a table, Friday’s newly adjusted dining experience felt as much like the days before coronavirus as could be expected. Read more from the Chronicle’s Amber Elliott.
3:57 p.m. The Woodlands Mall is scheduled to reopen Tuesday, but not all businesses will be open as that decision has been left to individual stores and restaurants, reports the Chronicle’s Jeff Forward. The mall will have extremely heightened cleaning procedures in place as well as maintaining social distancing guidelines.
3:22 p.m. Montgomery County Public Health District reported the county’s 15 death from COVID-19, according to a news release. The patient is a man in his 70s from the Montgomery area. He died in a local hospital.
Meanwhile, officials confirmed six new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total for the county to 640, reports the Chronicle’s Catherine Dominguez.
According to Montgomery County Public Health officials, the low number of new cases was due to an equipment malfunction that delayed of the receipt of laboratory results. The district said it expects a spike in Tuesday cases now that the equipment is functional. Health officials did not provide details on the malfunction. Read more.
3:16 p.m. Carnival Cruise Line announced Monday it would resume cruises leaving Galveston beginning in August, after cruises were postponed across the globe due to the novel coronavirus pandemic for nearly two months, reports the Chronicle’s Nick Powell.
Beginning Aug. 1, Carnival will offer cruises on its Dream, Vista, and Freedom lines. A total of eight Carnival ships will operate out of three ports: Galveston, Miami, and Port Canaveral, Fla. The company’s other North American and Australian homeport cruises will be canceled through the month of August. Read more.
3:11 p.m. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation COVID-19 model, which is used by the White House, is now projecting a total of 135,000 U.S. deaths, up from its previous estimate of 72,433. The projected increase comes as some states loosen social distancing restrictions, reports CNN.
2:45 p.m. Houston liquefied natural gas company Tellurian saw losses grow due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, reports Sergio Chapa.
The company lost $41 million, 2o percent more than the $34 million lost in the same period a year earlier. First quarter revenue increased 66 percent to $8.2 million compared with the $5 million reported a year earler.
Activity on the company’s proposed Driftwood LNG export terminal in Louisiana remains stalled under negative market conditions, meaning that Tellurian’s only source of revenue remains the company’s natural gas wells in the Haynesville Shale of Louisiana.
2:20 p.m. Journey has canceled its 2020 tour, which includes a date at the Woodlands Pavilion.
The band made the announcement Monday, saying, “The global COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions regarding large gatherings regretfully make it impossible.”
They added that they wanted the band’s “legion of hardworking fans to immediately obtain access to refund options during these unforeseen and extremely challenging times.”
The local show was scheduled for Sept. 5 at the Woodlands Pavilion. The bill also included The Pretenders.
-Reporter Joey Guerra
2:02 p.m. A Pearland nursing home reported Monday that seven residents and one employee have tested positive for COVID-19.
The Windsong Care Center reported seven of the eight cases to the Brazoria County Health Department on Sunday. The department reached out to Texas Health and Human Services and the Department of State Health Services to test all residents and employees at the facility.
As of Monday, one resident from the facility is hospitalized while the other six are recovering in isolation from the rest of the residents.
The county health department said the facility is complying with state regulations forbidding visitors from nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic. The nursing home has contacted each resident’s representative by phone to keep them updated on the current situation at the facility.
-Reporter Nick Powell
1:48p.m. The NCAA on Monday announced the annual summer kickoff and media day will not be held as scheduled July 12-14 in Newport, R.I., due to the coronavirus outbreak, reports Joseph Duarte.
In a statement, the AAC said “continued concerns for the well-being of the conference’s student-athletes, coaches, staff members and invited guests” prompted a change in format for this year’s event.
A virtual version will be held on a date to be determined. The AAC joins the Mountain West and Mid-American Conference to announce the move to virtual media days.
1:26 p.m.Bob and Cortney Novogratz are navigating the coronavirus pandemic by working on projects from home, talking to clients, contractors and vendors by phone and video meetings and keeping six of their seven kids focused on schoolwork, reports Diane Cowen.
The husband-wife design team offers design advice to help you get through the pandemic at home.
1:08 p.m. Renters who live in buildings financed by government-backed loans are protected from eviction during the pandemic.
Researchers estimate that 28 percent of renters live in units with federally backed financing, according to the Congressional Research Service . Landlords cannot initiate eviction proceedings or charge penalties for the nonpayment of rent until Aug. 23 as part of the $2.2 trillion relief package meant to battle the economic effects of the novel coronavirus.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency on Monday announced two tools to help renters know if they are protected by the legislation.
Two companies that provide government-backed loans to landlords, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have released online tools to look up whether their address is covered. To use them, go to https://www.knowyouroptions.com/rentersresourcefinder and https://myhome.freddiemac.com/renting/lookup.html and type in your address.
-Reporter R.A. Shuetz
12:47 p.m. As millions of people have moved home to work from their dining table or makeshift office due to the coronavirus, virtual communications are the new way of doing business, reports Joy Sewing.
More people are using using Zoom and other platforms, such as FaceTime and Skype, to communicate with colleagues. Even TV journalists are broadcasting the news from their living rooms.
Yet, putting your best face forward on camera at home takes some work. ABC 13 anchor Gina Gaston offers advice on how to pull it off.
“You have to get your mind right when you’re working from home,” Gaston said. “I try to dress the part. Why should working from home be any different than at the office? But I do wear my sweats sometimes because you’ll never see them.”
12:30 p.m. The May 1 reopening of Texas restaurants at 25 percent capacity saw Houston diners eager to get back into local restaurants, reports Greg Morago.
According to OpenTable, the leader in online dining reservations, Houston area reservations shot up 1,797 percent on April 27 (the day Gov. Gregg Abbott announced restaurants could reopen for limited service) over the day before. Reservations in Greater Houston were 847 percent higher over the week before. OpenTable also noted that reservations were still down 89 percent over the same weekend last year.
12 p.m. Conroe’s long-awaited Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville Resort plans to open this summer with restrictions in place to keep guests safe from the novel coronavirus, reports Rebecca Hennes.
The new 186-acre waterfront resort took over the former La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa and is in the process of a major remodel.
Representatives said the resort plans to open in July, but several measures will be put in place to ensure protection for guests and staff from COVID-19.
Safety measures are still in the works and could be adjusted over the next several weeks but the following guidelines are guaranteed, per resort representatives:
- Social distance spacing
- Sanitizer stations throughout the resort
- Elevator access management to limit the number of individuals riders at one time
- Continuous cleaning of high use areas, such as door handles, stair rails, elevator buttons, etc.
- Certain team members will be required to wear gloves and face masks
- Face masks will be available for guests
- Disposable menus/wipe down menus regularly in restaurants
- The resort will operate at reduced capacity, per Gov. Greg Abbott’s latest executive order
11:46 a.m. A pair of Houston oilfield service companies struggling in the COVID-19 era have merged as they seek to survive an industry downturn created by record-low crude oil prices.
Quintana Energy Services and KLX Energy Services reached a deal Sunday night. The companies plan to work out of a single office in Houston and combine overlapping facilities in the field. The deal is expected to close in the second half of this year.
“The combined company will be the largest provider of large diameter coiled tubing services in North America, one of the largest independent providers of directional drilling services, and one of the largest wireline providers domestically,” KLX Energy Services CEO Tom McCaffrey said in an email to employees.
The merger comes at a time when West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for crude oil, is trading below $20 per barrel during the coronavirus pandemic.
–Reporter Sergio Chappa
11:27 a.m. Liberty County on Monday confirmed its second COVID-19 death.
The patient was a woman between age 70 and 80 who lived in the south end of the county, according to health officials.
11:10 a.m. The first Monday in May is usually one of the biggest nights in fashion with New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art gala, reports Joy Sewing.
But because of the pandemic, this year’s Met gala will be a little different. Tonight, the gala goes virtual. It starts at 6 p.m. on Vogue’s YouTube channel.
10:49 a.m. Following Beyoncé’s pledge last week to support several local organizations with supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic, Tina Knowles Lawson has created the #IDIDMYPART campaign to encourage Houstonians to get tested for the virus.
The campaign, in partnership with Beyoncé’s BeyGOOD, is urging the city’s black community in particular to get tested. A recent CDC report suggests “a disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups,” particularly black patients.
“We are all in this together. But we have to look at what is happening in our black and brown communities and how they are being decimated by COVID-19,” Knowles Lawson said in a statement. “It is critical that we stay vigilant with social distancing, wearing a mask, and most of all getting tested. Being asymptomatic is how you infect your entire household and those around you, the very people you love.”
United Memorial Medical Center healthcare staff will administer 500 tests from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday at Cullen Middle School, 6900 Scott. An additional 500 tests will be administered by UMMC staff from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdaty at Forest Brook Middle School, 7525 Tidwell. Participants will never have to exit their vehicles.
-Reporter Joey Guerra
10:43 a.m. The Chronicle’s Samantha Ketterer spoke with physicians and nurses in the COVID-19 unit at United Memorial Medical Center about their efforts on the front lines in Acres Homes, one of Houston’s most diverse and historically low-income neighborhoods.
Their work makes up a small piece of Houston’s coronavirus response, but they have become recognized because of relentless efforts to help curb the pandemic here.
The hospital was the first to offer a free drive-thru testing site and set up free testing elsewhere with the help of U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. They’ve received donations from Beyonce.
10:16 a.m. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s new stay-home, work-safe order lasts through May 20 and prohibits businesses that were originally excluded from Gov. Greg Abbott’s latest executive order to reopen.
“We need to remain vigilant for a phased reopening to work,” Hidalgo wrote in a recent Twitter post announcing the order.
The order comes just days after Abbott lifted the state’s stay-home order and announced a two-phased plan to allow some businesses to slowly start reopening at 25 percent capacity levels.
Hidalgo said during a recent press conference that Abbott’s decision to lift the state order forced her to enact a four-part mitigation plan to restart the Houston economy sooner than she expected. The night the state’s stay-home order expired, Texas had the deadliest day yet for COVID-19.
-Reporter Rebecca Hennes
10:13 a.m. The question of where vulnerable older relatives are safest has plagued countless families in recent weeks, reports the Chronicle’s Emily Foxhall.
Early on, state-regulated nursing homes and assisted living facilities proved dangerous — roughly 2 of every 5 coronavirus-related deaths in Texas were linked to such facilities, even with added precautions.
Foxhall spoke with family members people who are living in elder care facilities during the pandemic about their fears and concerns.
10 a.m. Houston Texan defensive end J.J. Watt had offered to drop in on Zoom calls on Twitter, reports Joy Sewing.
Thousands of his followers responded, like St. Agnes Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school that got Watt’s attention with: “Come join us NOW. St. Agnes Academy: undefeated in football since 1906!!”
Well, St. Agnes doesn’t have a football team, but it has many other sports. But Watt offered students and faculty some uplifting words:
“Good luck to you and hopefully you can make something good out of all of this,” he said.
9:44 a.m. William Chris Vineyards, a winery based in Hye in the heart of Texas Hill Country, launched the Wanderer Series Relief Project with a new red wine blend benefitting the Southern Smoke Foundation.
“We’re not nurses or doctors, but it’s really rewarding to be able to help those hurting with your craft,” said co-owner Chris Brundrett. “Especially the folks who have helped tell our story for the past decade.”
Southern Smoke, spearheaded by Houston chef Chris Shepherd, has raised more than $1 million for restaurant workers who are struggling due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The Wanderer wine costs $20, with all proceeds going to Southern Smoke. It’s available for purchase on the winery’s website, as well as retailers including H-E-B, Kroger, Whole Foods, Twin Liquors and more.
-Reporter Emma Balter
9:23 a.m. For the first time in history, a live stream of U.S. Supreme Court arguments will be available to the public.
Starting today, the court will hear arguments remotely due to COVID-19 concerns. Arguments are scheduled to start at 10 a.m. ET Monday through Wednesday the weeks of May 4 and May 11.
The cases slated to go before the court concern birth control access, religious freedom, the Electoral College and President Trump’s financial records, reports NPR.
9:09 a.m. Across Southeast Texas this weekend, some churches held scaled-back worship services, reports Robert Downen.
Such events are allowed to resume at 25 percent capacity under Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to slowly reopen Texas’ economy, provided that congregants wear masks and practice social distancing.
Downen spoke with congregates at places of worship across the Houston region about their experiences.
8:48 a.m. On “Fox News Sunday,” Deborah Birx, a leading medical expert on the White House task force , offered very different comments compared with President Donald Trump on the projected coronavirus death toll, reports the Washington Post.
Birx was asked about Trump’s projections in recent weeks that there would be between 50,000 and 60,000 deaths, which he later increased to 60,000 to 70,000. There have already been around 66,000 deaths in the nation, with few signs of significant downturn.
Birx told host Chris Wallace that “our projections have always been between 100,000 and 240,000 American lives lost, and that’s with full mitigation and us learning from each other of how to social distance.”
8:35 a.m. The world’s largest companies are getting bigger in the COVID-19 economy, reports Bloomberg News.
At the same time, smaller enterprises, brick-and-mortar shops and startups are all struggling, according to the report, and are already starting to disapear.
The trend is posing a challenge for U.S. antitrust enforcers because the pandemic risks are worsening the same problems they were already trying to fix before the outbreak.
8:15 a.m. Politifact verified the claim that Texas “is near the bottom or at the very bottom when it comes to testing per capita,” made by U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso.
Escobar raised the issue during a webcast with the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute and the Migration Policy Institute on April 22.
Her full statement was: “Texas, I believe, either is near the bottom or at the very bottom when it comes to testing per capita, so the numbers are probably far greater than what is being reported. I believe we don’t have an adequate idea of just how many cases and how many deaths are being reported.”
Data shows that Texas has indeed lagged behind other states in terms of coronavirus testing, according to Politifact.
8 a.m. U.S. officials believe China covered up the extent of the coronavirus outbreak and how contagious the disease is to stock up on medical supplies needed to respond to it, intelligence documents show, reports the Associated Press.
Chinese leaders “intentionally concealed the severity” of the pandemic from the world in early January, according to a four-page Department of Homeland Security intelligence report dated May 1 and obtained by The Associated Press.
The news comes as the Trump administration has intensified its criticism of China, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying Sunday that that country was responsible for the spread of disease and must be held accountable.
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