The following is a roundup of national and state news on the Coronavirus as of Monday morning. We will be posting more local information this afternoon. Thank you for reading.
The Coronavirus has now reached 49 out of 50 states. As of March 16, there are approximately 1,629 cases of the virus, with 41 deaths reported. Fifty-six of those cases are in Texas. West Virginia remains the only state with no reported cases.
Schools nationwide have begun to combat the disease, with Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath saying to prepare for extended closures – possibly until the end of the school year. Gov. Greg Abbott cancelled the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness test on Monday as a result of the pandemic.
"Your health and safety are top priorities, and the state of Texas will give school districts flexibility to protect and ensure the health of students, faculty, and their families,” he said in a statement on the STARR tests. “We will empower schools to make the best decisions to protect their communities from COVID-19.”
In Kaufman, reports have been received of senior care facilities closing their doors to visitors in an effort to prevent the virus from reaching their patients. So far, Kaufman County has no reported cases.
The Federal Government cut interest rates in an attempt to cushion the economic blow dealt by the pandemic, with the new benchmark interest rate being between 0% to 0.25%. Other tactics include buying $500 billion dollars of U.S. Treasury bonds, and lowering the rate foreign banks pay when trading for U.S. currency. Despite these attempts, stocks have continued to plummet, and trading was halted on Monday as a result.
Some states have begun closing bars, restaurants, and events with large gatherings. The Centers of Disease Control recommends cancelling any events of 50 or more people. No such closures have been announced in Texas.
The CDC is also urging individuals to wash their hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes, and avoid touching others. The disease is believed to spread through respiratory droplets. Staying at least six feet from others has been recommended, to reduce chances of coming in contact with these droplets.
Individuals at high risk due to age, 65 or older, weakened immune systems, or other medical issues are encouraged to call their doctor if symptoms develop. Those who are in generally good health who get sick are recommended to stay home, and to treat their symptoms in a similar fashion as the common cold or flu.