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Coronavirus live updates April 8: Here’s what to know in the Dallas-Fort Worth area

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WHY EASTER SUNDAY COULD BE THE RISKIEST TIME FOR FORT WORTH’S CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK

The Fort Worth area is entering the most dangerous phase of the novel coronavirus outbreak, city and county health officials said Tuesday, noting that cases of the virus are likely to increase even if a surge on hospitals is avoided.


The city and county stay-at-home orders and mandates on social distancing, which have been continued through April 30, appear to to have lessened the effect of the virus on hospitals, said Brandon Bennett, Fort Worth’s health officer and commander of the emergency operations center. But if residents do not heed warnings about the virus, Tarrant County will see an increase in COVID-19 patients.

“This is one of the more risky times in viral transmission,” Bennett said. “This is the time when we really need people to stay at home, to isolate and social distance ... it’s critical.”
Tarrant County’s top health official, Vinny Taneja, said he’s concerned — especially as Easter looms — that people aren’t following stay-at-home orders as much as they did when the orders first came out.
After an emergency was first declared March 13, Taneja said he saw a major slowdown in traffic.
Now he is seeing an uptick of traffic, particularly around lunch time, Taneja said Tuesday after county commissioners met to formally approve Judge Glen Whitley’s extended disaster order calling on residents to stay at home until April 30. The Fort Worth City Council approved the same extension Tuesday afternoon.
“That tells me people are starting to get complacent,” Taneja said. “We are starting to see an increase in numbers. So this would be a good time to pay attention and stay home.”

ASKED TO LEAVE LAUNDROMAT, MAN COUGHED IN WOMAN’S FACE, SAID HE HAD VIRUS, POLICE SAY

A 46-year-old man who said he had the novel coronavirus coughed in the face of a woman who had asked him to leave a Fort Worth laundromat where he had been sleeping, police alleged.
Jeffrey Smith became irate and launched the coughing blitz about 9:45 a.m. Monday in the 5800 block of South Hulen Street, police said.

Smith also spat in the woman’s face and attempted to cough on others before walking or running from the business, police said.
Police found Smith nearby and placed him in custody. He was taken to a hospital and later booked into jail on suspicion of making a terroristic threat.

STATE REBUKES FORT WORTH STYLIST ON FACEBOOK OVER CLAIMS SHE VIOLATED CORONAVIRUS ORDER

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation publicly rebuked a Fort Worth-based hair stylist on Facebook Monday for reportedly offering appointments in spite of the statewide shutdown of cosmetology services.

The state department tagged Styles by Brittany B, owned by Fort Worth resident Brittany Brown, in a Facebook post that quickly received thousands of likes, shares and comments by Tuesday. The post informed Brown that she was violating Gov. Greg Abbott’s statewide shutdown of hair and other beauty services during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Please be advised that in addition to the criminal penalties under the Executive Order, there are potential TDLR violations that could subject you to administrative fines and sanctions,” TDLR said in the post. “Please keep yourself and others safe by NOT providing services at this time.”

On Tuesday, Brown — who did not immediately respond to messages from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram — posted a video about TDLR’s post in which she denied that she was offering hair services.

TDLR spokeswoman Tela Mange said Brown posted that she was accepting appointments for this week, and TDLR decided to address her on Facebook without contacting her first.
“We had determined that following up with folks on Facebook where they were posting that they are open for business and accepting appointments for that day would be a strategy that we would try,” Mange said.

She said the public post lets people know “that they’re not supposed to be performing those services, or they shouldn’t be getting them done.”

In her video, Brown said that she has not taken appointments since March 20, when Tarrant County ordered hair and nail salons to close. She said a post on her page offering hair styling services was an auto-post that she set up before the shut-down. She added she does not cut hair in Texas anyway and only offers braiding services, which does not require a license.

FORT WORTH ISD ANNOUNCES MAJOR CHANGES TO ‘MEALS TO GO’ PROGRAM TO INCREASE SAFETY

The Fort Worth school district is making major changes to its “Meals to Go” program to improve the safety of families and staff, the district announced Tuesday.
The program, which provides meals to children ages 2 to 18, will change from daily distribution to a two-day a week schedule.
The district will give each child six meals on Mondays and Thursdays rather than one meal a day Monday through Friday.
The change will allow the district to provide more meals to kids, increase social distancing and reduce the number of gatherings, the district said in a news release. The changes also follow the Texas Department of Agriculture’s revised regulations.
The new schedule will start Tuesday, April 14 because Monday is a school holiday. The next distribution day will be Thursday, April 16, followed by Monday, April 20.
Other changes are being made immediately to the program. Meals will now be served between noon and 1:30 p.m., and the “Meals To Go” site at Southwest High School will permanently relocate to Woodway Elementary School, 6701 Woodway.
The district will not distribute meals on April 10 (Good Friday).
Also, parents are now required to provide one form of identification for each child’s meal if the child does not accompany the adult.

ARLINGTON SCHOOLS WILL CHANGE GRADING SYSTEM, CREDITS DURING CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK

Students in Arlington’s school district will be graded based on progress, participation and commitment to coursework because of campus closures in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. The school board passed the measures unanimously Tuesday.

Most students will receive a grade of complete or incomplete; or, for high school students, credit or incomplete, district officials said Tuesday. Their final grade will not impact GPA.

Students who receive an incomplete will have the opportunity to recover over the summer. Steven Wurtz, chief academic officer for the district, said the district is working on making summer classes free.

Superintendent Marcelo Cavazos said that because an incomplete will have implications in graduation or grade advancement, the district is doing everything it can to help students earn a complete or credit status.

FIVE MORE CORONAVIRUS DEATHS IN TARRANT COUNTY

Tarrant County confirmed five more coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday to bring its total to 18.

The ages range between 47 and 88, including two residents of Fort Worth and one each from Grand Prairie, Haltom City and River Oaks. All had been hospitalized locally.

“It is very unfortunate and disheartening for our community to see the death toll rising from COVID-19,” Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja said in a news release. “These are difficult times for all of us; and particularly for the families and friends of those we have lost to this disease. Our hearts go out to them.”

Taneja urged residents to strictly follow the executive orders issued by County Judge Glen Whitley to limit movement to essential activities, stay home as much as possible and maintain social distancing.

“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. Early indications are that we could be looking at significant numbers of positive cases and many more deaths.”

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