Here is the latest on new cases, school closures and event cancellations in Tarrant County

Tarrant County Public Health is now able to test for coronavirus. (Courtesy Adobe stock photos)
Tarrant County Public Health is now able to test for coronavirus. (Courtesy Adobe stock photos)

Tarrant County Public Health is now able to test for coronavirus. (Courtesy Adobe stock photos)

Editor's note: This is an evolving story and will be continuously updated as more information becomes available.

Updated March 16 at 5:22 p.m.

Colleyville officials were notified by Tarrant County health officials that there is a potential case of coronavirus within the city, according to a Colleyville news release.

The county’s report did not confirm if there has been a positive test result, the release said, but the city has started preparing first responders to act accordingly.

Due to the potential case, the city has closed all city facilities as of March 16. Business continue normally through online services, email and telephone, according to the release.

The city will be following an emergency response plan going forward.

Colleyville Fire and Police departments started preparing for its response to the pandemic in early February, according to the release, and first responders have about six months of equipment to use when responding to calls of potential or positive cases of coronavirus.

Updated 12:24 p.m., March 15

Tarrant County Public Health identified a fourth positive case of the Covid-19 virus in Tarrant County on March 14. The case was returned positive in a private test lab. The patient in question is a close contact of an American Airlines pilot, who already tested positive for the Covid-19 virus, according to a Tarrant County news release.

"The fourth Covid-19 case was isolated at home and then developed symptoms," Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja said. "No one at DFW Airport came in contact with the fourth patient since symptoms developed."

Updated 6:42 p.m., March 13:

Cities and school districts in Tarrant County continue to attempt to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The city of Keller announced the closure of the senior activities center and Keller Public Library until March 20. City events are also cancelled through March 20. City parks and Keller Town Hall will remain open, and city board and council meetings will continue as scheduled.

Keller ISD food-service provider Sodexo will provide meals for students at five district locations, including Basswood Elementary School, Caprock Elementary School, Eagle Ridge Elementary School, Keller-Harvel Elementary School and Whitley Road Elementary School. More information on school meals can be found here.

Updated 2:50 p.m., March 13:

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley declared a state of disaster for the county during a March 13 press conference. The declaration comes after county health officials identified a second presumptive positive case of the novel coronavirus. The patient is under observation and had been traveling overseas, officials said. No other information regarding the patient was shared.

Whitley also announced that county passport offices are expected to close through March 20. The Tarrant County courthouse is also expected to alter its schedule out of concern for the coronavirus.

Day care and child care facilities are encouraged to remain open, as long as they follow health department guidelines, such as restricting visitors, Whitley said.

Updated 11:30 a.m. March 13:

Officials with Carroll, Grapevine-Colleyville, Keller and Northwest ISDs announced March 13 that the districts will remain closed through March 27, following a recommendation from the Tarrant County Health Department. All extracurricular activities and school events during this same period have been canceled. The districts will re-evaluate closer to the end of the month if schools should reopen or remain closed.

Updated 12:45 p.m., March 12

More cities in Tarrant County are attempting to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Southlake has postponed its Celebrate Southlake event, initially scheduled for late March, due to concerns for the virus, and other measures are being taken by cities to limit physical contact.

Updated 10:50 a.m., March 11

Tarrant County identified its first presumptive positive coronavirus case March 10. The presumptive positive result is a test that returned positive in Tarrant County Public Health's lab; however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not yet completed confirmatory testing, according to the CDC website.

The patient in question traveled to a conference in Kentucky during late February, according to a Tarrant County Public Heath release.

Updated 2:20 p.m., March 10

City officials across the metroplex are responding to news of the first Dallas-Fort Worth case of coronavirus, confirmed March 10 in Collin County,

The city of Keller and the city of Southlake are both in close contact with multiple agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas Department of State Health Services and Tarrant County Public Health, officials said. They indicated that upcoming local events have not been affected at this time.

Southlake facilities already undergo regular and thorough cleaning procedures, Assistant City Manager Alison Ortowski said. This includes the Champions Club and the Senior Activity Center. The city is ready to make changes to this procedure if an adjustment is needed, she said. Additionally, the city has created a webpage called Protect Southlake to help keep the community informed about precautions and responses to the coronavirus.

Published March 9:

The Tarrant County Public Health lab is now able to test for the coronavirus. The county received 800 test kits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on March 5, and more are on the way, according to a county news release. It joins Dallas County in being able to test for the coronavirus.

“We want to reassure the public that Tarrant County residents will now have access to COVID-19 testing at our public health lab,” said Vinny Taneja, Tarrant County Public Health director, in a statement. “Although availability is limited at this time, we will be working with our medical community to ensure the test is available for people who meet the case definition for COVID-19 testing.”

Before receiving the kits, local health departments were having to send samples to the CDC for testing. Results could take weeks to come back. Tarrant County Public Health will now be able to test for the coronavirus with same-day or next-day results, the news release said.

Tarrant County Public Health will be able to test patients who live in the county and the region, said Richard Hill, senior public information officer for Tarrant County Public Health. Patients must match the symptoms of the coronavirus, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, before they can be tested, Hill said.

Other agencies are monitoring the virus in case of a possible outbreak.

The Dallas Fort Worth International Airport is one of 11 U.S. airports the Department of Homeland Security identified to screen passengers for the coronavirus. All direct DFW flights to and from China and South Korea have been suspended until further notice. Travelers from specific regions and countries are being screened, airport officials said. The airport has also added additional custodial service staff to assist with sanitation efforts, increasing overtime and adding temporary labor to meet these efforts.

Local cities and school districts are taking precautionary measures against the virus as well.

The city of Grapevine is actively reviewing its sick leave policies, telework capabilities, flexible work schedules and reducing its in-person meetings in preparation of the virus. The city is also considering increasing the frequency of facility cleanings, officials said.

Colleyville’s fire department, police department and city manager’s office have prepared a response plan should an outbreak occur, Assistant City Manager Mark Wood said. The city is also cleaning high-touch areas in facilities, including railings and door knobs. This is not expected to impact the city budget, he said.

“The city is taking this response seriously, meeting regularly internally and with regional partners,” Wood said via email. “We are taking measured steps to ensure the safety of our first responders, employees, and residents.”

Local school districts are monitoring for the virus and following district cleaning procedures as well as following CDC travel advisories as students and staff leave for spring break. The CDC has advised against all nonessential travel to China, South Korea, Italy and Iran at this time, which it has identified as Level 3 countries. A Level 3 country is one with widespread, ongoing coronavirus transmission and in the cases of China and Ian has restrictions on entry to the United states.

Carroll ISD is requiring employees and staff to complete a travel survey prior to returning to school after spring break and is asking for district students and families to email the district before school resumes. Grapevine-Colleyville ISD has also asked students and staff to complete a travel survey before returning to school March 16 to indicate if they have traveled to a high-risk country or not. Northwest ISD is requiring its staff members to communicate this as well. Keller ISD is asking staff and families to self-report if they traveled to restricted countries. Individuals who have traveled to one of these countries could be required to self-quarantine for 14 days as recommended by the CDC.

There are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Tarrant County. For more resources regarding the virus as well as the number of global cases, visit Tarrant County Public Health’s website.
By Miranda Jaimes
Miranda has been in the North Texas area since she graduated from Oklahoma Christian University in 2014. She reported and did design for a daily newspaper in Grayson County before she transitioned to a managing editor role for three weekly newspapers in Collin County. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 covering Tarrant County news, and is now back in Collin County as the editor of the McKinney edition.


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