Coronavirus: Latest on new cases, school closures, event cancellations in Keller, Roanoke, northeast Fort Worth

Cities, school district and local chamber organizations are enacting new schedules and policies to help prevent the spread of the virus. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Cities, school district and local chamber organizations are enacting new schedules and policies to help prevent the spread of the virus. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Cities, school district and local chamber organizations are enacting new schedules and policies to help prevent the spread of the virus. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Editor's note: The latest coronavirus-related information is being tracked in a new blog found here.

Updated 8:25 p.m. March 22

The Tarrant County Commissioners Court voted to approve Judge Glen Whitley’s March 21 disaster declaration, but did not go as far as issuing a stay-at-home order.

The court's March 22 vote comes during an emergency meeting as Dallas County residents were ordered to shelter in their place of residence from 11:59 p.m. March 23 through April 3 in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also took multiple measures March 22 designed to expand hospital staffing and capacity in the state, but declined to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order—even as calls for such an action increased as the new coronavirus continued to spread across the state.


"What ... may be right for places like the large urban areas may not be right at this particular point of time for the more than 200 counties that have zero cases of COVID-19,” Abbott said in a March 22 Texas Tribune report.

As of 11:15 a.m. March 22, Tarrant County had 47 cases of coronavirus, including 14 in Fort Worth and one in Keller. The total number of cases in Denton County was 24 as of March 21.

Click here for the story on Dallas County's new order.

At the state level, Texas' runoff primary election has been postponed until July 14. The primary was originally scheduled for May 26. Gov. Greg Abbott ordered March 20 that the runoff be moved as part of the state's efforts to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Among the races on the runoff ballot is the one between MJ Hegar and Royce West. who are vying for the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

Updated 7:20 p.m. March 21

A second amended disaster declaration signed by Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley due to the novel coronavirus went into effect March 21. This amended declaration restricts in-person worship services and closes malls and other non-essential retail establishments, such as barber shops, hair salons, nail salons, spas and massage parlors. Grocery stores, pharmacies and other establishments that sell household goods are deemed essential and will remain open.

Updated 7:05 p.m. March 21

Denton County Public Health announced March 21 that nine additional coronavirus cases have been confirmed locally, bringing the county's total to 24.

Five of the 24 people who have been diagnosed with the virus are Lewisville residents. Eight of the county's cases resulted from local transmission, according to officials.

Updated 10:27 a.m. March 21

As of Saturday morning, Tarrant County Public Health has identified 42 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the county. There are currently 39 active cases, including 11 in Fort Worth, three in Southlake, two in Colleyville, two in North Richland Hills and one in Keller.

Denton County Public Health confirmed six new cases of the novel coronavirus March 20, bringing the total number of cases in the county to 15.

Four of the 15 people diagnosed with the virus are Lewisville residents, according to officials.

In an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, Denton County Transportation Authority announced that it has reduced its transportation services temporarily. Details can be found at the agency’s website.

Five city of Roanoke firefighters were placed in isolation after possible exposure to the Covid-19 virus.

The exposure possibly took place during the treatment of a medical emergency, and the firefighters have been removed from duty, as directed by the city's medical director. The city is awaiting test results before placing the firefighters in quarantine, according to city officials.

The city is "being as cautious as possible," city spokesperson Morgan Roundy said.

Updated 4:45 p.m. March 20

Tarrant County Public Health officials have identified an additional 10 coronavirus cases in the county in a 24-hour period, including the first confirmed case in the city of Keller.

There have been 30 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Tarrant County, including one death and two persons who recovered. There are currently nine confirmed cases in Arlington, seven in Fort Worth, two in Southlake and one each in Colleyville and Keller.

At the state level, Gov. Greg Abbott announced the approval of federal disaster loans for small businesses in Texas.

Qualifying small businesses statewide are now eligible to apply for economic injury disaster loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration, according to a March 20 announcement. For more information on how to apply, visit www.sba.gov/disaster.

Updated 4:30 p.m. March 20

The city of Keller has announced new restrictions after an executive order by Gov. Greg Abbott took effect March 20, according to a city news release.

Keller Town Hall is closed to walk-ins, and in-person and regular meetings and services have been suspended through April 3, including City Council and Planning & Zoning Commission meetings, the release said.

City parks will remain open at this time, but the city has decided to close all 11 city playgrounds, according to the release. The city has also approved temporary tents in some medical office parking lots so that medical professionals can separate sick patients, the release said.

Updated 7:22 p.m. March 19

As of March 19, the Tarrant County Public Health Department has reported a total of 19 coronavirus cases, 18 active, in Tarrant County.

The city of Fort Worth has five active cases. The city of Southlake has two active cases, and the city of Colleyville has one active case. There are currently no reported cases in the cities of Keller and Roanoke.

Updated 5:40 p.m. March 19

Denton County Public Health officials have confirmed four more coronavirus cases in Denton County, bringing the local number of cases to nine, according to a March 19 news release. Two patients, a female in her 50s and another in her 20s, are Lewisville residents.

One of the cases is from local transmission, whereas the other is travel-related. The patient in her 20s is under in-home isolation, and the other is in a local hospital. The other two patients both have travel-related cases and are under in-home isolation. One is a Denton County resident in his 60s, and the other is a Frisco resident in his 40s.

Updated March 19 1:10 p.m.

Gov. Greg Abbott on March 19 took sweeping action to contain the spread of the coronavirus across Texas, issuing an executive order that will close restaurants and schools, among other things, according to a story from the Texas Tribune.

Abbott announced an executive order that will limit social gatherings to 10 people, prohibit eating and drinking at restaurants and bars while still allowing takeout, close gyms, ban people from visiting nursing homes except for critical care and temporarily close schools. The executive order is effective midnight March 20 through midnight April 3, Abbott said.


Updated 1:01 p.m. March 19

Gov. Greg Abbott has waived regulations to allow restaurants to deliver alcohol with food orders. Restaurants with a mixed beverage permit may now sell alcohol for delivery as long as food is ordered for delivery, according to a release from the state.

The governor also directed the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to allow manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers of alcoholic beverages to repurchase or sell back unopened product.

“The state of Texas is committed to supporting retailers, restaurants and their employees,” Abbott said. “These waivers will allow restaurants to provide enhanced delivery options to consumers during this temporary period of social distancing.”


In Denton County, Judge Andy Eads amended the county’s executive order for disaster declaration for public health emergency March 18 to enact more restrictions effective immediately, including the prohibition of dine-in services for restaurants, as local coronavirus cases continue to emerge.

The order will be in effect until 11 a.m. March 25.

“We are taking these mandatory aggressive measures now with the first case demonstrating community spread in Denton County,” Denton County Judge Andy Eads stated in a news release.

The new executive order:

  • Restricts all community gatherings across Denton County to 50 people or fewer.

  • Orders the closing of all bars, lounges, taverns, nightclubs, gyms and health clubs, theaters and entertainment or amusement venues. Restaurants, for now, may remain open for drive-thru, delivery, pickup and curbside service only. Dine-in service is prohibited.

  • Encourages landlords to not proceed with evictions.

  • Prohibits nonessential visitors from accessing nursing homes, retirement, short- and long-term unless the visit is to provide critical assistance or for end-of-life visitation.

  • Orders anyone who lives with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus to isolate at home for 14 days. Members of the household cannot go to work, school or any other community function.

  • Removes restrictions on delivery times to or from any entity involved in the selling or distribution of food products, medicine or medical supplies in Denton County for the next 60 days.



The decision to outline new countywide mandates came after three additional cases of the novel coronavirus were confirmed in Denton County March 17, bringing the total to five.


Updated 3:45 p.m. March 18

A meal finder app will become available to parents March 20, according to an announcement from Gov. Greg Abbott.

The app, called the Texas Students MealFinder Map, will include the address of facilities serving meals in their communities as well as days and times meals will be served.

The Texas Education Agency is asking local education agencies and schools to complete an application to be included in the map.

This announcement came just before Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley announced in a March 18 news conference that all restaurants need to limit their services to curbside and drive-thru and shut down their dining rooms. In addition, event spaces and gathering centers will be limited to 50% occupancy or no more than 125 people, whichever is less, Whitley said.

If county residents are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus, they can call the county hotline at 817-248-6299 to receive the latest information and how to be taken care of, Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said during the conference.

Updated 2:55 p.m. March 18

Two more cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Tarrant County. One of the patients had traveled out of state. The travel history of the other case is still pending, Tarrant County Public Health said in a news release.

“Both of these cases have been isolated at home after developing symptoms,” said Vinny Taneja, Tarrant County Public Health director, in a statement.

Updated March 18 at 1:23 p.m.

A Lewisville man in his 40s who is in critical condition is among three new people with confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Denton County, according to a March 18 news release.

The Lewisville resident is in isolation in a Denton County hospital after a local transmission, according to the release.

Two Frisco residents—a woman in her 50s and a man in his 20s—are both in home isolation after travel-related exposure.

Denton County Public Health is working to identify and contact individuals who may have been exposed by the patients.

“Now that we have evidence of local transmission, it’s even more important to follow social distancing and hygiene recommendations,” Dr. Matt Richardson, the director of Denton County Public Health, said in a statement.

Updated March 18 11:35 a.m.

Elections are encouraged to be suspended until Nov. 3 in Texas according to a proclamation by Gov. Greg Abbott March 18.

"Right now, the state's focus is responding to COVID-19 — including social distancing and avoiding large gatherings. By delaying this election, our local election officials can assist in that effort,” Abbott said.

The governor has suspended multiple Texas codes, allowing for political subdivisions to delay their elections.

An election advisory with guidance for postponing elections has also been released by Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs.

Updated 7:08 p.m March 17

The city of Fort Worth has increased restrictions on local businesses, limiting bars and restaurants to takeout and curbside options only.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price stressed that residents should adhere to previous guidelines, including hand washing, a 6-foot social distancing barrier and covering the mouth while coughing.

“Many Fort Worth businesses and residents have made voluntary and significant changes in their daily life,” Price said. “But we need additional efforts.”

Price encouraged grocery stores to become more diligent with social distancing and will direct code and fire inspection staff to enforce restrictions.

The city is continuing to listen to public health agencies, medical professionals and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Price said.

Updated March 17 at 5:49 p.m.

During an emergency meeting, Northwest ISD passed a trio of resolutions that will provide wages to all regular employees, extend sick leave and grant more authority to the superintendent.

The first resolution provides wages to regular employees, contractual and noncontractual, during the district’s extended closure through March 27.

The board also approved and an extension of sick leave for employees should they contract the coronavirus after the district returns to normal operations, officials said.

“Salary [employees] will not lose money during this mandatory closure of the school district,” NISD Superintendent Ryder Warren said.

A third resolution approved by the board will grant the superintendent additional authority to “efficiently and effectively prepare the school district in response to the declarations of emergency announced by Tarrant County, Wise County and the state of Texas,” according to the resolution.

Authorities granted to the superintendent include:



  • the authority to act in the place of the board under Board Policy DEA (LOCAL) and thus make all decisions regarding payment of employees during an emergency closure, to implement the provisions of Board Policy DEA (LOCAL), and to make determinations regarding the purpose and parameters of any such payments;



  • the authority to make decisions regarding the compensation of exempt and nonexempt employees during an emergency closure and to implement those decisions;



  • the authority to alter the Northwest ISD 2019-20 school calendar by changing and/or adding school/instructional hours and work/school days as necessitated by any emergency closure or related concerns;



  • the authority to create guidelines and make determinations regarding absences, leave time, leave days, and compensation of any employee who is quarantined as a result of coronavirus and/or who tests positive for coronavirus and who presents appropriate medical documentation regarding themselves and/or an immediate family member, in the sole discretion of the superintendent or designee(s), in compliance with Texas and federal law;



  • the authority to seek any necessary waivers from the Texas Education Agency without further action of the board of trustees regarding missed instructional days, low attendance or any matters related to the emergency closures as part of this resolution;



  • the authority to declare a catastrophe and take all actions as appropriate in accordance with Texas Government Code Section 552.233 regarding temporary suspension of the Texas Public Information Act;



  • the authority to procure, negotiate, and execute contracts for goods and services that are necessary to mitigate, prevent, restore, and repair damage caused to Northwest ISD equipment, personal property, and facilities or to protect the safety of NISD students and staff, given that the emergency of coronavirus and its potential spread constitutes an unforeseen emergency/matter of urgent public necessity, and the delays posed by competitive procurement of contracts necessary to restore, replace, and/or repair equipment, personal property, and/or school facilities will prevent or substantially impair the conduct of classes or other essential school activities;



  • the authority to negotiate and execute interlocal agreements that are reasonable and necessary to achieve a public purpose of NISD as described in this resolution, in connection with the coronavirus emergency, subject to ratification by the board;



  • the final authority to hire contractual personnel;



  • the authority to receive bequests and donations to the district on behalf of the board; and



  • in the event other waivers or immediate action is needed, the superintendent is authorized to take other action and to submit/apply for other waivers in accordance with guidance and instructions from the national and state authorities and/or agencies






Updated 11:58 a.m. March 17

A sixth person has tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Tarrant County. A Grand Prairie resident contracted the virus in Tarrant County with no known exposure to a confirmed case and no recent travel history, a March 17 Tarrant County Public Health release said.

This is the first case of presumed local transmission in the county. The patient was isolated at home after developing symptoms, the release said.

Updated 8:41 p.m. March 16

The city of Roanoke announced a series of cancellations, closures and adjustments to city operating procedures.

The Roanoke Public Library, recreation center, senior center and visitors center will be closed through March 29, according to a city news release. The library will exercise a grace period with fines, and the drop box remains accessible. All senior center and recreation center programming is canceled, while Metroport Meals on Wheels will offer drive-thru lunch service for seniors Wednesdays at noon. Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County will continue normal home-delivered meals to home-bound clients.

Roanoke City Hall, city parks, the city municipal court and city police department will remain open, the release said. Court dockets scheduled for March 24, March 26 and April 7 will be rescheduled for a later date. Residents are encouraged to submit permits, pay bills and contact city officials online or by phone in order to reduce social interaction.

City Council, board and commission meetings will continue as scheduled, according to the release.

Noncity private events are canceled through the first week of June. Upcoming city events including the Eggapalooza on April 4 and Roanoke Roundup on May 2 are also canceled, while the Evenings on Oak Street concert series and Roanoke Farmers Market will be rescheduled, the release said.

Updated at 6:52 p.m. March 16

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price announced new restrictions related to the coronavirus.

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. March 17, the amount of people allowed in restaurants, bars, event centers, gyms, retail stores, public buildings, plazas, houses of worship and malls within city limits will be limited to a maximum of 125 people, Price said.

Additionally, all businesses will only be able to admit a number equal to half of the number printed on the respective business’s certificate of occupancy, Price said.

The restrictions are in addition to city of Fort Worth restrictions that took effect March 14.

Initial restrictions were imposed to reduce rapid spread of the virus and protect the community, according to a city news release.

Additional city of Fort Worth restrictions include:

· City-organized, produced and permitted meetings, events and programs are postponed or canceled through March 31.

· Until further notice, within city of Fort Worth limits there is mandatory cancellation of events or gatherings with expected attendance of 250 people or more.

· All city of Fort Worth community centers and libraries are closed to the public through March 29. The closure will be re-evaluated at that time.

“This proactive decision was made under the advice of health experts and in an effort to reduce the community spread,” Price said. “We are working with all our hospital systems, emergency medical personnel, MedStar and all public safety personnel to coordinate our efforts. Through the cooperation of residents listening closely to our public health experts and practicing social distancing protocols, we can reduce our risks.”

Original

Tarrant County Public Health officials reported a fourth confirmed case of the Covid-19 virus, or coronavirus on March 14.

As a result of county health department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, cities, school district and local chamber organizations are enacting new schedules and policies to help prevent the spread of the virus.

The city of Keller announced the closure of the senior activities center and Keller Public Library until March 20. City events are also canceled through March 20. Keller city parks and Keller Town Hall will remain open, and city board and council meetings will continue as scheduled.

Officials with Keller and Northwest ISDs announced March 13 that the districts will remain closed through March 27, following a recommendation from the Tarrant County Public Health.

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.

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.

In addition, Gov. Greg Abbott announced March 16 that the requirements for the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness, or STAAR testing, have been waived for the 2019-20 academic year.

This decision is in response to large absences or schools closing as they take steps to slow the spread of coronavirus, the announcement said.

“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,” Abbott said in the announcement. “We will empower schools to make the best decisions to protect their communities from COVID-19.”


The city of Keller is in close contact with multiple agencies, Fire Chief David Jones said, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas Department of State Health Services and Tarrant County Public Health.

“We’re updating our response plans as a community as needed,” he said. “The common message is how best to protect yourself and prevent the spread.”

For more information, residents can contact the Tarrant County Public Health coronavirus hotline at 817-248-6299.


As of March 10, officials from the Greater Keller Chamber of Commerce indicated that chamber-sponsored events, such as Keller Fest, would be unaffected.

Similarly, the city of Roanoke has no plans to cancel city events at this time, City Manager Scott Campbell said via email.

“We are currently communicating with local and federal health agencies as we monitor the situation,” he said. “At this time, we have not cancelled any events, but will certainly communicate any such decisions to the community and press.”


Meanwhile, the Metroport Chamber of Commerce announced the cancellation of all meetings and networking events through March 31.

The chamber will follow guidelines provided by local health care professionals, as well as regional and state officials, to determine the status of future chamber events, according to a chamber news release.

Symptoms of the coronavirus can include runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat and fever, according to DSHS. In addition, people with cardiopulmonary disease or a weakened immune system are at greater risk.

CDC guidelines indicate a number of precautions individuals can take to help decrease contact and spread of the coronavirus, including:




  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;



  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth;



  • Stay home when you are sick;



  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and 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 recommendations for using a face mask;



  • 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, and always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty; and



  • Consult the CDC travel website for any travel advisories and steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside of the U.S.



By Ian Pribanic
Ian Pribanic covers city government, transportation, business and education news for Community Impact Newspaper in the Keller-Roanoke-Northeast Fort Worth areas. A Washington D.C. native and University of North Texas graduate, Ian was previously an editor for papers in Oklahoma, West Texas and for Community Impact in New Braunfels.


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