Roundup: Here is the latest Katy-area coronavirus news, March 16-23

Here are what local institutions are doing about the coronavirus. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Here are what local institutions are doing about the coronavirus. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Here are what local institutions are doing about the coronavirus. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Looking for March 23-27 updates about the coronavirus? Find them here.

Update 9:08 a.m., March 23

Katy City Council plans to vote on the following agenda items at its 6:30 p.m. regular meeting conducted via teleconference:

Residents can attend this meeting by calling 877-391-0239 and dialing 30# when prompted for a participant ID. Council Member Janet Corte said on Facebook that the meeting will be livestreamed on Facebook, but did not provide additional details.

According to Waller County Election's Facebook page, it will postpone its primary runoff election date to July 14.

Meanwhile, Katy ISD began online instruction and its second week of free meals to children at select campuses March 23.

“I understand that there is anxiety out there among our families as well as our teachers and staff as we adapt to this current situation,” Superintendent Ken Gregorski said in a March 23 video accessible on Facebook. “We trust our incredible educators, administrators and support staff to deliver for our students. And it's just as important for that trust to extend across all levels of our school community as we work through the challenges we're experiencing and seeing across the country.”

A special meeting of the board of trustees will be held at 5:30 p.m. where the board will consider and adopt resolutions related to business and teaching operations during the coronavirus outbreak. Residents can attend this meeting by watching online here.

Gov. Greg Abbott held a press conference March 22 in which he signed two executive orders, according to Waller County Judge Trey Duhon’s March 22 Facebook post.

These orders lift restrictions to increase the number of nurses, increase the capacity of coronavirus patients at hospitals, and postpone nonessential surgical and medical procedures.

Additionally, the governor formed a task force—which includes former state. Rep. John Zerwas—to find ways to assist health care providers during this coronavirus emergency.

For Bend County reports as of March 21 a total of 29 positive confirmed cases. Harris County outside of the city of Houston reports a total of 51 positive cases as of 3 p.m. March 22. Waller County reports zero cases as of 4 p.m. March 22.

Updated 5:47 p.m. March 20

Katy Mayor Bill Hastings published a video urging residents to rally together.

“Katy is a community that was formed on the basis of compassion, family, loving your neighbors, assisting each other, helping each other in any way we could,” he said. “These are the times that we need to maintain and even make stronger.”

He also said city staff and administration are working to continue quality of life and city services for residents.

Hastings plans to declare a public health emergency at the March 23 City Council meeting, per a March 19 press release.

Additionally, Katy ISD provided instructions to parents and students about online instruction, which begins March 23.

The KISD board of trustees will hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. March 23 to consider action related to the cancellation of in-person instruction and the disruption of normal operations.

Since March 16, KISD has served more than 33,000 meals to children, according to a press release. It will continue to provide this service next week.

As of 11:30 a.m. Harris County reports a total of 33 positive cases, which includes one death related to the coronavirus. Fort Bend County reports a total of 24 cases as of 4:30 p.m.

Waller County and the city of Katy have reported zero cases.

Update 2:26 p.m. March 20

Katy ISD announced a few changes to the locations where it will provide free meals to children next week. Check out the latest list here.

Additionally, cleaning-related companies in the Katy area have shared their stories on how they prepared for the coronavirus and how they are helping homes and businesses disinfect.

As of 11:30 a.m. Harris County reports a total of 33 positive cases, which includes one death related to the coronavirus. Fort Bend County still reports a total of 19 cases, and Waller County has none. The city of Katy also reports zero cases.

Updated 5:41 p.m. March 19

Katy Mayor Bill Hastings will declare a public health emergency for the city at the March 23 regular council meeting, according to a press release shared on the city of Katy's Facebook.

The city of Houston will open a testing site at Butler Stadium, located at 13755 S. Main St., Houston, on March 20. This site will initially prioritize first responders and health care workers. As additional supplies come in, the site will test others, and the city of Houston and Harris County will open an additional three sites.

Updated 4:48 p.m. March 19

Although Katy ISD’s Legacy Stadium drive-thru coronavirus testing site is not open yet, there are several others open around the Greater Houston area. Some non-drive-thru testing is available at clinics, urgent care centers, freestanding emergency rooms and hospitals.

The city of Katy issued a statement this afternoon to reduce residents’ anxieties about the the testing site: “The City of Katy has been assured that the operation of the testing site will have minimal impact on our citizens.”

Meanwhile, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order to 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.

Waller County Judge Trey Duhon noted in a Facebook post that the governor’s order supersedes any of his orders. He also explained that there are no shelters in place, and a curfew has not been established. Trips to the grocery store, banks and health care providers are allowed.

Fort Bend County reports 19 total confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and Harris County reports 19 positive cases outside the city of Houston. Waller County has not reported any.

Updated 12:03 p.m. March 19

Katy ISD confirmed that Legacy Stadium will become a drive-thru coronavirus testing site in coming days.

Fulshear Mayor Aaron Groff signed a declaration of emergency at 8 a.m. This action follows a March 18 event in which the Development Services Department was temporarily closed due to possible employee exposure of the coronavirus. The department reopened March 19 when an investigation determined there was no exposure.

The city of Katy issued an update at 10:30 a.m. that the city still has zero positive cases.

As of 8:45 a.m., the city reported that the Houston region has 63 positive COVID-19 cases with 29 in Harris County, 12 in Fort Bend, zero in Waller County and zero in the city of Katy. The state of Texas has 174 cases.

The Katy Fire Department issued an update at 10:30 a.m. that is is cancelling all fire station tours, fire truck visits and car seat installations and checks.

Updated 9:56 a.m. March 19

Harris County Public Health has identified five new positive cases of COVID-19 on March 18. The regional count as of 9:12 a.m. is 51.

Katy ISD issued an update March 18 stating it is still working on the transition to viral learning for students and teachers.

“The planned resources and tools that will be available through the District’s online environment will be an extension of the same online learning that has been utilized by our students, staff and parents since the beginning of this school year.”

More information will be provided by the end of the week, per the district’s website.

Community Impact Newspaper has reached out to KISD March 18 regarding the tent setup at Legacy Stadium. The district said information will be provided in the next few days.

Additionally, Community Impact Newspaper reached out to KISD and the city of Katy on March 18 to learn whether they will move their May 2 elections to November. The governor issued a proclamation March 18 allowing political subdivisions to postpone their 2020 local elections. The city did not respond, while KISD said the board of trustees will meet soon and make a decision but did not provide a time element. A special meeting of the KISD board of trustees is set for March 23.

In case you missed it: Restaurant patrons ordering food for delivery will also be able to order beer, wine and mixed drinks. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a waiver to allow the action to help ease the financial hardship caused by coronavirus.

Updated 5:09 p.m. March 18

Katy Mills mall will be temporarily closed effective 7 p.m. March 18 through March 29.

Waller County Judge Trey Duhon issued a declaration of emergency related to the coronavirus March 18. The county does not have a confirmed case, but Duhon expects that to change in the near future.

Harris County Emergency Services District No. 18 provided a March 18 press release stating the entity is in service and is preparing for all possible scenarios related to the coronavirus. All stations are closed to the public and educational classes are postponed for at least 30 days. HCESD No. 48 also asked community members not to drop off any food items because they will not be accepted.

“We ask that everyone exercise patience and be kind to one another,” the release stated. “This time will be an inconvenience for everyone but it will be life changing for many for a variety of reasons.”

Community Impact Newspaper reporting states Fort Bend County has 10 cases, Harris County outside the city of Houston has 13 and Waller County has none.

Updated 12:12 p.m. March 18

City of Katy issued an update midday March 17 that all services are still operational. It is only allowing limited public access to the Katy City Hall lobby, while the receptionist is located within the utility billing area. Additionally, all park reservations are canceled effective March 18 through April 12, and the city will credit rental fees to those who had made reservations.

“The City of Katy, while striving to be a leader in these times of uncertainty, will keep all of our essential services operating at high levels no matter the challenges that we need to address,” Mayor Bill Hastings said in an email. “Our citizens, families and friends expect and deserve that kind of response from their local government. We stand ready to re-evaluate and modify those services should the need arise.”

Hastings stressed that the city is taking additional measures to clean and disinfect shared common areas and is following all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols.

At the Fulshear City Council meeting held at 6 p.m. March 17, City Manager Jack Harper said the municipality has implemented a new pandemic leave policy for employees. Residents are urged to conduct any city business via phone or online, and there is limited public access to city facilities. The city has also implemented distancing practices among key governmental officials to ensure that the government can continue to run if the mayor or chief of police, for example, contract the coronavirus or are quarantined.

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation March 18 to allow political subdivisions to postpone their 2020 local elections, according to a news release from Abbott’s office. This means local governments now have the ability to postpone their May 2 elections until November 3. Community Impact Newspaper will update what the city of Katy or Katy ISD choose to do.

Meanwhile, both Harris and Fort Bend counties' commissioners courts voted to extend their emergency declarations by one week. Both counties have also ordered that bars close and restaurants only offer delivery and take-out meal options.

However, Waller County does not plan to shut down restaurants or bars but may consider implementing limitations related to social distancing, Judge Trey Duhon said in a midday March 17 update.

“I will more than likely also enter an order within the next 24-48 hours that could limit any event or gathering to no more than 50 people, while strongly urging everyone to adhere to CDC recommendations of no groups more than 10,” Duhon wrote.

Find out which businesses are operating under new county guidelines here.

Both Harris and Fort Bend counties are working to set up testing sites, and Community Impact Newspaper will communicate additional information when it becomes available.

Community Impact Newspaper reporting states Fort Bend County has 10 cases, Harris County has 11 and Waller County has none.

Katy-area event organizers chatted with Community Impact Newspaper about how they are coping with the cancellations, and a local therapist has provided mental health tips in the midst of coronavirus concerns.

Updated 7:08 p.m. March 16

The city of Katy issued a release at 5 p.m. that there are still zero positive cases in the city. It will close the following facilities until further notice: Fussell Senior Center, Visitors Center/Depot and The Johnny Nelson Katy Heritage Museum. However, city parks remain open. Katy will no longer take reservations for fields and facilities, but it will not cancel existing reservations.

The city of Fulshear announced via Facebook around 6:05 p.m. that it is modifying some services to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Beginning March 17, nonessential city employees will telecommute, work from home or report on staggered schedules. Additionally, all payments, permits and licensing will only occur via phone, online or mail. No new events will be scheduled or permitted until July 4, and all public meetings will be cancelled except for the March 17 City Council Meeting.

The Fulshear Police Department also made some service changes including maintaining a 6-foot space during interviews and taking non-emergency reports via phone, per a Facebook post. Large group training exercises and other community-group activities have been postponed. The municipal court, meanwhile, will reschedule court dates, and the public works department plans to do its best to prevent the spread of disease.

As of noon, there are 57 confirmed cases in Texas in 17 different counties, according to a March 16 Facebook post from Waller County Judge Trey Duhon.

Entities throughout the Greater Houston area are reporting 29 total cases of COVID-19 coronavirus cases as of 2:30 p.m. These include eight positive cases in Harris County outside Houston city limits, and nine positive cases in Fort Bend County, which will host a special meeting 1 p.m. March 17 related to the coronavirus.

Waller County had no confirmed cases as of noon, through Duhon reported in a March 15 Facebook post that two residents have been hospitalized and are being tested and monitored.

Some Katy-area restaurants in Katy Asian Town began feeling the sting of the coronavirus starting in February, business owners said. Meanwhile, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced at 5:15 p.m. that all Harris County bars must close and restaurants are ordered to only offer takeout beginning 8 a.m. March 17. This policy will be in place for 15 days.

H-E-B, Kroger and Randalls are all operating under shortened business hours to allow for more time to restock and actively hiring new employees to meet shelving demands. The grocers are also working on ways to increase pickup and delivery availability as demand for the services grows.

Katy ISD also announced that it will postpone the opening of its schools until at least April 13. Online instruction is expected to begin March 23.

Meanwhile, Katy-area nonprofits—including Katy Christian Ministries, Christ Clinic, Citizens for Animal Protection and Katy Cares—are feeling the strain of limited contact due to the coronavirus. These organizations are changing procedures and are in need of financial and volunteer resources.