Community Impact Newspaper reporters in the Greater Houston area and across the state have been covering the coronavirus pandemic since early March. Here is a look back on that work chronicling notable events that have changed the way life looks in Tomball and Magnolia and beyond.
March 5: Harris County officials announce the first two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county: a man and woman in their 60s who reside in the northwest portion of the county. The cases are tied to international travel, and there are no signs of community spread at this point.
March 9: Hospital systems throughout the Greater Houston area begin establishing restrictions on visitors and implementing screenings for employees to help curb the spread of the virus.
March 10: With a dozen confirmed cases in the region, Harris County Commissioners Court takes several actions to prepare for further spread.
March 11: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announces the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is canceled for the remainder of the season. Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo sign emergency declarations for the city and county, respectively.
March 12: Lone Star College System announces closure for the week following spring break, with plans to resume in-person classes March 23. Hidalgo, alongside other area city and county officials, recommends the cancellation or postponement of gatherings of 250 or more people. The city of Tomball canceled both its German Heritage Festival and Honky Tonk Chili Challenge as a precautionary measure.
March 13: Gov. Greg Abbott announces a state of disaster for all counties statewide to authorize the use of state government resources to prepare and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. Montgomery County issues a 30-day public health emergency and cancels the county fair. Magnolia and Tomball ISDs announced closure for the week following spring break.
March 14: Montgomery County reports its fourth presumptive coronavirus case.
March 16: Magnolia and Tomball ISDs announced they will remain closed through April 10. Montgomery County bans all gatherings of 50 people or more. All Montgomery County Precinct 2 nonemergency activities are suspended.
March 17: Harris County commissioners vote to extend the public health emergency declaration another week. County restrictions begin for restaurants to offer only delivery and takeout services; Montgomery County prohibits restaurants from having on-site dining and forces bars, clubs, gyms and movie theaters to close.
March 19: Gov. Abbott announces all restaurant dining rooms, bars and gyms must close; social gatherings are limited to 10 people; and nursing homes cannot accept visitors. Tomball and Magnolia ISDs plan to roll-out remote learning March 23.
March 20: LSCS cancels graduations initially planned for May 6-9.
March 23: Harris County postpones primary election runoffs to July.
March 25: Hidalgo issues a mandatory stay-at-home order for the county, requiring all nonessential workers to stay home through April 3. Montgomery County mandates businesses like nail salons and tattoo parlors close their doors and prohibits nursing homes from having nonessential visitors. Tomball ISD postpones graduation ceremonies indefinitely.
March 26: MISD postpones graduation ceremonies and moves them to Cynthia Woods Pavilion. Magnolia City Council votes to postpone the May 2 mayoral election and extend the city's local disaster declaration.
March 27: The Texas Workforce Commission struggles to keep up with calls in the midst of record-breaking unemployment numbers.
March 30: Montgomery County ESD No. 10 postpones its sales tax election until November.
March 31: LSCS officials announce facilities in the system will remain closed until at least April 30. Montgomery County extends its stay-at-home order to April 30. MISD announced it would remain closed until May 4, while TISD announced it would remain closed until further notice.
April 3: A Harris County administrative judge voids an order from Judge Hidalgo that would have released certain nonviolent jail inmates to help contain the virus.
April 6: In preparing for hospitals to surpass capacity, Judge Hidalgo has construction crews transform NRG Stadium into a medical site for COVID-19 patients. Tomball’s Rails & Tails Mudbug Festival gets canceled.
April 7: State parks and historic sites are closed to the public to limit gatherings.
April 8: Montgomery County extends its disaster declaration through May 11.
April 14: City of Magnolia votes to extend its disaster declaration through May 12.
April 16: The Texas Medical Center reports a decrease in the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital beds.
April 17: Gov. Abbott announces plans to begin lifting restrictions on Texas businesses to restore jobs in stages. He also announces schools across the state will remain closed for the rest of the academic year. Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough ends a stay-at-home order for Montgomery County. MISD and TISD announce schools will remain closed until the end of the school year.
April 22: Certain elective procedures and surgeries are permitted again for the first time in weeks. Hidalgo announces a new mandate stating that residents ages 10 and older will be required for 30 days to wear a face covering in public beginning April 27.
April 24: Retail to-go services are permitted for the first time in weeks at stores across the state.
April 27: Gov. Abbott announces the next phase of his plan to reopen the state’s economy, and the business community in the Greater Houston area braces for what the future may hold for them. Abbott also says jurisdictions, such as cities and counties, do not have the authority to fine or jail individuals for not wearing face coverings in public.
April 28: In a 3-2 vote, Harris County commissioners vote to invest $12 million in the Harris County Clerk's Office with intentions to handle an increase in mail-in ballot requests. Montgomery County officials approved distributing roughly 12,000 coronavirus tests through local testing site
April 29: State officials authorize restaurants and businesses to continue offering alcohol to go even after they reopen their doors for dine-in service.
May 1: Restaurants, retailers and some entertainment venues have the option to open to the public at 25% occupancy with social distancing measures in place. Some establishments—including some restaurants and movie theaters—are not quite yet ready to open their doors. Hidalgo signs a new version of her stay-at-home order, keeping it in effect through May 20.
May 5: Gov. Greg Abbott announces salons and barbershops will be able to reopen across the state May 8, despite his previous plan to keep them closed until at least May 18.
May 11: The Texas Education Agency announces that the 2020-21 school year will likely be affected by the coronavirus.
May 12: Montgomery County expands a voucher program for free coronavirus testing. Harris County announces it will resume issuing marriage licenses on May 18. Montgomery County extends its disaster declaration until June 11, in order to speed up purchasing items such as PPE.
May 18: Texas enters Phase 2 of its reopening plan, with openings planned for child care services, bars and other businesses.
May 19: Applications for the Harris County COVID-19 Relief Fund are slated to open June 11.
May 20: Montgomery County sees three more deaths related to coronavirus, bringing the total deaths up to 21
May 21: Meat shortages impact North Houston restaurants and suppliers. Hidalgo plans to further extend the county's "Stay Home, Work Safe" order.
May 22: The Texas Medical Center reports continued week-over-week increases in COVID-19 discharges, deaths; hospitalizations, ICU numbers remain steady. All patients, residents and staff at Texas' 23 state hospitals and supported living centers are to be tested for coronavirus.