Texas Records First Fatality From Coronavirus

Alan Scaia
March 17, 2020 - 6:36 am

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BAY CITY (1080 KRLD) - Texas has reported its first death from coronavirus. A man from Matagorda County, south of Houston, died Sunday night and was confirmed to have had coronavirus Monday evening.

The Matagorda County Emergency Operations Center says the man was in his late 90s. The emergency operations center says the man did have contact with an earlier positive case in the county.

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Through Monday evening, the Texas Department of State Health Services had confirmed 57 cases of coronavirus across the state, but Governor Greg Abbott predicted an "exponential increase" as more areas of the state begin testing locally.

Monday evening, Abbott announced a series of initiatives to slow the spread of the virus and protect people from its effects.

As the number of cases grows, Abbott says coronavirus will put more pressure on the healthcare system. He says Texas will streamline the process to temporarily license doctors and nurses who come out of retirement or start working in Texas from out of state.

"Here's the reality: We are prepared for the worst," Abbott says. "The worst may be a shortage of medical professionals. We are bringing on as many medical professionals as we possibly can in case one gets sick with COVID-19, another one's going to be there to help out."

Abbott says the state will also limit visits to nursing homes, senior health centers and hospitals.

"We all must realize our senior population is particularly vulnerable to this disease," he says. "We, as a community, must be extra vigilant in safeguarding our seniors from exposure to COVID-19."

Abbott says Texas has also received a supply of surgical masks, gowns, gloves and respirators from a strategic national stockpile.

Texas is also waiving certain trucking regulations to keep store shelves stocked.

"We have a problem that's borne out of panic, not out of a health care situation," Abbott says. "People are panicking and going the store, thinking they need to buy water and toilet paper and things like that, that they don't need to be buying at this time. Let me just remind people: let's just say you were to contract COVID-19. It's not as if you're suddenly going to need a whole lot more toilet paper. You're not going to need access to bottled water because the water system is not going to be contaminated."

Through Monday night, Dallas County had reported 15 cases of coronavirus. Eight were reported in Collin County, six in Tarrant County and one "presumptive positive" case has been reported in Denton County.