Image: President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with supply chain distributors in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Sunday, March 29, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Conroe, Austin, Washington, D.C., March 30 – Montgomery County has sixty-five (65) Chinese coronavirus cases and 0 deaths from the illness. The great news is that a second victim of the Chinese virus has enjoyed release from the hospital and made a full recovery.
As of March 29, 2020, at 3 p.m., Harris County Public Health (HCPH) has 27 new cases of COVID-19, which brings the total in Harris County to 240 positive cases, including the second COVID-19 related death. HCPH is also confirming that 34 of the patients have recovered.
Trump extends virus guidelines, braces US for big death toll
It was a stark shift in tone by the president, who only days ago mused about the country reopening in a few weeks. From the Rose Garden, he said his Easter revival hopes had only been “aspirational.”
The initial 15-day period of social distancing urged by the federal government expires Monday and Trump had expressed interest in relaxing the national guidelines at least in parts of the country less afflicted by the pandemic. But instead he decided to extend them through April 30, a tacit acknowledgment he’d been too optimistic. Many states and local governments have stiffer controls in place on mobility and gatherings.
Trump’s impulse to restore normalcy met a sober reality check Sunday from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, who said the U.S. could experience more than 100,000 deaths and millions of infections from the pandemic. Trump’s decision to extend the guidelines reflected a recognition that the struggle will take place over the longer haul and the risk of deaths spiraling into the hundreds of thousands is real.
“I want our life back again,” the president told reporters in the Rose Garden.
Trump, who has largely avoided talk of potential death and infection rates, cited projection models that said potentially 2.2 million people or more could have died had the country not put social distancing measures in place. And he said the country would be doing well if it “can hold” the number of deaths “down to 100,000.”
“It’s a horrible number,” Trump said, but added: “We all together have done a very good job.”
Brought forward by Trump at the outdoor briefing, Fauci said his projection of a potential 100,000 to 200,000 deaths is “entirely conceivable” if not enough is done to mitigate the crisis. He said that helped shape the extension of the guidelines, “a wise and prudent decision.”
The federal guidelines recommend against large group gatherings and urge older people and anyone with existing health problems to stay home. People are urged to work at home when possible and avoid restaurants, bars, non-essential travel and shopping trips.
The extension would leave the federal recommendations in place beyond Easter, April 12, by which time Trump had hoped the country and its economy could start to rev up again. Alarmed public-health officials said Easter was sure to be too soon.
The U.S. had more than 139,000 COVID-19 cases reported by Sunday evening, with more than 2,400 deaths. During the course of the Rose Garden briefing, reported deaths grew by several dozen and the number of cases by several thousand.
One in 3 Americans remain under state or local government orders to stay at home to slow the spread of the virus, with schools and businesses closed and public life upended.
Dr. Deborah Birx, head of the White House coronavirus task force, said parts of the country with few cases so far must prepare for what’s to come. “No state, no metro area, will be spared,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Most people who contract COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization. The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems. Hospitals in the most afflicted areas are straining to handle patients and some are short of critical supplies.
Fauci’s prediction would take the death toll well past that of the average seasonal flu. Trump repeatedly cited the flu’s comparatively much higher cost in lives in playing down the severity of this pandemic.
Trump had eyed a “reopening” of the U.S. economy by Easter, but in recent days medical professionals warned that would be far too soon for the nation’s heavily affected urban areas.
Just on Saturday, Trump was discussing tightening restrictions, suggesting then backing away from an “enforceable” quarantine of hard-hit New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. Instead, the White House task force recommended a travel advisory for residents of those states to limit non-essential travel to slow the spread of the virus to other parts of the U.S.
Vice President Joe Biden, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, said he wouldn’t go so far as to lay the blame for deaths on the president. “I think that’s a little too harsh,” he told NBC.
Biden faulted Trump for holding back on using his full powers under the recently invoked Defense Production Act to spur the manufacture of the full range of needed medical supplies — and for making erratic statements about the pandemic.
“He should stop thinking out loud and start thinking deeply,” Biden said.
Meanwhile, governors in other hotspots across the country were raising alarm that the spread of the virus was threatening their health-care systems.
“We remain on a trajectory, really, to overwhelm our capacity to deliver health care,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said on ABC’s “This Week.” “By the end of the first week in April, we think the first real issue is going to be ventilators. And we think it’s about the fourth or fifth of April before, down in the New Orleans area, we’re unable to put people on ventilators who need them. And then several days later, we will be out of beds.”
He said officials have orders out for more than 12,000 ventilators through the national stockpile and private vendors, but so far have only been able to get 192.
Texas Governor Abbott issues order that California travelers to Texas must self-quarantine, additional executive orders
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said 25,483 Texans have been tested for the coronavirus. Of them, 2,552 tested positive. Texas now has cases in 118 of 254 counties, he said. There have been 34 deaths “that have a connection to COVID-19” in Texas, he said.
Governor Abbott said Sunday that Texas has more than doubled the number of hospital beds available for patients who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in a recent week. He announced the state’s first pop-up hospital for COVID-19 patients will be erected by at the Kay Bailey Huchison Convention Center in downtown Dallas. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will lead the effort, assisted by the Texas National Guard, Abbott said.
Dallas County has the most COVID-19 cases of any county in Texas, a key consideration in expanding hospital capacity there. On Sunday, Dallas County reported 49 more known cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 488.
The corps initially will create 250 beds, Abbott said. Not even that many beds are needed now, the governor said. However, the convention center will be able to house as many as 1,400 beds if needed, according to Abbott and Brigadier General Paul Owen, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers leader who has helped Texas scour for possible sites for more pop-up hospitals.
Abbott said the state would begin looking for sites for pop-up hospitals in Houston, San Antonio, Austin, the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso — wherever “COVID-19 has spread the highest” in Texas.
Abbott also broadened his executive order requiring out-of-state air travelers from COVID-19 hot spots to self quarantine in Texas for 14 days or the duration of their stay, whichever is shorter. Travel by road from any location in the state of Louisiana into Texas will require 14-day self quarantine, he announced. The road travel order is the same as the earlier order for air travelers from New Orleans. Some exceptions include commercial, military and first responder travel, he said. And air travelers from Miami, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago and any site in California and Washington state will have to self quarantine for 14 days in Texas, just like those quarantines he announced last week for those fliers coming from greater New York City and New Orleans.
Another executive order from Abbott calls for an end to the release of dangerous felons from jails in Texas, saying inappropriate release of some jail prisoners complicates the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. “Releasing dangerous criminals into the streets is not the right solution,” he said.