Image: President Donald Trump speaks during press briefing with the coronavirus task force, at the White House, Thursday, March 19, 2020, in Washington. From left, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, Vice President Mike Pence, Trump, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe, March 20 – Montgomery County now has nine (9) confirmed positive test results for the Chinese flu, also known as “coronavirus” or “Kung Flu,” according to Montgomery County Public Health District officials. A ninth positive test result came in Thursday night, March 19, 2020, at approximately 8:09 p.m.
Insisting the federal government is not a “shipping clerk,” President Donald Trump on Thursday called on states to do more to secure their own critically needed masks, ventilators and testing supplies as the pressure mounted on hospitals struggling to cope with a rising number of coronavirus patients.
During another fast-moving day in the capital, Trump and his administration took additional, once-unthinkable steps to try to contain the pandemic. The State Department issued a new alert urging Americans not to travel abroad under any circumstances. And Trump said the government should take partial ownership of companies bailed out during the pandemic, a step that would mark an extraordinary federal reach into the private sector.
Hoping to inject some good news into the dreary outlook, Trump held a White House briefing trying to highlight new efforts underway to find treatments for COVID-19 as infections in the country climbed past 11,000, with at least 168 deaths.
He offered an upbeat promotion of therapeutic drugs in early testing that he said could be “a game-changer” in treating those suffering. But critics quickly accused him of spreading misleading information and overly optimistic projections after the head of the Food and Drug Administration made clear that the drugs Trump discussed were still being tested for their effectiveness and safety. That process takes months and may or may not yield any results.
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers worked urgently toward a $1 trillion aid package to prop up households and the U.S. economy that would put money directly into American’s pockets. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has proposed making direct payments of $1,200 per person, $2,400 for couples and $500 for each child, according to a copy of the legislation obtained by The Associated Press.
Congress has also been discussing loans that would have to be paid back to shore up airlines and other industries and was working to increase production of medical supplies and build temporary field hospitals under new authorities unlocked when Trump invoked the Defense Production Act Wednesday.
Finance: stronger day for Wall Street
Stocks capped a wobbly day on Wall Street with solid gains Thursday, reflecting cautious optimism among investors that emergency action by the U.S. government and central banks will cushion the global economy from a looming recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The swings in the market were markedly less volatile than recent days. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained almost 200 points, or 0.9%. The S&P 500 rose 0.5% after bouncing between a gain of 2.9% and a loss of 3.3% early. That would be a notable change in normal times, but the index has had eight straight days where it bounced up or down between 4.9% and 12%.
In another sign that shell-shocked investors were becoming a little more willing to hold riskier assets, stocks of smaller companies rose far more than the rest of the market. Those stocks had taken some of the heaviest losses since the sell-off began in early March.
Markets have been so volatile because investors are weighing the increasing likelihood of a recession on one hand against huge, emergency efforts to prop up the economy on the other. Markets got more of each on Thursday.
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits jumped by 70,000 last week, more than economists expected, in one of the first signs of layoffs sweeping across the country. Wide swaths of the economy are grinding closer to a standstill, from the travel industry to restaurants, as authorities ask Americans to stay home to slow the spread of the virus. Another weak manufacturing report, this time in the mid-Atlantic region, added to the worries.
But the world’s largest central banks announced their latest efforts to support financial markets and the economy. The European Central Bank launched an expanded program to buy up to 750 billion euros ($820 billion) in bonds, and the Bank of England cut its key interest rate to a record low of 0.1%.
The Federal Reserve unveiled measures to support money-market funds and the borrowing of dollars as investors in markets worldwide hurry to build up dollars and cash. The dash for cash has strained markets, and sellers of even high-quality bonds say they’re having difficulty finding buyers at reasonable prices. Many of the Fed’s moves, which are getting revived after being used in the 2008 financial crisis, are aimed at smoothing out operations in such markets.
Governor Abbott Issues Executive Orders To Mitigate Spread Of COVID-19 In Texas
WHEREAS, the novel coronavirus (COVD-19) has been recognized globally as a contagious respiratory virus; and
WHEREAS, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, issued a disaster proclamation on March 13, 2020, certifying that COVJD-19 poses an imminent threat of disaster for all counties in the state of Texas; and
WHEREAS, COVID-19 continues to spread and to pose an increasing, imminent threat of disaster throughout Texas; and
WHEREAS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised that person-to-person contact heightens the risk of COVID-19 transmission; and
WHEREAS, the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America, as promulgated by President Donald J. Trump and the CDC on March 16, 2020, call upon Americans to slow the spread of COVID-19 by avoiding social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people, using drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options at restaurants and bars, and avoiding visitation at nursing homes, among other steps; and
WHEREAS, the Texas Department of State Health Services has now determined that, as of March 19, 2020, COVID- 19 represents a public health disaster within the meaning of Chapter 81 of the Texas Health and Safety Code; and
WHEREAS, under the Texas Disaster Act of 1975, “[t]he governor is responsible for meeting . . . the dangers to the state and people presented by disasters” (Section 418.001 of the Texas Government Code), and the legislature has given the governor broad authority to fulfill that responsibility.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the State of Texas, do hereby order the following on a statewide basis effective 11:59 p.m. on March 20, 2020, and continuing until 11:59 p.m. on April 3, 2020, subject to extension thereafter based on the status of COVID-19 in Texas and the recommendations of the CDC:
Order No. 1 – In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, every person in Texas shall avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.
Order No. 2 – In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, people shall avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, or visiting gyms or massage parlors; provided, however, that the use of drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options is allowed and highly encouraged throughout the limited duration of this executive order.
Order No. 3 – In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, people shall not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
Order No. 4 – In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, schools shall temporarily close.
This executive order does not prohibit people from visiting a variety of places, including grocery stores, gas stations, parks, and banks, so long as the necessary precautions are maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. This executive order does not mandate sheltering in place. All critical infrastructure will remain operational, domestic travel will remain unrestricted, and government entities and businesses will continue providing essential services, according to Governor Abbott.
Woodlands Township closes parks
The Woodlands Township Board of Directors voted on Monday, March 16, to close the Township parks, which include tennis courts, basketball courts, skate parks, sportsfields, playgrounds, ponds, dog parks and restrooms to the public. Signs will be placed at each facility, noting that park equipment is not disinfected and unauthorized use is at one’s own risk.
Additionally, the Board and Township have agreed to close all spraygrounds, pools, boathouses, recreation centers and Texas TreeVentures.
“At this time, we simply do not have the capacity to sanitize our 150 parks and playgrounds as people come into contact with each surface,” said Township Chairman of the Board Gordy Bunch. “For the safety and health of our community and children, the Board is asking our residents to avoid utilizing the parks and playgrounds at this time. We recognize that this is a difficult situation for everyone in our community and we ask for your cooperation and patience.”