Updated: A timeline of coronavirus in Texas— and Abbott’s response

by | Mar 23, 2020 | Coronavirus, Policy

It’s been a crazy few months as the COVID-19 pandemic rages across the country and the world. 
To help you keep up with it all, the Signal is continuing its timeline of the outbreak in Texas and the government’s response.

Dec. 10: Doctors in Wuhan, China begin treating patients sick from an unknown illness causing pneumonia. 

  • That same month, the virus is identified as a novel coronavirus and the World Health Organization is informed.

Jan 21: the U.S. confirms first coronavirus case.

Jan. 27: Abbott meets with state health officials, promises resources and preventative measures for Texas.

Jan. 30: World Health Organization declares a global emergency as the total number of confirmed cases across the world approaches 10,000.

Feb. 7: Americans begin returning home from Hubei Province and are flown into San Antonio’s Lackland Air Force Base for quarantine.

  • Two weeks later, American passengers evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship previously docked in Japan are quarantined at the Air Force base.

Feb: 27: Abbott meets with state health agencies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Vice President Mike Pence. The governor says the state has been preparing for the outbreak for more than a month.

Feb. 28: A Montgomery County, Texas man who would later test positive for coronavirus attends the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

  • Donald Trump refers to the coronavirus outbreak as the Democrat’s “new hoax” at a campaign rally.

March 2: San Antonio declares a local state of disaster and public safety emergency after woman quarantined Lackland Air Force Base is released despite testing positive. 

March 4: The first coronavirus case is confirmed in Texas.

  • An elderly Fort Bend Bend tests positive for Covid-19 after traveling abroad, the first confirmed case in the state unrelated to those quarantined in San Antonio. Harris County health officials say the elderly man makes contact with 10 people who are later placed on self-quarantine. 
  • Austin cancels South by Southwest two days later.

March 5: Texas public health labs begin testing for coronavirus, but capacity is limited due to a shortage of resources and tests are difficult to acquire

March 8: Sen. Ted Cruz self-quarantines.

March 11: Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is canceled. 

  • That same day, the World Health Organization declares the virus a pandemic. 

March 13: Gov. Greg Abbott declares statewide public health disaster. 

  • The governor promises drive-thru testing in major Texas cities, starting in San Antonio.
  • Texas has 39 confirmed cases by this point. In a press conference announcing the disaster declaration, Abbott says only 220 people have been tested so far.
  • President Donald Trump declares a national emergency.

March: 19: Abbott introduces statewide closures for bars, restaurants, and schools. Forty-three other states have already closed schools by this point. 

March 20: Houston— Texas’ largest city and the heart of the emerging outbreak in the state— receives its first drive-thru testing location.

March 22:  Abbott says the state has reached 566 confirmed cases and 7 have died from the virus.

March 23: Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick suggests that the elderly should sacrifice themselves for the economy.

  •   “My message is that, let’s get back to work, let’s get back to living, let’s be smart about it and those of us who are 70 plus, we’ll take care of ourselves — but don’t sacrifice the country,” said Patrick in an interview with Tucker Carlson.

March 24: Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announces a “stay home-work safe” order.

  • The same day, 65 members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus urge Governor Greg Abbott to issue a statewide stay-at-home order. 

March 25: Number of confirmed cases in Texas nears 1,000

  • The death toll reaches 1,000 nationwide.
  • A 37-year-old Galveston man becomes the first Texas prisoner to test positive for COVID-19.

March 26: The United States becomes the country with the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world, with 82,000 known cases

March 27: House passes $2 trillion economic relief package, which Trump signs into law.

March 28: Over 250,000 Texans file for unemployment relief for the week ending on the 28th.

March 29: Trump extends social distancing guidelines to April 30.

March 30: The Houston-area sees more than 1,000 confirmed cases.

  • A Trump-appointed judge blocks Dallas’ paid sick leave ordinance

March 31: Abbott asks Texans to stay at home except for essential activity, but declines to call it a stay-at-home or shelter-in-place order.

  • Abbott also says that schools will stay closed until May 4.
  • The White House task force projects that 100,000 to 240,000 Americans will die from COVID-19

April 1: Nearly 1,000 deaths are reported in one day in the United States.  

April 2: The number of confirmed cases across the globe reaches one million, with 50,000 deaths. 

  • The number of cases in Texas is 4,669, with 70 deaths.

Photo: Dan Tian/Xinhua via Getty Images

fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at fernando@texassignal.com

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