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COVID-19 Updates: Formal TEA request made to delay STAAR testing; Beaumont reports 46 new cases in city

Here is a look at some of the latest coronavirus news and updates for Friday.

BEAUMONT, Texas — This article contains ongoing U.S. and international updates on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. Here are some key updates for Friday, July 10, 2020. You can find more details by scrolling through the story which we are updating throughout the day. The newest items will be at the top.

Today's Headlines:

Latest updates:
Here are the latest updates from around Southeast Texas, Texas, Louisiana and some from the world (all times are local Central Daylight Time)

July 10, 5:15 p.m. – House Representative Dade Phelan makes formal request to the Texas Education Agency for educators to focus on health, safety and education rather than standardized testing for the 2020-2021 academic school year.

Phelan said operating safely and successful will be difficult enough for the education system.

“As we prepare for the challenges of re-opening schools, I request that TEA not resume the state of Texas assessments of academic readiness. By not requiring the star test for the 2020- 2021 school year, the state will allow our teachers and administrators to concentrate on health, safety and education of our students rather than focus on standardized testing,” said Phelan in a news release.

July 10, 4:15 p.m. –  The Beaumont Public Health Department reported 49 new cases of COVID-19 in the Beaumont area.Beaumont alone logged 46 new cases with the other three coming from Fannett.

July 10, 3:30 p.m. – Port Arthur Independent School District and West Orange-Cove Consolidated Independent School District are the latest districts to release plans for reopening schools in August.

Each district takes their own approach to screenings and face masks as well as options for parents who want to have their child do virtual learning. 

RELATED: PAISD, WOCCISD release back to school plans

July 10, 3 p.m. – Gather: Paleo Cafe and Market in Port Neches announced the cafe is closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gather's last day of operation will be August 15. 

"Please do us the honor of sharing these last few weeks with us when you possibly can," one of the three sisters who owns the cafe, Chrystal Lundy said in the post. "These years have been by far the most rewarding years of our lives, and I don’t how to fully explain how much we will miss this work." 

July 10, 2:40 p.m. – Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation Friday, extending the disaster declaration for all Texas counties in response to the surge in COVID-19 cases in the state of Texas. 

The disaster declaration, originally issued March 13, provides Texas counties with COVID-19 resources needed to slow the spread.

"Extending this Disaster Declaration helps ensure that Texas has the resources and flexibility needed to effectively respond to COVID-19," said Governor Abbott. "To further mitigate the spread of the virus and overcome this challenge, Texans should continue to do their part by wearing a mask, social distancing, and staying home if possible."

As of July 9, Texas has more than 230,000 positive COVID-19 cases and 2,918 fatalities. 

July 10, 2 p.m. –  In an interview with CBS19 on Friday, Governor Greg Abbott said a lack of masks and a spike in COVID-19 could, as a last resort, lead to "the necessity of closing Texas down."

He also said he's disappointed some local governments refuse to enforce his recently issued Executive Order.

July 10, 1:30 p.m. – As parts of the country see spikes in coronavirus cases, deaths have so far remained much lower than the earlier months of the pandemic

According to data from The New York Times, states reported seven-day new-death averages higher than 2,000 a day for about half of April. As of July 10, that seven-day average peaked at 608. 

RELATED: Why experts say COVID-19 death rate doesn't give full picture of current situation

But is this decrease in deaths actually a hopeful sign in the fight against the virus? Experts say we’re not in the clear yet. READ MORE

July 10, 12 p.m. – Newton County is now included in the state’s face mask order after the number of cases in the county surpassed the limit set in the governor’s order.

The county recently exceeded 21 infected residents and as of July 9, 2020, all persons in the county must wear a protective face covering according to a news release from the office of Newton County Judge Kenneth Weeks.

A mask must be worn when people are inside business or other spaces open to the public or in an outdoor area where 6-foot social distancing is not feasible from people not living in the same household the release said.

July 10, 11:45 a.m. – The Mid-County Tax Office will reopen to the public Monday, July 13 with normal business hours from 8 a.m. to 430 p.m. Visitors will have their temperature taken with infrared thermometers and required to wear a mask to enter, Jefferson County tax collector-assessor Allison Getz said. Social distancing requirements will be followed along with prevenative measures like protective glass and hand sanitizer. 

July 10, 11 a.m. – Many Americans that have been out of work during the coronavirus pandemic have been counting on the extra $600 a week from unemployment to make ends meet. However, they might be surprised to learn that the extra money might end sooner than expected.

The additional $600 from the federal government officially ends on July 31, but states can only pay through the week ending on July 25 or July 26. 

July 10, 10:30 a.m. – A collaboration of scientific minds in Houston led to the development of what could be a game-changer in the fight against the coronavirus.

It started with an idea from Medistar founder Monzer Hourani: a filter that could kill coronavirus. His company approached researchers at the Texas Center for Conductivity at UH, led by Dr. Zhifeng Ren.

His team figured out the best possible solution would be to heat the filter, zapping the virus.

July 10, 8 a.m. The U.S. Roman Catholic Church used a special and unprecedented exemption from federal rules to amass at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid, with many millions going to dioceses that have paid huge settlements or sought bankruptcy protection because of clergy sexual abuse cover-ups.

The church’s haul may have reached -- or even exceeded -- $3.5 billion, making a global religious institution with more than a billion followers among the biggest winners in the U.S. government’s pandemic relief efforts, an Associated Press analysis of federal data released this week found.

July 10, 6:30 a.m. – Drive-Thru coronavirus testing is available today from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. at Sour Lake Elementary School, 1055 Hwy. 326. Call 844-778-2455 or go to TXCOVIDTEST.ORG

Testing is also available Friday in Buna at the Jasper County sub courthouse, Buna at 33625 US-96.

RELATED: Where can I get a COVID-19 test?

MORE | Find more COVID-19 testing sites in Texas

July 10, 6 a.m. – Two World Health Organization experts will spend the next two days in the Chinese capital to lay the groundwork for a larger mission to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

An animal health expert and an epidemiologist will meet Chinese counterparts in Beijing on Saturday and Sunday to fix the “scope and terms of reference” for a WHO-led international mission aimed at learning how the virus jumped from animals to humans, an agency statement said.

July 10, 5 a.m. – Your COVID-19 test should be free, according to Ben Gonzalez, who works in the media relations department of the Texas Department of Insurance.

“The federal law that allows (COVID-19) tests to be free right now says that they have to be medically necessary,” Gonzalez said. “If you don't have your own primary care physician, you have to see a doctor that will give you that order that says you need a COVID-19 test.”

Here’s the breakdown by county of coronavirus cases for the eight-county Southeast Texas region...

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Coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.

Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...

  • The air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Help stop the spread of coronavirus 

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Eat and sleep separately from your family members
  • Use different utensils and dishes
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash

Lower your risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.

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