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RELATED: Know the difference between COVID-19, flu and allergies

Latest local & Texas updates:

Here are the latest updates from around Southeast Texas, Texas, Louisiana and some from the world (all times are local Central Daylight Time):
MORE: More Thursday nation, world coronavirus updates

>>>> Read SE Texas COVID19 updates from Wednesday here <<<<

Key coronavirus updates for Thursday, March 26:

  • Longtime Southeast Texas band director Mike Westbrook has died after contracting COVID-19, multiple sources confirm to 12News.
  • The House will vote Friday on the $2.2 trillion coronavirus economic relief bill. 
  • The U.S. death toll from coronavirus passed 1,000 Wednesday night, according to Johns Hopkins University. Approximately 25% of those are in New York City
  • A U.S. Navy aircraft carrier is being diverted to Guam so that all 5,000 aboard can be tested for coronavirus.
  • The number of worldwide coronavirus cases is nearing 500,000. 
  • Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — almost five times the previous record set in 1982  
  • G20 leaders will hold a virtual summit Thursday in an effort to coordinate a response to the pandemic.

March 26 7:37 p.m. – The Port Arthur Health Department confirms the city's first positive case of COVID-19. Officials say the person is a Port Arthur resident between the ages of 40-50. The health department says they're "conducting an epidemiological investigation and is working closely to identify close contacts of the individual." The case becomes our area's eighteenth. Jefferson County now reports 9 total cases, Hardin County has seen four, Chambers County confirms two and Orange County has one. Liberty County also reports two cases. READ MORE HERE.

As of right now, Beaumont has 8 confirmed cases. Chambers County has 2, Orange County has 1, and Hardin County has 4 for a total of 15 cases in the area.

March 26 4:30 p.m. Lamar Institute of Technology has canceled its 2020 spring commencement. The school says they are surveying prospective graduates to select a new date. READ MORE HERE

March 26 3:25 p.m.   Christus St. Elizabeth hospital has confirmed that a staff member in the emergency department has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The hospital is reaching out to any patients that may have been treated by the staff member according to a news release from Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital.

March 26 3:16 p.m. – Officials say the call center has received 1,014 calls for patient screening as of Thursday. The call center opened on March 20, and since then, 315 people have been referred for testing. Forty people were scheduled for testing at the drive-thru site on Thursday. As of right now, Beaumont has 8 confirmed cases. Chambers County has 2, Orange County has 1, Liberty has 2 and Hardin County has 4 for a total of 17 cases in the area. Officials confirmed one of the COVID-19 patients in Hardin County died. 

March 26 2:35 p.m.   Longtime Southeast Texas band director Mike Westbrook has died after contracting COVID-19, multiple sources confirm to 12News.

The Beaumont Enterprise is also reporting that Westbrook has died. 

Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick confirms to 12News that there has been a death linked to COVID-19, the areas first, but would not confirm a name. Read more here.

March 26 1:20 p.m.   Beaumont Public Health Department confirmed another positive case of COVID-19 in a Beaumont resident bringing the current number to eight in Beaumont. The ages of confirmed cases range from 23 to 79. Six people are recuperating at home and two are hospitalized, according to the health department. Read more here. 

MARCH 26 11 a.m.  –  Jeff Shell, CEO of NBCUniversal, announced Thursday in an email to employees that he had tested positive for COVID-19. Scroll down for more.

MARCH 26 10:30 a.m.  –  Coronavirus concerns keeping people home and OPEC future production disagreements have gas prices almost as low as they were in 2016.

In Southeast Texas gas prices averaged $1.82 per gallon for regular unleaded fuel according to the AAA Texas Weekend Gas Watch.

Last week gas was $1.93 per gallon and a year ago it was $2.38 according to the AAA.

MARCH 26 9:50 a.m.  –  The Life Share bus will be parked at Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas until 5 p.m. Thursday as Life Share Blood Center holds an emergency blood drive. The bus will be parked behind the “professional  building” at the hospital.

MARCH 26 8:30 a.m.  –  Leaders of the world's most powerful economies are convening virtually to coordinate a response to the fast-spreading new coronavirus.

The virus has shuttered businesses and forced well over a quarter of the world's population into home isolation. Thursday's meeting for the Group of 20 nations is being chaired by Saudi Arabia's King Salman. The kingdom, which is presiding over the G20 this year, says it organized the meeting to advance global efforts to tackle the pandemic and its economic implications.

MARCH 26 6:30 a.m.  – NBA star Stephen Curry will host a live Q&A with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. It starts at 1 p.m. EDT and you can see it by following @stephencurry30 on Instagram.

MARCH 26 6:30 a.m.  – Late Wednesday night the Senate passed an unparalleled $2.2 trillion economic rescue package steering aid to businesses, workers and health care systems engulfed by the coronavirus pandemic. Scroll down for more

Scroll down for more updated National & World headlines

Trump say feds developing new guidelines to rate counties for virus risk

President Donald Trump says that federal officials are developing guidelines to rate counties by risk of virus spread.

Trump wants to begin easing nationwide guidelines meant to stem the coronavirus outbreak. In a letter Thursday to the nation's governors, Trump says the new guidelines are meant to enable state and local leaders to make “decisions about maintaining, increasing, or relaxing social distancing and other measures they have put in place.”

Trump has been seeking for days to determine how to contain the economic fallout of the guidelines issued by his administration as well as local leaders to slow the tide of infections. States would still have the authority to set restrictions.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security extends REAL ID deadline

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced on Thursday that the new REAL ID deadline will be October 1, 2021, instead of October 1, 2020.

"I have determined that states require a twelve-month delay and that the new deadline for REAL ID enforcement is October 1, 2021. DHS will publish a notice of the new deadline in the Federal Register in the coming days," Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said.

RELATED: REAL ID deadline to be pushed back a year due to COVID-19

Indy 500 postponed until August

The Indianapolis 500 scheduled for May 24 has been postponed until August because of the coronavirus pandemic and won't run on Memorial Day weekend for the first time since 1946.

The race will instead be held Aug. 23.

It was an inevitable decision but still had to be difficult for Roger Penske, who completed his purchase of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar in January and has already pumped millions into capital improvements to ready the historic venue for its first 500 under new ownership.

IndyCar was supposed to resume racing May 9 on the road course at Indianapolis.

That race will now be run on July 4, a day before NASCAR races at The Brickyard.

U.S. aircraft carrier has 'dozens' sick with coronavirus

The Navy says an outbreak of COVID-19 infections aboard an aircraft carrier in the Pacific has forced it to divert to Guam so that all 5,000 aboard will undergo testing.

The acting secretary of the Navy, Thomas Modly, told reporters that the carrier remains “operationally capable.” Even so, other officials said the number of infected sailors has risen sharply, from three reported initially to “dozens” as of Thursday.

Modly said the carrier, which is the first U.S. Navy ship to have a reported outbreak while at sea, had about 800 COVID-19 test kits aboard and more were being delivered. He said the initially reported cases were sailors with relatively mild symptoms.

The Navy said earlier this week that the Theodore Roosevelt’s most recent port call was in Vietnam.

Pelosi: House will vote on stimulus plan on Friday

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she expects the $2.2 trillion coronavirus economic relief bill will pass the House on Friday with "strong bipartisan support. 

Pelosi said the plan “takes us a long way down the road in meeting the needs of the American people."

The measure is set for House passage on Friday and President Donald Trump's immediate signature. The 880-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history. 

Number of infections surpasses 500,000 worldwide

The number of coronavirus infections has surpassed a half-million worldwide Thursday, with both Italy and the U.S. on track to surpass China. 

Health care systems in Europe and New York buckled under the strain, with Spain's death toll climbing to more than 4,000.

At least 2.8 billion people, or more than one-third of the Earth's population, are under severe travel restrictions

China bars most foreigners

China is temporarily barring all foreign nationals from entry as it seeks to curb the number of imported COVID-19 cases.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that foreign nationals with residence permits will be prevented from entering the country starting on Saturday. All visa-free transit policies also will be temporarily suspended.

Diplomatic workers will be exempt, while foreign nationals coming to China for “necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities or out of emergency humanitarian needs” can still apply for visas, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

U.S. sailor in southern Spain tests positive

Officials say a U.S. Navy sailor stationed at a naval base in southern Spain has tested positive for the coronavirus.

A statement from Naval Station Rota says an investigation is under way to track who had contact with the sailor.

The base supports U.S. and NATO vessels.

NBCUniversal CEO tests positive for COVID-19

Jeff Shell, CEO of NBCUniversal, announced Thursday in an email to employees that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

Shell was named CEO in January.

According to NBC News, Shell stressed the importance of working from home in his email. "Although the virus has been tough to cope with, I have managed to work remotely in LA and am improving every day," he said.

WNBA draft will be virtual event this season due to pandemic

The WNBA has announced its draft will be a virtual event this season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The draft will be held on April 17 as originally scheduled but will be broadcast without players, fans or media in attendance. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert says the league is still looking at different scenarios for the start of the regular season, but notes it could begin before the NBA resumes play.

One option for the WNBA could be to move its schedule back with the postponement of the 2020 Olympics. The league was scheduled to go on a month-long break starting July 10 during the Tokyo Games.  

US jobless claims hit 3.3 million, quadruple previous record

A record-high number of people applied for unemployment benefits last week as layoffs engulfed the United States in the face of a near-total economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus. 

The surge in weekly applications for benefits far exceeded the previous record set in 1982. Layoffs are sure to accelerate as the U.S. economy sinks into what most economists expect to be deep and painful recession. 

Revenue has collapsed at restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, gyms and airlines. Auto sales are plummeting, and car makers have close factories. Most such employers face loan payments and other fixed costs, so they're forced to cut jobs to save money.  

World leaders meeting virtually to coordinate virus response

Leaders of the world's most powerful economies are convening virtually to coordinate a response to the fast-spreading new coronavirus.

The virus has shuttered businesses and forced well over a quarter of the world's population into home isolation. Thursday's meeting for the Group of 20 nations is being chaired by Saudi Arabia's King Salman. The kingdom, which is presiding over the G20 this year, says it organized the meeting to advance global efforts to tackle the pandemic and its economic implications.

People worldwide are losing their incomes amid closures, curfews and lockdowns, and the meeting comes amid criticism that the world's wealthiest countries have not taken cohesive action against the virus or its economic impact.

Steph Curry hosts Dr. Fauci Q&A

NBA star Stephen Curry will host a live Q&A with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. It starts at 1 p.m. EDT and you can see it by following @stephencurry30 on Instagram.

McDonald's suspends all-day breakfast

McDonald's is temporarily halting its all-day breakfast menu to simplify its operations, according to USA TODAY.

The fast-food company says the move was made to make things simpler for its crews during the pandemic.

McDonald's has closed all its seating and play areas in its company-owned U.S. restaurants.

Britain orders 10,000 ventilators

Britain’s government has ordered 10,000 ventilators to grapple with the COVID-19 crisis.

Billionaire inventor James Dyson told his staff in an email that a team of engineers had been working on a design for the last 10 days since receiving a request for help from Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Dyson says the device draws on technology used in the company's air purifier ranges and is powered by a digital motor.

The device was created in partnership with Cambridge-based science engineering firm TTP and still must face regulatory approval.

Britain wants to increase the availability of ventilators from 8,000 to 30,000.

Weekly new unemployment claims expected to shatter record

U.S. Department of Labor figures to be released Thursday are expected to shatter the old record for the greatest number of new unemployment claims filed in a single week. There are more suddenly jobless Americans than during the Great Recession.

Some economists project that the U.S. could see around 3 million new unemployment insurance claims when figures are released for the week of March 15-21. That would be around 12 times as many as the previous week.

In Labor Department records dating to 1967, the largest seasonally adjusted one-week number of new unemployment insurance claims was 695,000 in October 1982, when the national unemployment rate was around 10%.

Before coronavirus concerns escalated this month, the U.S. unemployment rate had been at a 50-year-low of 3.5%

G20 leaders to meet in virtual coronavirus summit

 Leaders of the world's most powerful economies will convene virtually on Thursday to try and coordinate a response to the fast-spreading coronavirus, which has shuttered businesses and forced well over 1.5 billion people into home isolation.

The meeting for the Group of 20 nations will be chaired by Saudi Arabia's King Salman. The kingdom, which is presiding over the G20 this year, said it organized the extraordinary meeting to advance global efforts to tackle the pandemic and its economic implications as people lose their incomes amid closures, curfews and lockdowns.

The meeting comes amid criticism that the world's wealthiest countries have not taken cohesive action to combat the virus or its economic impact on people around the world.

Russia halts all international flights

Russian government officials announced the halting of all international flights starting from Friday.

An exception will be made for flights bringing Russians home from abroad, according to a statement published Thursday on the cabinet’s website.

Earlier this month, Russian authorities limited its air traffic to regular flights to world capitals and charter flights.

The new measure comes as the number of coronavirus cases in Russia rapidly grows. On Wednesday, the government reported a total of 658 cases, with 163 new cases registered since the previous day. That is a significantly bigger daily increase than in previous weeks, when the number of cases was growing by several dozens a day.

Malaysian king and queen in quarantine

Malaysia's king and queen are under quarantine after seven palace staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

The palace said Thursday that seven staff were hospitalized Tuesday and health authorities were trying to identify the source of the transmission. It said King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah and his wife Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah were tested for the virus, but both were negative. It said the royal couple decided to observe a 14-day self-quarantine from Wednesday, with deep cleansing to be carried out in the palace.

Malaysia, which has 21 deaths and the highest total of cases in Southeast Asia at 1,796, has extended its lockdown by another two weeks to April 14.

Senate passes rescue bill 

The Senate has passed an unparalleled $2.2 trillion economic rescue package steering aid to businesses, workers and health care systems engulfed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 883-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history. The unanimous vote comes despite misgivings on both sides about whether it goes too far or not far enough.

The bill would provide one-time direct payments to Americans of $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year, and $2,400 to a married couple making up to $150,000, with $500 payments per child.

A huge cash infusion for hospitals expecting a flood of COVID-19 patients grew during the talks to an estimated $130 billion. Another $45 billion would fund additional relief through the Federal Emergency Management Agency for local response efforts and community services.

RELATED: Senate passes $2.2 trillion coronavirus rescue plan; House still to vote

US death toll passes 1,000

New York authorities mobilized to head off a public health disaster with the city's emergence as the nation's biggest coronavirus hot spot a warning flare — and perhaps a cautionary tale for the country.

U.S. deaths from the pandemic topped 1,000 Wednesday night, according to Johns Hopkins University. Approximately 25% of those were in New York City.

Health officials in New York hunted down beds and equipment and put out a call for more doctors and nurses for fear the number of sick will overwhelm hospitals, as has happened in Italy and Spain.  

RELATED: US coronavirus deaths pass 1,000; New York struggling

Drugmaker backpedals on specialty status for COVID-19 drug

Facing public criticism, the maker of a promising coronavirus drug said Wednesday it will waive a special regulatory designation that could have allowed it to block competition and boost profits for its treatment.

Gilead Sciences said it will ask U.S. regulators to revoke the so-called “orphan drug” status it received for its experimental drug remdesivir. The status would have entitled the company to financial incentives and exclusive marketing intended for rare disease treatments.

The Food and Drug Administration granted the company's request for the designation on Monday, noting that COVID-19 qualified as a rare disease under U.S. rules, since fewer than 200,000 Americans are infected.

But experts and public advocates blasted Gilead for seeking the status.