BEAUMONT, Texas —
Today's top headlines:
- Galveston National Lab Researcher shares new COVID-19 findings, vaccine in the works
- Coronavirus legal questions: Unemployment, child custody and gathering
- Port Arthur's Inika McPhereson supports postponement of Tokyo Olympics
- Drive-thru coronavirus testing center up and running in Southeast Texas
- Southeast Texas officials stress need to call ahead before seeking a coronavirus test
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 Wednesday nation, world coronavirus updates
Key coronavirus updates for Wednesday, March 25:
- A construction worker at the new Raiders stadium in Las Vegas has tested positive for the new coronavirus.
- A U.S. Marine has become the first person stationed at the Pentagon to test positive for coronavirus.
- The Pentagon has halted movement of U.S. troops and Defense Department civilians overseas.
- The White House says New York residents who left the metro area recently should self-isolate for 14 days.
- Officials in New York say morgues there are near capacity, while Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti says the city is "about six to 12 days behind" New York City.
- Senate Republicans held a press conference to update the public on coronavirus legislation.
- Canada announced it is imposing mandatory self-isolation for those returning to the country under the Quarantine Act.
- The White House and Congressional leaders reached a deal on a $2 trillion rescue package Wednesday to help working and laid-off Americans, businesses and hospitals. It still faces votes in the House and Senate.
- The Department of Education suspended collection of student loan debt.
- Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, has tested positive for coronavirus. The palace says he has mild symptoms.
- New Zealand has declared a state of emergency.
- South Korea is sending testing materials to the U.S. It is also issuing a quarantine for people arriving from the U.S.
- Britain will shut down Parliament for four weeks.
MARCH 25 5:08 p.m. – Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick confirmed to 12News that his wife's coronavirus test results came back negative. Branick said he will return to the courthouse on Thursday morning.
MARCH 25 3:20 p.m. – The call center set up for screening people who wish to be tested for coronavirus in the six-county region has received 832 calls as of Wednesday. Officials say 187 people have been referred for testing since the call center opened on March 20. On average, each test is taking about 5 minutes per patient. Thirty-two people were scheduled for testing at the Nederland drive-through site Wednesday.
MARCH 25 3:00 p.m. – Tyler County has officially joined five other Southeast Texas counties in the fight against the coronavirus.
The county first had to get mutual aid agreements in place with the other counties according to Ken Jobe at the Tyler County Emergency Management Center. Tyler County residents who feel they need a coronavirus test can call the Southeast Texas Regional Operation Center's "health hotline" at (409) 550-2536 to be pre-screened.
MARCH 25 2:55 p.m. – Beaumont Municipal Transit System limits the number of passengers allowed on buses. No more than ten passengers will be allowed on a bus at once. If the bus already has ten passengers, others will have to wait for the next bus to arrive. There will be signs on the buses and bus stops that will keep people aware of this new rule, according to Beaumont Transit representative, William Munson.
MARCH 25 1:24p.m. – Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission have sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeking permission to allow SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients to use their benefits at take-out and drive-thru restaurants. If approved, the governor's office said it would open up another food source to 3.2 million Texans.
MARCH 25 1:15 p.m. — 64 Louisianians have died from COVID-19, the deadly respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus. Nearly 1,800 people across the state have tested positive for the virus out of the roughly 11,450 whose results have been processed.
MARCH 25 1:05 p.m. -- Galveston County reports is 22nd case. A male in his 40s with no travel history and no known contact with a COVID-19 patient.
MARCH 25 11:36 a.m. — Judge Jeff Branick tells 12News that a stay at home order will not be issued today. He says that local county judges will be adding an addendum that will be issued today. That addendum will limit the number of adults going to stores to one per household. MORE INFO COMING.
MARCH 25 11:30 a.m. — An 18-wheeler loaded with 42,000 pounds of non-perishable food items is due to arrive today for the Southeast Texas Food Bank and the United Christian Care Center food pantry in Vidor.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is sending the truckload of food for those in need who can’t get top a grocery store.
The church operates food processing plants and canneries nationwide and has scaled up food production to help during the coronavirus pandemic. They’re also donating medical and emergency supplies to 16 countries worldwide.
MARCH 25 11:30 a.m. — Amid the financial crisis caused by COVID-19, the City of Hutto has made the decision to eliminate numerous non-essential services and lay off workers. On Wednesday, March 25, a public information officer told KVUE that the City of Hutto is experiencing a financial crisis, and as a result, laid off 48 city workers. "Our City is being challenged during this pandemic and the City is facing a significant impact to the financial health of the City," the PIO said.
MARCH 25 9:38 a.m. — Tilman Fertitta, one of Houston’s most famous billionaires, says he had to temporarily lay off 40,000 workers at his casino, hotel and restaurant businesses due to the coronavirus shut-down, reports Bloomberg News. Read more here.
MARCH 25 9:20 a.m. — Starbucks is now offering free coffee nationwide to first responders and frontline workers dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The company said from now until May 3, any customer who identifies themselves as a first responder or worker supporting the healthcare system will receive a free tall brewed coffee. Read more here.
MARCH 25 8 a.m. — Houston star fashion designer Chloe Dao is stepping up to help those looking for face masks. Dao and her team have been working hard to make washable face masks for those who need them in the Houston area. Read more here.
MARCH 25 8 a.m. — President Donald Trump has approved Gov. John Bel Edwards request for a disaster declaration in Louisiana, meaning the federal government can now reimburse state and local governments for the costs of battling the coronavirus. So far, the state has spent $71 million responding to the pandemic. The death toll in the state rose to 46. There have been 1,388 cases in 42 parishes.
Scroll down for more updated National & World headlines
There are more than 425,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide as of Wednesday morning, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. That includes nearly 19,000 deaths and 109,000 recoveries.
The United States has 55,225 cases and 802 deaths as of 5:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday. More than 350 people have recovered.
Prince Charles has coronavirus
Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, has tested positive for the new coronavirus.
The prince's Clarence House office says the 71-year-old is showing mild symptoms of COVID-19 and is self-isolating at a royal estate in Scotland.
It says his wife Camilla has tested negative.
NFL to implement coronavirus rules
The NFL sent a memo to all 32 teams instituting new rules reflecting state and local government's efforts to protect the spread of coronavirus.
ESPN obtained Tuesday night's memo from commissioner Roger Goodell. Goodell said that he wanted to "ensure that all clubs operate on a level playing field, and that the NFL continues to conduct itself in a responsible way at this time."
The memo only allows employees providing ongoing medical treatment, security and technology support in to team facilities.
The facility closures will continue until at least April 8 when the league "will assess the advice from medical experts and public health authorities to determine whether it is safe and appropriate for facilities to reopen or to extend the period of closure."
Britain to shut down parliament
Britain’s Parliament is set to shut down for at least four weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Lawmakers have continued to attend -- though in smaller numbers — despite the spread of COVID-19, which has reached 8,077 confirmed cases and 422 deaths in the U.K. Visitors have been banned from the Parliament buildings and some staff have been working from home.
With Britons now ordered to stay home and all but essential shops shut, Parliament is expected to shut down once lawmakers have approved an emergency law on Wednesday giving the government more powers to fight the coronavirus.
Anheuser-Busch to start producing and distributing hand sanitizer
Anheuser-Busch, the beer company that produces Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck's, say they are going to begin producing and distributing bottles of hand sanitizer to help fill the growing demand.
"As a first step, we are using our supply and logistics network to produce and distribute bottles of hand sanitizer to our internal teams and, with the help and direction of the American Red Cross, to the communities where it’s needed most," a company spokesman said in a statement.
South Korea sending testing materials to U.S.
South Korea says it plans to provide coronavirus testing materials to the United States in response to President Donald Trump’s request for help.
Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the country is willing to send chemical reagents used to extract genetic material during COVID-19 tests, but at a level that doesn’t affect its own testing capacity.
She didn’t provide a detailed estimate on the size of supplies that could be shipped to the United States.
Massive rescue package deal reached on Capitol Hill
The White House and Senate leaders of both parties have struck an agreement on a sweeping $2 trillion measure to aid workers, businesses and a health care system strained by the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak.
The agreement came after days of often intense haggling and mounting pressure and still needs to be finalized in detailed legislative language.
The unprecedented economic rescue package would give direct payments to most Americans, expand unemployment benefits and provide a $367 billion program for small businesses to keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home.
One of the last issues to close concerned $500 billion for guaranteed, subsidized loans to larger industries, including a fight over how generous to be with the airlines. Hospitals would get significant help as well.
New Zealand declares state of emergency
New Zealand has declared a state of emergency as it prepares to go into an unprecedented lockdown late Wednesday for about a month.
The declaration temporarily gives police and the military extra powers. And Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says any New Zealanders returning home from overseas who show symptoms of COVID-19 will be put in isolation at an approved facility.
"I have one simple message for New Zealanders today as we head into the next four weeks: ‘stay at home,'" Ardern said. "It will break the chain of transmission and it will save lives.”
South Korea issues quarantine on people arriving from US
South Korea says it will enforce 14-day quarantines on South Korean nationals and foreigners with long-term stay visas arriving from the United States starting Friday.
The measures come as authorities scramble to prevent the coronavirus from re-entering the country amid broadening outbreaks in the West.
Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun says stronger controls were needed considering the increasing number of students and other South Korean nationals returning from the United States, where the virus has been spreading rapidly.