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Coronavirus in Texas

Coronavirus in Texas: Neiman Marcus preparing to declare bankruptcy; thousands line up for food in Houston

Our staff is closely tracking developments on the new coronavirus in Texas. Check here for live updates.

Medical equipment in an intensive care unit during a media tour of a medical shelter at NRG Park in Houston on April 11, 2...

The weekend's biggest developments:

  • Texas has reported nearly 19,000 cases of the new coronavirus and 477 deaths
  • Neiman Marcus poised to file for bankruptcy, Reuters reports
  • Thousands line up for free groceries in Houston
  • 38 guests test positive for coronavirus at a Dallas homeless shelter

Texas reports 18,923 cases and 477 deaths

[12 p.m.] Texas reported 663 more cases of the new coronavirus Sunday, an increase of about 4% over the previous day, bringing the total number of known cases to 18,923.

Three new counties reported their first cases Sunday; three quarters of the state’s 254 counties have reported at least one case.Harris County has reported the most cases, 4,653, followed by Dallas County, which has reported 2,324 cases. See maps of the latest case numbers for each county and case rates per 1,000 residents.

The state has reported 24 additional deaths, bringing the statewide total to 477 — an increase of about 5% from Saturday. Harris County reported four additional deaths, bringing its total to 71 deaths, more than any other county.

As of Sunday, 1,471 patients are known to be hospitalized in Texas. That’s an increase of 150 patients from Saturday. At least 182,710 tests have been conducted. — Darla Cameron

Report: Neiman Marcus preparing to declare bankruptcy

[10:45 a.m.] Neiman Marcus Group, one of Texas’ iconic retail brands, is preparing to declare bankruptcy due to economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, sources told Reuters.

Its flagship company, Dallas-based Neiman Marcus, would be the first major U.S. department store to suffer an economic blow of this magnitude during the pandemic. The move comes after NMG was forced to temporarily close all 43 Neiman Marcus locations, about two dozen Last Call stores and its two Bergdorf Goodman stores in New York. It had already furloughed some of its 14,000 employees.

Credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s lowered Neiman Marcus’ rating, saying that “in light of the significant headwinds stemming from the coronavirus pandemic and our expectation for a U.S. recession this year, we believe the company’s prospects for a turnaround are increasingly low.” — Naomi Andu

More than 4,500 line up for free groceries in Houston

[10:13 a.m.] Houston Independent School District distributed free groceries Saturday to people in more than 4,000 vehicles at NRG Stadium, the Houston Chronicle reported. A separate line drew an additional 500 people on foot.

So many vehicles had lined up by 1:30 p.m. that the site — the first of its kind in Houston — opened nearly three hours early. The last vehicle received food at 6:15 p.m., according to Houston Food Bank spokesperson Paula Murphy.

HISD will continue food distribution in some form through the summer, Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said. On Saturday, she said HISD did not keep track of who was in line or whether the recipient had a student in the school district. “I feel confident these are our families,” Lathan said. “At the end of the day, we are one community.” — Naomi Andu

Dallas homeless shelter reports 38 cases

[9:40 a.m. Saturday] On Friday, Dallas officials were notified that a privately-operated homeless shelter, Dallas Life, had reported 17 guests who tested positive for the new coronavirus. The number has now increased to 38, according to the shelter’s executive director Rev. Bob Sweeney, who confirmed the figure on Friday to The Dallas Morning News.

On Friday morning, the city relocated 164 guests at this shelter to a hotel while the facility undergoes a thorough cleaning, according to Roxana Rubio, the city’s public affairs officer.

“[The City’s Office of Homeless Solutions] is working collaboratively with the shelter and the organization is providing staff and operational support at the hotel site,” Rubio said. “OHS is also working with the medical community to provide guests in the hotel virtual appointments and check-ins throughout their stay.”

Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang told county commissioners Friday that up to 200 staffers and residents at the shelter had been exposed. Sweeney told the News that the outbreak started when the first person of three tested positive for the virus eight days ago. As of Friday evening, he said, 47 people had tested negative.

Rubio told The Texas Tribune that because of limited social distancing abilities among the homeless, Dallas’ Office of Homeless Solutions began operating a temporary, overnight shelter at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center on March 15. To date, there have not been any positive coronavirus cases inside of the center, the spokeswoman said. — Alex Samuels and Cassi Pollock

Local officials criticize prison officials for moving infected inmates to Brazoria County units

[5 a.m. Saturday] Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, and Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta are criticizing Texas prison officials for moving more than 100 inmates infected with the novel coronavirus to units in their county, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Both men indicated they weren't told about the Texas Department of Criminal Justice plan and Bonnen delivered to Gov. Greg Abbott a letter Sebesta wrote complaining about the matter, the paper reported.

“We need to know so we can let the public know,” Sebesta reportedly said. “We’re increasing the chances for the spread of the disease, not only for the prisoners that are normally housed here, but for the guards and their families.”

By Thursday, 327 Texas prisoners had tested positive for the coronavirus. A total of 531 tests had been completed of the approximately 140,000 inmates in the state’s prison system, according to TDCJ reports. More than 25 of the state’s more than 100 prison units were on lockdown — where all activity is halted and inmates are largely kept to their dorms or cells — because a person recently tested positive.

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