Statewide NewsCoronavirus Update in Texas: Here’s What You Need to Know

As concerns over the coronavirus mount amid its continuing spread throughout the United States, here's the latest Texas news to know.
March 9, 2020
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Austin Mayor Steve Adler Announces the Cancellation of South by Southwest 

On Friday, Austin Mayor Steve Adler announced the cancelation of Austin’s most iconic event: the music, technology, and film festival South by Southwest (SXSW). The cancelation comes amid growing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

After issuing a local state of disaster for the city, Mayor Adler said of his decision, “At the end of the day, the risk associated with canceling the event was not as great as the risk associated with letting it proceed.”

Though no cases have been confirmed in Travis County or the city of Austin so far, the decision to cancel the event “was something that was necessary in order to prepare for the storm that we feel is coming,” Mayor Adler said.

Adler also cited concerns over the large number of attendees who travel from both international countries and various parts of the United States to attend South by Southwest.

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In a statement of their own, SXSW said, “we are devastated to share this news with you. ‘The show must go on’ is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. We are now working through ramifications of this unprecedented situation.”

Altogether, the cancelation of the event intended to showcase creativity and the arts will have an expected economic impact of more than $350 million for the City of Austin.

While a number of major organizations, including Apple, Netflix, and Facebook all withdrew before the official announcement was made, small businesses are those most heavily impacted by the revenue brought in from the annual festival.

Originally scheduled to take place from March 13-22, SXSW says they are exploring options for rescheduling the event and creating a virtual experience online for patrons to still attend. 

Gov. Abbott Says Roughly 90 Texans Are Among Those Who Will Be Quarantined at Lackland Air Force Base from the Grand Princess Cruise Ship in California

According to Gov. Greg Abbott, approximately 90 Texans are among those who will be quarantined at Lackland Air Force Base after being evacuated from the Grand Princess cruise ship, the most recent cruise liner to be affected by the coronavirus. 

On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence confirmed that 21 individuals, 19 crew members and 2 passengers, aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship traveling from San Francisco to Hawaii tested positive for the coronavirus.

According to Joint Base San Antonio, passengers will be medically screened at the port, and those deemed asymptomatic will then be transferred to military facilities for testing and two weeks of quarantine.

“HHS informs us that nearly 1,000 passengers who are California residents will likely complete the mandatory quarantine at Travis Air Force Base and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, and residents of other states will likely complete their mandatory quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland or Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia,” a statement from Joint Base San Antonio reads. 

“All of the repatriated citizens will remain at Lackland under quarantine until they clear the revised and heightened testing protocol to ensure they are not affected by the COVID-19 virus,” Gov. Abbott said.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg says he has received confirmation from Vice President Pence and Gov. Abbott that all evacuees will be tested upon arrival and emphasized that federal resources will continue to be provisioned to San Antonio and Bexar County.

“This is critical so that we keep our local hospitals and medical capacity at heightened readiness for any potential spread of COVID-19 locally. To date, there are zero confirmed cases of community-transmitted COVID-19 in San Antonio or Bexar County,” Mayor Nirenberg said when emphasizing the need for federal resources. 

Princess Cruises, who operates the Grand Princess cruise ship, is also the management responsible for the operation of the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The Diamond Princess was quarantined off the coast of Japan in February after an outbreak of the coronavirus occurred aboard the ship.

As a result, more than 300 Americans were repatriated to the U.S. for isolation at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio and Travis Air Force Base in California, eliciting concerns from Mayor Nirenberg among other Bexar County officials about potential threats to the public.

Last week, concerns about the spread of the virus prompted Mayor Nirenberg to issue a local state of disaster and public health emergency for the city of San Antonio and surrounding areas. 

Sen. Ted Cruz Self-Quarantines After Interaction with Individual Who Tested Positive for COVID-19

On Sunday, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) announced his decision to self-quarantine after shaking hands and briefly conversing with an individual who tested positive for the coronavirus at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February.

“The medical authorities have advised me that the odds of transmission from the other individual to me were extremely low,” Sen Cruz said, while also emphasizing that he is asymptomatic and outside of the 5-6 day incubation period of the virus.

“Out of an abundance of caution, and because of how frequently I interact with my constituents as a part of my job and to give everyone peace of mind, I have decided to remain at my home in Texas this week, until a full 14 days have passed since the CPAC interaction,” Sen. Cruz continued. 

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) also announced his decision to self-quarantine after interacting with the same individual.

For more information about state and local contingency plans for the virus, visit the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Update: Since publication, FOX26 out of Houston has reported that Rice University has canceled all classes for the week and is banning on-campus events with more than 100 people through April 30.

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Sarah McConnell

Sarah McConnell

Sarah McConnell is a reporter for The Texan. Previously, she worked as a Cyber Security Consultant after serving as a Pathways Intern at the Department of Homeland Security – Citizenship and Immigration Services. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Texas A&M as well as her Master of Public Service and Administration degree from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M. In her free time, Sarah is an avid runner, jazz enthusiast, and lover of all things culinary.

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