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Houston coronavirus updates: What you need to know about April 11

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Houston coronavirus updates: What you need to know about April 11

By Alison Medley

Updated

  • The race is on to develop a vaccine to combat COVID-19. The Houston Methodist team is led by Dr. John Cooke who is now collaborating with Woodlands-based VGXI to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

    The race is on to develop a vaccine to combat COVID-19. The Houston Methodist team is led by Dr. John Cooke who is now collaborating with Woodlands-based VGXI to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

    Photo: Houston Methodist

The race is on to develop a vaccine to combat COVID-19. The Houston Methodist team is led by Dr. John Cooke who is now collaborating with Woodlands-based VGXI to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

The race is on to develop a vaccine to combat COVID-19. The Houston Methodist team is led by Dr. John Cooke who is now collaborating with Woodlands-based VGXI to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

Photo: Houston Methodist

Chron.com is compiling the latest headlines on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the Houston area. See live updates from HoustonChronicle.com here.

5:35 p.m.  

There has been a significant spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in Houston and Harris County. According to local health officials,  there are now 3,561 cases of COVID-19, an increase of 300 cases since yesterday.

Galveston County added 14 new positive cases of COVID-19, which has brought the total number of cases up to 355, according to Galveston County Health District.

4:10 p.m. 

Heading the RNA therapeutics research team at Houston Methodist, Dr. John Cooke is now collaborating with Woodlands-based VGXI to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. VGXI is a subsidiary of GeneOne Life Science, a South Korean-based DNA vaccine company.

Cooke says the Methodist team plans the development phase of the new COVID-19 RNA vaccine next week.

“Our first step is to complete the synthesis of the RNA vaccine and test its integrity,” Cooke said. “We are starting on it next week. Basically, we’re giving the biological software to human cells to fight COVID-19.  We’ll start animal testing in a few weeks. Then we will see if that vaccine will generate an immune response. There will be human trials after that.” Read more about this new COVID-19 RNA vaccine in this report.

3:50 p.m.

A fifth Montgomery County resident has died of coronavrius, according to the county’s office of homeland security and emergency management.

The COVID19 victim, a man in his 80s, was a resident at The Conservatory at Alden Bridge, making him the fourth death related to the senior living apartment complex.

Eighty percent of the county’s COVID-19 deaths now stem from The Conservatory at Alden Bridge, which is a complex focused on maintaining independence for its elderly residents. Read the full report about this story from Houston Chronicle’s Samantha Ketterer.

3:00 p.m.

Houston billionaire Tilman Fertitta told Fox News’ guest host Brian Kilmeade Saturday night that he laid off 45,000 workers as a ‘favor’ to help them access unemployment benefits earlier.

“You’re doing people a favor if you get them furloughed first, because you have them to unemployment line after the severance that you give them. It’s a trick that I’ve learned many years ago.

Fertitta’s estimated net worth according to Forbes stands at $4.8 million, making him the 44th wealthiest person in the world. Read more about his tough decision in this report.

2:08 p.m.

Houston and Harris County COVID-19 testing capacity has doubled, officials announced Saturday afternoon. Harris County sites that normally tested 250 a day will now be equipped to test 500.

1:40 p.m.

Crews have constructed an outdoor medical center for COVID-19 patients at NRG Park. The facility has the capacity to treat up to 250 patients.  It will be used when the hospitals experience a surge.  According to County Judge, Lina Hidalgo, the cost of the makeshift medical center is approximately $11 million. Houston Chronicle’s Dylan McGuiness provides an update about the medical shelter at NRG.

12:29 p.m.

Americans should expect their stimulus check to arrive next week.  If you’ve received your 2018/2019 tax returns via direct deposit, expect to get the stimulus money by middle of next week. Nearly 115 million Americans will receive their stimulus money via direct deposit into their bank account by April 14.

11:20 a.m.

The city of Houston now has 2,063 confirmed COVID-19 cases.  Harris County released a list of confirmed coronavirus cases by municipality on Friday. As Nancy Sarnoff reports, the county’s most recent data shows 3,261 confirmed cases of COVID-19 cases and 40 deaths.

9:26 a.m.

There are now 10 COVID-19 confirmed cases at an upscale Houston senior living home called the Buckingham, according to a notice on their website. Eight residents and two employees have tested positive for COVID-19.  A full quarantine of the building has been ordered.

Mayor Turner said he would soon issue an order for all senior living homes in the Houston area, “We want everyone’s temperatures to be taken of the employees. We want all employees to be wearing masks, so that there are certain protocols in place.”

Of the 47 residents tested there, nine have tested positive, 37 have tested negative, and five tests are still pending.

The Buckingham is a senior living facility located in west Houston near the Piney Point Village.

8:30 a.m.

Two NASA astronauts who have spent more than a year and half on the International Space Station are expected to return to a dramatically changed world next week.

Andrew Morgan said the crew has tried to keep informed about the pandemic news. But it’s hard to comprehend what’s really going on and what to expect, he noted, when his nine-month mission ends next Friday.

“It is quite surreal for us to see this whole situation unfolding on the planet below,” said Jessica Meir, who took part in the first all-female spacewalk last fall. “We can tell you that the Earth still looks just as stunning as always from up here, so it’s difficult to believe all the changes that have taken place since both of us have been up here.”

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