47ºF

Here are 9 things to know about the coronavirus outbreak this Saturday

FILE - In this March 13, 2020 file photo, School Resource Officer Donald Lee locks the gates of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School for Science and Technology, after all the students left, in New Orleans. Where political divides marred early recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Louisiana is showing rare political unity in the fight against the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Here is what you should know about the coronavirus outbreak:

Texas doctors experimenting with plasma from people who’ve recovered from COVID-19

Doctors in Texas and around the country are experimenting with a new treatment based on an old technique — injecting antibody-rich plasma from people who have recovered from the new coronavirus into people who have severe cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Antibodies are proteins in blood that fight specific bacteria and viruses.

In the absence of a novel coronavirus vaccine, doctors and scientists are looking to so-called convalescent plasma because they consider it low risk and because it has been effective during past epidemics. But they aren’t sure yet if it will be effective on COVID-19.

Two small studies found that COVID-19 patients in China improved after receiving convalescent plasma transfusions. Researchers plan to find out if that success can be replicated with COVID-19 patients in the U.S.

Harris County invests $11 million for emergency healthcare facility at NRG park

Harris County and Houston officials said the region is ready for the potential worst-case scenario if the healthcare system becomes overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic.

So far, officials said the healthcare system has remained within capacity. Officials created the pop-up medical shelter at NRG Park to serve as a back-up if the hospitals’ surge capacity is exceeded.

“Let us hope that we don’t need that,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said at the press conference Saturday afternoon.

Galveston County confirms 14 new coronavirus cases

Galveston County Health District announced 14 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the county’s case total to 355.

The county also reported one new recovery, a female between 51 and 60 years old.

To date, more than 4,000 Galveston County residents have been tested for coronavirus.

Majority of qualified Americans will receive stimulus check by Wednesday

A senior Treasury official says many Americans who are eligible to receive a stimulus check can expect a direct deposit to hit their bank account by April 15, Fox News first reported.

According to the report, the official said the U.S. Department of the Treasury is transmitting payments to the Federal Reserve for distribution to financial institutions to be deposited into Americans’ bank accounts.

By the middle of the week, tens of millions of Americans who qualified for aid will have received their payment from the federal government.

Ahead of Easter Sunday, Texas churches prepare with different approaches

[5 a.m.] Christian Texans, faith leaders and local officials are preparing in myriad ways for an Easter holiday that falls in the middle of a pandemic the scale of which almost no one has encountered.

Texas churches have the governor’s blessing to hold services for the holiday thanks to Gov. Greg Abbott's announcement last week that churches are an essential service and can remain open during the pandemic — as long as they follow health guidance to keep patrons 6 feet apart.

Some churches praise Abbott’s order and are willing to change their structure according to health guidelines as long as members can still gather Sunday. Others, still worried about the growing spread of the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, are opting to continue with virtual services despite the major holiday.

NYC school buildings closed until the end of the school year, mayor says

New York City public school buildings will remain closed through the end of the school year because of coronavirus concerns, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Saturday at a press conference.

Students will continue to receive remote instruction, according to the city Department of Education.

Students who have requested digital devices, but have yet to receive them, will get them by the end of the month, city officials said.

De Blasio encouraged people to consider September as the new era. Children are under trauma at this time, he said, and it’s best to not bring them back to school before then.

Minorities hit hard by the coronavirus

Tributes have flooded in for health workers across the United Kingdom who have reportedly died from coronavirus-related complications, many of them from black and Asian communities.

The country's health minister, Matt Hancock, told the BBC today he was "struck at the high proportion of people from minority ethnic backgrounds and people who've come to this country to work in the [national health service] who've died of coronavirus."

British health authorities have not released race-related statistics on confirmed cases or fatalities, but questions are mounting about the epidemic's disproportionate effect on minority groups, Tara John and Aleesha Khaliq report.

Early data from the US shows that African Americans have died of coronavirus at alarming rates. They represent a high percentage of victims in Louisiana, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey.

Global food supply at risk

The United Nations warns that global restrictions to fight the coronavirus are straining food supply chains, Jessie Yeung writes.

Border closures, movement restrictions, and disruptions in the shipping and aviation industries have made it harder to produce food and transport goods internationally, potentially jeopardizing countries with few alternative food sources.

Independent movie theaters launch at-home films

Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse is participating in the Virtual Cinema initiative, which allows customers to purchase movies to be watched at home. The program is led by distributors such as Kino Lorber, Film Movement, and Magnolia Pictures.

For the standard price of a ticket, users can stream curated or independent films for a set number of days. But unlike traditional streaming services, the funds go directly to the local theatre.

You can check out the lineup of movies here.