Saturday's biggest developments:
- Texas doctors experiment with plasma transfusions
- Churches taking different approaches to Easter services
- More than 11,000 Texans have tested positive; new numbers expected Saturday
Texas doctors experimenting with plasma from people who've recovered from COVID-19
[5 a.m.] 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. — Clare Proctor
Ahead of Easter Sunday, churches prepare for holiday services 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. — Stacy Fernández and Alex Samuels
Harris County tops Texas for coronavirus cases as new numbers expected Saturday
[5 a.m.] In Texas, Harris County has reported the most people with the new coronavirus cases, 3,047, followed by Dallas County, which has reported 1,432 cases. Those are according to numbers released Friday. Health officials are expected to update the count of Texans testing positive for the virus Saturday.
Already, more than 11,000 Texans have tested positive out of at least 115,918 tests conducted. More than 225 people in the state have died from COVID-19. — Anna Novak