AUSTIN (AP) – State health officials say almost 9,200 new cases have been reported of infection by the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The Department of State Health Services on Tuesday reported 245 new deaths from the virus that has taken a particularly grim toll along the Texas border. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said the McAllen Convention Center will be able to treat as many 250 patients to ease the strain on local hospitals. Almost 138,000 cases remain active statewide, with almost 8,700 cases requiring hospitalization. The testing positivity rate has climbed to 13.88% as of Monday, the most recent figure available.
HOUSTON (AP) – The Texas board that licenses doctors has warned physicians that it could take action against anyone who falsely advertises a cure for COVID-19. The Houston Chronicle reports that the Texas Medical Board issued its warning after a Houston-area pastor and doctor, Dr. Stella Immanuel, very publicly touted hydroxychloroquine as a cure for the disease. Multiple studies have found that the drug isn’t effective in treating COVID-19 and the Food and Drug Administration has actually cautioned against its use for that purpose. President Donald Trump has repeatedly asserted that hydroxychloroquine is a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19, only to be rebuffed by medical experts.
BELTON (AP) – U.S. Army officials say a Fort Hood soldier has drowned at the same lake near the Texas base where another soldier’s body was found last month. Fort Hood said Tuesday the body of 24-year-old Spc. Francisco Gilberto Hernandezvargas of New York was recovered after a he went underwater over the weekend while being pulled on a tube behind a boat. Bell County sheriff’s deputies are investigating. Hernandezvargas is at least the fourth Fort Hood soldier whose body has been found in recent months. There is no indication that any of the deaths are related.
MIAMI (AP) — Hanna upgraded to hurricane as system nears southern Texas coast, U.S. National Hurricane Center says. Officials in South Texas say they’re prepared to handle any challenges from Hanna. The storm is headed their way and expected to make landfall this weekend. Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb says while officials have been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic for the last five months, they can also handle any impacts from Hanna. Corpus Christi is in Nueces County, one of several coronavirus hot spots in Texas. Up to 12 inches of rain could fall in parts of South Texas due to Hanna. The storm is expected to make landfall along the Texas coast on Saturday.
HOUSTON (AP) — Houston-area officials have ordered that all public and non-religious private schools not reopen to in-person instruction until at least Sept. 8 because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo says the county’s on-campus instruction might be delayed further based on public health conditions. The announcement came as Texas continued to report a near-record number of deaths related to COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. State officials reported 196 COVID-19-related fatalities Friday, just one fewer than the record 197 deaths reported Wednesday, even as the number of new confirmed cases fell for the third straight day.
RIO GRANDE CITY (AP) – The U.S. failure to contain the pandemic has been laid bare in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. For nearly a month, the region that serves as America’s southern doorstep pleaded for a field hospital, but not until Tuesday was one ready and accepting patients. In July alone, Hidalgo County reported more than 600 deaths. That’s more than the Houston area, which is five times larger. The borderland is home to 2 million people. DHR Health is one of the largest hospitals on the border. Nearly 200 of its 500 beds belong to coronavirus patients isolated in two units. A third unit is in the works.
LAREDO (AP) – Residents in Laredo are now required to wear something that covers their nose and mouth when they’re out in public during the coronavirus pandemic. If they don’t, they face a fine of up to $1,000. Starting Thursday, everyone over age 5 in Laredo will have to wear a homemade mask, scarf or bandanna when entering a building open to the public, when pumping gas, or when using public transportation, taxis or ride shares. State health officials said Thursday afternoon there were nearly 4,700 cases of coronavirus in Texas and at least 70 related deaths.
DALLAS (AP) — A Texas appeals court has ruled that a hospital must keep a 17-month-old girl on life support pending a trial addressing the merits of the law doctors invoked to withdraw life-sustaining treatment. The ruling came in Friday after the case has been making its way through the courts for months. On Nov. 10, Cook Children’s Medical Center in Forth Worth had planned to remove Tinslee Lewis from life support after invoking the state’s “10-day rule.” The law can be employed when a family disagrees with doctors on withdrawing life-sustaining treatment. Doctors have said Tinslee is in pain and won’t ever improve. Her mother says she should make any end-of-life decision.
HOUSTON (AP) – Police say a Houston officer shot and killed an armed assault suspect on a city bus after the man beat a security guard and took her gun. Chief Art Acevedo says the episode began about 2 p.m. Tuesday when a man attacked a security guard and fled with her handgun. She reported the attack to a police sergeant who had just gone off duty and was on foot still in uniform. A witness told the sergeant that the suspect had boarded a nearby bus. The sergeant boarded the empty bus and told the man to show his hands. The suspect went for his gun instead and was shot dead.
AUSTIN (AP) – It’ll be bring-your-own popcorn and the barbecue won’t be as good, but Austin’s SXSW Film Festival is moving online after having its 27th edition canceled by the coronavirus pandemic. The Texas festival says that it’s partnering with Amazon Prime Video to stream as much of its movie line-up as possible for a 10-day period in the U.S. It will be free to viewers with or without an Amazon Prime membership. The SXSW Film Festival had been set for March 13-22 before it was canceled due to concerns about the coronavirus.
BAY MINETTE, Ala. (AP) — Authorities say a man accused of killing his wife and burying her in a shallow grave in South Carolina has been arrested in Alabama. The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday that deputies arrested Dionicia Nava Abarca at a Bay Minette gas station early Sunday. Officials said Abarca was charged with the unlawful imprisonment of his 17-year-old nephew after the teen driver told the officer he was being forced to take Abarca to Texas. Authorities said the body of Abarca’s wife was discovered Sunday afternoon in a cornfield in Gaffney, South Carolina. Abarca was charged with murder in her death. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney who can comment.
DALLAS (AP) – A Dallas real estate developer has been put on house arrest after two federal judges found that he violated conditions of his release by contacting a potential government witness in his pending bribery trial. Newly unsealed court records say Ruel Hamilton was recorded in January telling a former employee that she doesn’t have to talk with investigators. Prosecutors say he was trying keep the woman quiet. Hamilton has pleaded not guilty to two charges of bribing public officials. He was charged as part of a corruption probe that’s shaken local government in Dallas.
AUSTIN (AP/Staff) — The Texas State Teachers Association is calling for schools to be closed for the rest of the school year. That’s after health officials said more than two dozen University of Texas students have tested positive for the coronavirus after taking a spring break trip to Mexico. The Austin Public Health Department says a group of about 70 people in their 20s took a chartered plane to Cabo San Lucas about 10 days ago. So far, 28 people in the group have tested positive for COVID-19, and dozens more are being monitored. The Austin American-Statesman reports that the students were on a group trip that had not been canceled by the travel company. Texas has reported nearly 4,000 cases of COVID-19 and at least 58 deaths.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) – Authorities say a coronavirus outbreak at a San Antonio nursing home has infected at least 12 people, including one resident who died. More than 70 other residents at the Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center are awaiting test results. San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood says emergency responders became concerned after receiving “five or six calls” from the facility within a 12-hour period.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) – A Texas man has been released on bond after he was accused of threatening a mass shooting at Fort Hood in retaliation for a soldier’s murder. Bexar County jail records Monday showed Mario Eloy Peqa had been freed after he was charged with making a terrorist threat. An affidavit says Peqa posted on social media on July 30 that he would “be an active shooter” at Fort Hood to avenge Vanessa Guillin’s death. Army officials confirmed on July 6 that remains found were those of the Army specialist, who had disappeared from Fort Hood on April 22.
DALLAS (AP) – A Texas radio host and financial consultant who admitted to conning elderly listeners out of more than $20 million in a Ponzi scheme has been sentenced to 25 years in prison. The Dallas Morning News reports that the sentence was part of a plea deal that William Neil “Doc” Gallagher agreed to on Friday with Dallas County prosecutors. They say that Gallagher guaranteed annual returns of 5% to nearly 9% to listeners of his radio show who invested in securities with him. Authorities say Gallagher received up to $29.2 million from about 60 investors from December 2014 to January 2019. By then, the accounts contained less than $822,000.
AUSTIN (AP) – Police say 40 people were arrested over two nights of weekend demonstrations in Austin. Most of the arrests were made near a makeshift memorial for Garrett Foster who was fatally shot during a Black Lives Matter protest July 25. A Dallas law firm identified the shooter as Sgt. Daniel Perry, a soldier at Fort Hood. Clint Broden is representing Perry and says Perry shot Foster from inside of his car in self defense. He says his client’s earlier social media posts denouncing the protests are being taken out of context. Perry has not been charged, and Austin police have not named him as a suspect in their investigation.
HOUSTON (AP) – A construction company whose CEO has made direct appeals on Fox News to build President Donald Trump’s border wall won another major contract Monday. Fisher Industries has been awarded a $289 million contract to build 17 miles of wall in Laredo, Texas, next to the Rio Grande, which separates Texas and Mexico. The North Dakota-based company has already won $1.7 billion in contracts elsewhere along the border. U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican who received campaign donations from company CEO Tommy Fisher and his wife, says he championed Fisher Industries to Trump.
FORT WORTH (AP) — TCU’s chancellor says football coach Gary Patterson has apologized for repeating a racial slur when telling a player to stop using the slur in team meetings. Linebacker Dylan Jordan accused Patterson on Twitter of using the slur during a confrontation at practice. Center Kellton Hollins says the team’s leadership council discussed the issue with Patterson and told him use of the word wasn’t acceptable in any context. School Chancellor Victor Boschini says Patterson didn’t use the slur against any player or group on the team. Boschini says the coach was trying to ask players not to use the slur.