Williamson County judge accused of violating his own stay-at-home order
[9:37 p.m.] Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell is being accused of violating his own stay-at-home order — and borrowing firefighting equipment — to attend his grandson’s birthday party this week, according to KXAN.
Gravell is among several local Texas officials who have ordered residents to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic with few exceptions, like if they are participating in essential activities.
Chief Mark McAdams, who runs a fire and EMS station in the county north of Austin, told the TV station he loaned a firefighting suit to the county judge this week.
“I, at this point, regret making that decision because I know a lot of people will now say: why can’t I do that? And, of course, I can’t do that for anybody,” McAdams told KXAN. “But, given the conditions we’re going through and his separation from the family and the requirements of his job, I did let him borrow the piece of equipment.”
After pictures of the judge in the firefighting suit were reportedly posted to Twitter, Gravell called a Williamson County defense attorney about having the photos taken down, the TV station reported.
“And, I immediately made it clear that I have no control over those photographs, I did not take the photographs and that I would do nothing to help them,” attorney Robert McCabe told the station.
KXAN reported that Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick “filed a criminal referral” about the matter with the county attorney.
Two more San Antonio nursing home residents die from new coronavirus
[7:33 p.m.] Two more patients at the Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center died after testing positive for the new coronavirus, bringing the number of virus-related deaths connected to the facility to 12, a spokesperson for the city of San Antonio said Friday. One patient was a white male, and the other was a Hispanic female; both were in their 80s and had underlying medical conditions, the official said.
More than 70 of the facility's 84 residents had tested positive for the virus as of Friday, as had 27 staff members. It is the largest known cluster of cases in San Antonio, accounting for half of the confirmed COVID-19 related deaths in Bexar County, according to media reports and the official.
local and state officials are investigating the facility.
More than 160 of the state’s 1,222 nursing homes have at least one case of the new coronavirus, and 38 nursing home residents or staff members have died, according to state data disclosed Thursday. — Shannon Najmabadi
Number of prisoners with coronavirus nearly doubles in a day
[7:18 p.m.] The number of Texas prisoners who have tested positive for the new coronavirus almost doubled in one day — hitting 132 cases Friday, up from 70 on Thursday.
Three prisons — the Beto, Murray and Telford units — all have 20 or more infected prisoners, with the highest of 43 at Beto, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Eighteen of the state’s more than 100 prison facilities are on lockdown due to a prisoner or employee testing positive for the virus in the last two weeks, keeping inmates mostly to their cells or dorms and restricting all activity.
One inmate and one prison officer died this week after testing positive for the virus. Sixty-nine TDCJ employees have also tested positive as of Friday. — Jolie McCullough
State ships unproven hydroxychloroquine drug to 70 hospitals for COVID-19 patients
[5:14 p.m.] The Texas Department of State Health Services has shipped out over 63,000 tablets of hydroxychloroquine, only a fraction of the state’s supply, to more than 70 hospitals across Texas, The Dallas Morning News reported.
The state’s supply is also being used to treat 27 Texas City nursing home residents who have tested positive for COVID-19.
The medication is only being prescribed to certain patients with “appropriate informed consent,” according to DSHS spokesperson Janet St. James.
President Donald Trump has touted the anti-malaria drug as a cure for the new coronavirus, but medical experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, say it shows “suggestive” results at best. — Naomi Andu
Texas reports 11,671 cases and 226 deaths
[12:55 p.m.] Texas reported 1,441 more cases of the new coronavirus Friday, an increase of about 14% over the previous day, bringing the total number of known cases to 11,671. Six new counties reported their first cases Friday; more than half of the state's 254 counties have reported at least one case.
Harris County has reported the most cases, 3,047, followed by Dallas County, which has reported 1,432 cases.
The state has reported 27 additional deaths, bringing the statewide total to 226 — an increase of about 14% from Thursday. Harris County reported three additional deaths, bringing its total to 34 deaths, more than any other county.
As of Friday, 1,532 patients are known to be hospitalized in Texas. That's an increase of 93 patients from Thursday. At least 115,918 tests have been conducted. — Anna Novak
More than 13% of Texas nursing homes have at least one patient with coronavirus
[5 a.m.] More than 160 of the state's 1,222 nursing homes, or about 13%, have at least one case of the new coronavirus, state officials said late Thursday. And 38 nursing home residents and staff members have died of COVID-19 statewide.
The disclosure came after The Texas Tribune reported that Texas was not disclosing comprehensive data on nursing home residents and staffers who have tested positive for the virus. Roughly 93,000 Texans live in licensed nursing homes throughout the state. — Edgar Walters
San Antonio sees a $100 million drop in revenues to the city
[5 a.m.] San Antonio's city coffers have lost $100.9 million from a halt in commercial and tourist activities from the new coronavirus, the San Antonio Express-News reports. The decrease in revenues comes from drops in retail sales, hotel room bookings, flights to the local airport, and events in the Alamodome and the convention center.
The city has paused some street improvement projects and economic development incentives and furloughed 270 municipal employees in areas funded by hotel occupancy taxes, and it is expecting unemployment there might reach up to 14%, the paper reported. — Juan Pablo Garnham
Austin City Council approves $15 million in economic relief funds
[5 a.m.] The Austin City Council unanimously voted to use up to $15 million of the city’s reserves to assist people hit by the economic collapse caused by the new coronavirus, the Austin American-Statesman reports. The funds will be used to provide monetary assistance and pay for food services. It will be managed by Austin Public Health through local nonprofits. Health officials will begin reaching out to potential beneficiaries Friday.
The City Council also approved contracts with three hotels to house people that test positive for the coronavirus but can’t find a place to self-isolate or quarantine without putting their families or the public at risk, the paper reported. — Juan Pablo Garnham