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Coronavirus in Texas

Coronavirus in Texas: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says bring back sports and let fans in the stadiums

Our staff is closely tracking developments on the new coronavirus in Texas. Check here for live updates.

Staff Sgt. Noel Melendez and Senior Airman Jesse Moore, Air National Guard members with the 149th Fighter Wing, serve the ...

Friday's biggest developments:

  • Texas reports 45,198 cases and 1,272 deaths
  • Dan Patrick pens op-ed saying sports should return with fans in the stadiums
  • Former Texas think tank leader tapped for White House domestic policy role, according to reports

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation drops cases against barber shops, salons

[5:26 p.m.] Barber shops and salons won’t be penalized if they stayed open in April and early May, when Gov. Greg Abbott had ordered them to close to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, The Dallas Morning News reports.

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation dropped 200 cases against barbers and cosmetologists, as well as dismissing about 180 complaints that hadn’t been investigated, Tela Mange, spokesperson for the department, told The Dallas Morning News.

Abbott amended his order last Thursday — eliminating jail time as punishment for people defying state and local orders — after GOP disdain at the jailing of Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther. After opening her salon in protest of stay-at-home orders, Luther was sentenced to seven days in jail for contempt of court.

After Abbott’s revisions, the Texas Supreme Court ordered that Luther be released from jail. But before this, two Laredo women, Ana Isabel Castro-Garcia and Brenda Stephanie Mata, were arrested in mid-April for offering cosmetic services. It wasn’t until Luther’s jailing that the issue caught widespread public attention and sparked outrage.

Salons and barber shops were allowed to open May 8. Abbott is expected to release further guidelines Monday regarding the state’s reopening. — Clare Proctor

Texas reports 45,198 cases and 1,272 deaths

[4 p.m.] Texas reported 1,347 more cases of the new coronavirus Friday, an increase of about 3% over the previous day, bringing the total number of known cases to 45,198. Three new counties reported their first cases Friday; over 85% of the state’s 254 counties have reported at least one case.

Harris County has reported the most cases, 8,817, followed by Dallas County, which has reported 6,837 cases. See maps of the latest case numbers for each county and case rates per 1,000 residents.

The state has reported 56 additional deaths — the second-highest increase since the state started reporting coronavirus death counts. Harris County reported five additional deaths, bringing its total to 193 deaths, more than any other county.

As of Friday, 1,716 patients are known to be hospitalized in Texas. That’s an increase of 68 patients from Thursday. At least 645,992 tests have been conducted. — Mandi Cai

Dan Patrick pens op-ed saying sports should return with fans in the stadiums

[11:15 a.m.] Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick thinks sports fans should be able to attend games as long as some guidelines are in place, he wrote in a Friday opinion piece for The Dallas Morning News.

“Let’s end all this talk about playing in empty stadiums,” Patrick wrote. “Let the games begin with fans in the seats.”

The lieutenant governor's ideas come a day after Gov. Greg Abbott hinted he may have news of sports facility reopenings in his upcoming Monday press conference, he said in a Thursday KBTX-TV interview. Texas A&M University officials have said it plans to commence fall football.

Patrick laid out a series of proposals outdoor and indoor stadiums could implement to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stadiums should limit fan capacity, implement a social distance seating chart and check everyone’s temperature when they go through security. If a person’s temperature is high, they can’t attend the game and should get a refund.

The lieutenant governor also proposed ways to skim time off the actual game by limiting timeouts in the last minute of basketball games and limiting how long a batter in baseball can step out of the box to readjust his gloves.

“I don’t believe Anthony Fauci should anoint himself as the commissioner of sports and tell the owners, players and fans what to do,” Patrick wrote. — Stacy Fernández

Former Texas policy group leader reportedly tapped to oversee Trump administration's domestic agenda

[5 a.m.] President Donald Trump is slated to name Brooke Rollins, the former CEO of the Texas Public Policy Foundation and now longtime White House official, as acting domestic policy adviser, The New York Times reported Thursday night.

In that role, Rollins reportedly will help oversee Trump’s domestic agenda as the president encourages several states to relax existing restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. She will succeed Joe Grogan, who said two weeks ago he planned to step down in May.

Rollins left TPPF in 2018 after leading the conservative think tank for 15 years. She took a job in the White House Office of American Innovation — which is led by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

According to the Times, White House staff secretary Derek Lyons was also floated as a potential successor to Grogan. Instead, Lyons will remain in his post and serve as counselor to the president.

TPPF did not immediately respond to a request for comment. — Alex Samuels

Texas health officials expected to announce latest number of coronavirus infections

[5 a.m.] Texas health officials are expected to announce the latest coronavirus test counts Friday, a day after the state reported the largest increase in positive tests and deaths. At least 43,851 people have tested positive for the new coronavirus in Texas, and at least 1,216 have died. See maps of the latest case numbers for each county and case rates per 1,000 residents. — Chris Essig

Disclosure: The Texas Public Policy Foundation has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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