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Coronavirus in Texas

San Antonio mayor imposes curfew to curb protesting

After a demonstration against police violence blocked traffic in Austin on Interstate 35, police used tear gas and rubber bullets.

Protesters march in downtown Austin on May 31, 2020.

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Here's what you need to know this weekend:

San Antonio mayor imposes curfew

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg issued a curfew from 11:30 p.m. on Saturday until 6 a.m. Sunday as a result of escalating tensions at protests. The curfew bans people from the San Antonio downtown business district during those hours.

“This brief curfew will protect the safety of people and property in the downtown business district while allowing the vast majority of people to peacefully assemble,” Nirenberg said in a statement.

“The planned demonstrations from earlier today were peaceful and the organizations did exactly what they said they would do to keep others safe. The situation was escalated by some bad actors whose only intent was to incite violence and cause destruction. The actions of a few do not represent the majority of those who came out to peacefully demonstrate,” said San Antonio Police Chief William McManus.

Violation of the curfew is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail. — Rebekah Allen

Abbott activates National Guard to respond to protesters

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Saturday evening he was activating the Texas National Guard "in response to protest violence" across the state. Thousands of protesters marched in Texas cities on Friday and Saturday, stirred to action after the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, who died while in police custody after a white officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

"Texans have every right to exercise their First Amendment rights, but violence and looting will not be tolerated," Abbott said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, Abbott also deployed more than 1,500 officers with the Texas Department of Public Safety to cities with protests. — Rebekah Allen

Austin demonstrators clash with police

Thousands of people in cities across Texas gathered to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white officer kneeled on his neck long past the point when he lost consciousness, according to court documents. Floyd was handcuffed and in police custody in Minneapolis when officer Derek Chauvin put him into the chokehold. Chauvin has been fired from the Minneapolis force and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

At the Austin Police Department’s downtown headquarters, news crews on scene confirm officers are using rubber bullets and tear gas to keep protesters off of Interstate 35 and have made a few arrests.

Live feeds showed the demonstration starting peacefully Saturday around noon, with an estimated 200 people gathered despite risk of exposure to the new coronavirus. — Alana Rocha

A group gathered at Austin Police Headquarters to protest the deaths of George Floyd and Mike Ramos by police officers.

Texas reports 62,338 cases and 1,648 deaths

Texas reported 1,332 more cases of the new coronavirus Saturday, bringing the total number of known cases to 62,338. In the last week, the state reported an average of 1,118 new cases per day.

Kinney County reported its first case Saturday; almost every county in Texas has reported at least one confirmed case of the virus. Harris County has reported the most cases, 12,009, followed by Dallas County, which has reported 9,787 cases. The Tribune publishes maps of the latest case numbers for each county and case rates per 1,000 residents.

The state has reported 22 additional deaths, bringing the statewide total to 1,648. In the last week, the state reported an average 20 additional deaths per day. Harris County reported four additional deaths Saturday, bringing its total to 228 deaths, more than any other county.

Gov. Greg Abbott is looking at two specific metrics to justify his decision to restart the Texas economy — the positive test rate and hospitalization levels. As of yesterday, at least 928,517 viral tests and 98,932 antibody tests have been administered.

The positive test rate is the percentage of new cases to viral tests conducted. The current average daily infection rate of 4.56% is calculated by dividing the 7-day average of positive cases by the 7-day average of viral tests conducted. This shows how the situation has changed over time by de-emphasizing daily swings. Public health experts want the infection rate to remain below 6%.

As of Saturday, 1,752 patients are known to be hospitalized in Texas. That’s an increase of 51 patients from Friday. — Mandi Cai

(The Texas Tribune previously reported a slightly different positive rate, but has updated its numbers to reflect the state's methodology. We also incorrectly stated our formula for calculating the average daily infection rate. This has also been corrected.)

Trib stories you may have missed:

  • Protests and mourning: Demonstrators protested in Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth on Friday night, spurred by the death of a black man named George Floyd in Minneapolis after a white police officer kneeled on his neck.
  • El Paso reopening: Gov. Greg Abbott gave El Paso an extra week to implement the latest phase of reopening. The county judge says El Paso still isn't ready to take the next step, but the governor isn't giving the city an extension.
  • Voting by mail: Texas' top Republican officials call absentee voting a recipe for fraud and are fighting efforts to expand it during the coronavirus pandemic. But the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general have all used the option.

Texas environmental agency grants oil and chemical companies scores of exemptions during coronavirus

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has exempted oil and chemical companies from environmental monitoring and inspection rules more than 100 times since the coronavirus pandemic gripped the state, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Most of the companies that were exempted said they were limiting employees and contractors to coronavirus exposure, the paper reported. And many requests were for deadline extensions on filing environmental reports. — Brandon Formby

Texas reports 61,006 cases and 1,626 deaths on Saturday

Texas officials on Saturday are expected to release the latest number of people who have tested positive for the new coronavirus. The state reported 1,230 more cases of the new coronavirus Friday, bringing the total number of known cases to 61,006. The state also reported 25 additional deaths Friday, bringing the statewide total to 1,626. The Texas Tribune publishes maps of the latest case numbers for each county and case rates per 1,000 residents. — Mandi Cai

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