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Coronavirus in Texas: Southwest Airlines announces first quarterly loss in nearly 10 years

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

Dallas suing salon owner who defied stay-at-home order

[5:29 p.m.] The City of Dallas is suing Shelley Luther, the owner of a local salon that reopened last week despite local stay-at-home orders and a cease and desist letter from the city — which she tore up at a protest over the weekend.

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Non-essential businesses like salons and barbershops have been closed in Dallas for more than a month. Luther told ABC13 that she and her staff “can’t afford to stop working anymore.”

Luther is facing a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or jail time not to exceed 180 days, according to an order by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. — Stacy Fernández

Texas Democrats in Congress ask workforce commission to ease unemployment rules

[5:24 p.m.] Congressional Texas Democrats are urging Gov. Greg Abbott to waive the requirement that people request unemployment benefits every two weeks in order to receive their payments.

“The Texas Workforce Commission seems to still be sinking under the weight of this crisis and leaving too many unemployed Texans without a life boat,” said Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett, chair of the U.S. House Ways and Means Health subcommittee. “We can help keep the Commission afloat and keep more Texans on board by removing administrative burdens that are delaying much-needed support.”

Texans have reported challenges accessing the website and long waits reaching representatives by phone, delaying much-needed payments. — Aliyya Swaby

Southwest Airlines announces first quarterly loss in nearly 10 years

[2 p.m.] Southwest Airlines had its first quarterly loss in almost a decade, the Dallas-based airline announced Tuesday.

Across the country, air travel is down about 95 percent, The Associated Press reported. Southwest expects revenue to drop at least 90 percent in April and May compared with the same period last year. Its planes are expected to be 10 percent full at most, according to a written statement from the airline.

“This is an unprecedented time for our nation and the airline industry,” Gary Kelly, the airline’s chairman and CEO, said in a written statement. “The U.S. economy has been at a standstill, and the current outlook for second-quarter 2020 indicates no material improvement in air travel trends.” — Stacy Fernández

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Texas reports 26,171 cases and 690 deaths

[1 p.m.] Texas reported 874 more cases of the new coronavirus Tuesday, an increase of about 3% over the previous day, bringing the total number of known cases to 26,171. Two new counties reported their first cases Tuesday; over 80% of the state’s 254 counties have reported at least one case.

Harris County has reported the most cases, 5,827, followed by Dallas County, which has reported 3,105 cases. See maps of the latest case numbers for each county and case rates per 1,000 residents.

The state has reported 27 additional deaths, bringing the statewide total to 690 — an increase of about 4% from Monday. Harris County reported five additional deaths, bringing its total to 98 deaths, more than any other county.

As of Tuesday, 1,682 patients are known to be hospitalized in Texas. That’s an increase of 119 patients from Monday. At least 300,384 tests have been conducted. —Carla Astudillo

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Despite green light, some movie theater chains wait to reopen

[11:32 a.m.] While Gov. Greg Abbott gave movie theaters the go-ahead to reopen on Friday, some of the state’s largest theater chains said they wouldn’t open this weekend.

“Opening safely is a very complex project that involves countless new procedures and equipment, all of which require extensive training. This is something we cannot and will not do casually or quickly,” the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema tweeted.

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Businesses that do reopen Friday — retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls have all gotten approval to reopen in Texas — must operate at 25% capacity, Abbott said. AMC Theatres and Cinemark said they expect to reopen in the summer when blockbusters like Disney’s “Mulan” and Warner Brothers’ “Tenet” are scheduled for release, Deadline reported.

“To be able to open, we also need a line of sight into a regular schedule of new theatrical blockbusters that get people truly excited about returning to their favorite movie theatres,” AMC Theatres said in a statement. — Stacy Fernández

Trump praises Abbott’s moves to reopen Texas’ economy

[9 a.m.] In a tweet this morning, President Donald Trump praised Gov. Greg Abbott for taking steps to reopen the state’s economy, which will be done in phases and begin on Friday.

“Texas to open businesses in phases beginning Friday,” the president wrote. “Great job being done by @GregAbbott_TX.”

On Monday, Abbott announced that the state’s stay-at-home directive would expire at the end of the month. Texas is opening restaurants, movie theaters, retail stores, malls, museums and libraries at 25% capacity.

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Abbott said that White House coronavirus adviser Deborah Birx said Texas’ reopening plan “was great.”

The praise from Trump today comes as some of Texas’ hardline conservatives agitate for a speedier reopening process. But in some cases, a hasty reopening has drawn rebuke from the president. Last week, Trump dinged Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp for allowing bowling alleys, tattoo parlors, gyms, nail and hair salons and restaurants to reopen.

“I want them to open,” Trump said of businesses, “and I want them to open as soon as possible and I want the state to open. But I was not happy with Brian Kemp. I will tell you that.” — Alex Samuels

Disclosure: Southwest Airlines and Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas have been financial supporters 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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2020 Election

Lots of red hats — but not many COVID masks — at Bedminster ‘Cops for Trump’ event with the president

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Enhanced unemployment benefits have expired and there is still no deal on the next COVID-19 stimulus package, but the president of the United States left Washington, DC on Friday for yet another weekend at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.

"This weekend’s trip to Trump National Bedminster is the president’s 23rd since taking office, and will increase his golf-related taxpayer tab to $142 million in travel and security expenses," HuffPost White House corresponded S.V. Dáte reported Friday. "Trump has already spent 268 days on golf courses that he owns in his 1,303 days in office, of which 85 have been at Bedminster."

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2020 Election

‘Very good news’: Law prof praises Kentucky’s bipartisan compromise to allow everyone to vote by mail

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The state of Kentucky was praised on Friday after a bipartisan agreement was reached to expand voting by mail during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Any Kentucky voter wary of the risk of COVID-19 will be able to vote in the Nov. 3 general election by mailing in an absentee ballot. Voters will also have the option of casting a ballot in person during the three weeks leading up to the election, or waiting until Election Day," the Lexington Herald-Leader reported Friday.

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Trump supporter shut down on Fox News: ‘Turns out Stephen Moore is not a very good epidemiologist’

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University of Michigan economics professor Justin Wolfers mocked Trump 2016 economics advisor Stephen Moore on Fox News over the administrations bungled response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Let's not have economists play epidemiologists here, mate," Wolfers said in his Australian accent.

"We actually tried Steve's prescription, which was not shutting down, that's what the sunbelt states did," he explained.

"What have you got? You've got spreading disease everywhere and you've got the economies there forced to shut down," he explained.

"We tried what Stephen Moore wanted -- it turns out Stephen Moore is not a very good epidemiologist," Wolfers concluded.

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