Supreme Court declines to order virus safety steps for vulnerable Texas inmates

AUSTIN, Texas — The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to order Texas officials to beef up safety measures at a Southeast Texas prison where 20 inmates have died from COVID-19.Two at-risk inmates at the Wallace Pack Unit, which houses geriatric and medically vulnerable prisoners, asked the high court to reinstate a trial judge’s September order requiring safety steps that included disinfecting common areas, providing inmates with cleaning supplies, conducting weekly testing and enforcing social distancing and a face mask mandate.The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay blocking the ...

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Biden-Harris not quite all-in in Texas

AUSTIN, Texas — On MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” on Wednesday night, Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris revealed that she was about to launch an in-person campaign swing across some crucial electoral terrain.“I’m going to be in North Carolina and Ohio and Pennsylvania and, I think, Texas,” Harris said.Harris thought correctly. Texas was on her itinerary for this weekend, much to the delight of Texas Democrats, who would love for their state, in recent decades the cornerstone of the Republican electoral majority, to be viewed and treated by its national ticket as the biggest ba...

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Ron Paul hospitalized after medical incident

AUSTIN, Texas — Ron Paul, the former Republican congressman from southeast Texas and presidential candidate, was hospitalized Friday after suffering an apparent medical incident while speaking during a video livestream.Following reports that the 85-year-old was admitted to a Texas hospital for “precautionary reasons,” Paul tweeted a photo from his hospital bed.“Message from Ron Paul: ‘I am doing fine. Thank you for your concern,’” the tweet read.Video posted on Twitter showed Paul interviewing a guest on video when his speech began to slur and his words became garbled.Paul unsuccessfully ran f...

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Judge blocks Texas law that would end straight-ticket voting

AUSTIN, Texas — A federal judge on Friday ordered Texas officials to allow straight-ticket voting for the Nov. 3 election, ruling that a state law ending the practice would endanger voters by causing longer lines at polling places during the pandemic.The ruling, coming only 18 days before early voting was set to begin, will cause problems for election officials who must reprogram voting machine software and reconfigure ballots, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo acknowledged in her ruling.“The substantial injury to (voters) is outweighed by the inconvenience,” the Laredo judge wrote.G...

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No foul play linked to latest Fort Hood soldier death, Army says

AUSTIN, Texas — Fort Hood officials earlier this week said foul play is not suspected in the case of U.S. Army Pvt. Corlton Chee, who died Sept. 2 after collapsing during physical fitness training.In a statement released Tuesday, officials at Fort Hood said the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences is still working with the Army to determine the 25-year-old soldier’s cause of death.“It is too early in the process to draw any conclusions about why he collapsed or passed away,” the statement from the Army said.The soldier on the morning of Aug. 28 was instructed to run a total of 2.2 miles...

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Texas Democrats make last push to expand mail-in voting in pandemic

AUSTIN, Texas — In their legal fight to expand mail-in voting during the pandemic, Texas Democrats have had little luck in the courts, but they’re preparing for one last throw of the dice before the November election.On Monday, the party’s lawyer will appear before a federal appeals court, arguing that a state law denying mail-in ballots to most Texans who are younger than 65 amounts to impermissible age discrimination.It’s the last major argument remaining after state and federal appeals courts rejected the Texas Democratic Party’s earlier efforts to expand mail-in balloting as a safer altern...

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Texas coronavirus deaths surpass 11,000

AUSTIN, Texas — More than 11,000 people have died of coronavirus-related causes in Texas, according to state data released Friday. That comes just four days after state health officials reported 10,000 fatalities statewide.The 258 new fatalities reported Friday, which brought the statewide death toll to 11,051, occurred up to 10 days prior to when they were reported because state officials are now using death certificates to tally COVID-19 fatalities.Only New York, New Jersey and California rank above Texas in COVID-19 deaths.The Texas Department of State Health Services also reported 4,651 ne...

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Conservatives, GOP candidates sue to block extension of early voting in Texas

AUSTIN, Texas — Conservative leaders and two Republican candidates have filed suit to block Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order that added six days of early voting for the November election as a pandemic-inspired safety measure. The extension, they argued, must be struck down as a violation of the Texas Constitution and state law. “This draconian order is contrary to the Texas spirit and invades the liberties the people of Texas protected in the Constitution,” the lawsuit argued. “If the courts allow this invasion of liberty, today’s circumstances will set a precedent for the future, forever weakenin...

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Chaos? Irrelevant? Pandemic shifts Affordable Care Act legal fight

AUSTIN, Texas — A lot has happened since March 2, when the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Texas’ bid to strike down the Affordable Care Act.Two days later, Texas discovered its first case of COVID-19, and Gov. Greg Abbott declared a statewide emergency over the pandemic nine days after that.As the coronavirus spread over the next five months — cutting short more than 161,000 lives nationwide — the toll has changed the tenor of the case before the country’s highest court.Supporters of the wide-ranging law have flooded the court with pleas to preserve the Affordable Care Act, arguing that it ...

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How Texas tracks the virus' toll

AUSTIN, Texas — The death toll from the coronavirus in Texas came into sharper focus this past week, as health officials added several hundred more fatalities to a tally that now exceeds 6,000.The jump came as the Texas Department of State Health Services shifted to death certificates listing COVID-19 as the cause of death, as a data source, instead of local health reports. State officials said the move provides a more accurate picture of the human toll of the disease.But the lag time in receiving death certificates — up to 10 days after a person dies — offers a delayed account of the number o...

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Texas sets coronavirus records: 8,258 new cases, numbers in hospital reach all-time highs

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas saw 8,258 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus Saturday and an additional 238 people who are hospitalized with the virus — the highest numbers in both categories to date.Texas coronavirus cases have spiked throughout June and into July, and the number of people hospitalized in Texas has risen nearly every day — compared with the previous day — since mid-June.Saturday's total of cases was 191,790 after Texas added 8,258 new cases, a record high, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.The number of statewide hospitalizations also continued to rise Satu...

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A&E reality show says video of in-custody death of Austin's Javier Ambler has been destroyed

AUSTIN, Texas — Video filmed by a “Live PD” crew of an in-custody death of a black man last year has been destroyed and can no longer be turned over to Austin investigators, representatives of the reality TV show said Tuesday.The disclosure by A&E Networks came a day after the American-Statesman and KVUE-TV first reported details of the March 2019 death of Javier Ambler while being arrested by Williamson County sheriff’s deputies in connection with a traffic violation.The Statesman and KVUE obtained video of Ambler’s final moments recorded by an Austin police officer’s bodycam. Dashcam video f...

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