Court allows Texas to ban most abortions during virus crisis
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal appeals court has sided with Texas and allowed the state to ban most abortions while under an emergency order limiting non-essential surgeries during the coronavirus pandemic. A panel of judges at the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday overturned a decision by a lower court that blocked the order. The new ruling allows the ban to stay in place. Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott last month ordered hospitals to cancel “non-essential” surgeries to preserve space and supplies for coronavirus patients and doctors. Abortion groups sued to remove the procedure from the ban.
Trump allies put unproven virus drug to work in Texas
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Houston doctor who's a Republican National Committee member says he is using an anti-malaria drug to treat some of more than 80 people infected at a Texas nursing home. Dr. Robin Armstrong said Tuesday that he's using the drug hydroxychloroquine on nearly 30 residents. President Donald Trump has heavily promoted the drug in the face of a rising death toll in the U.S. Amstrong said it's too early to tell whether the treatment is working in Texas but says he probably wouldn't have been able to access the drug if Trump hadn't been talking about it so much.
Texas prisoners lock down, make masks to fight coronavirus
DALLAS (AP) — Two Texas prisons have been locked down to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Inmates at other facilities are making masks to fight the pandemic. The prison system says about 2,100 inmates at the Rufe Jordan Unit in the Texas Panhandle and Dr. Lane Murray Unit in Central Texas have been confined to their cells on medical restrictions. There have been more than 8,200 cases of the virus in Texas and at least 154 people have died, including a state corrections officer. Also, the Texas Democratic Party sued to ensure any voter can cast a mail-in ballot during the pandemic.
Coast Guard orders cruise companies to form medical plans
GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard has determined that crew members on cruise ships in Galveston present a public health risk of spreading the new coronavirus and urged operators to form medical plans to care for sick workers. In letters sent Friday to Royal Caribbean Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line, Coast Guard Capt. K.D. Oditt said the vessels’ crews pose “an unacceptable risk” of spreading COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. The Galveston County Daily News reported Tuesday that no passengers are on the ships, but they carry thousands of workers.
BC-KS-VIRUS OUTBREAK-SPIRIT AEROSYSTEMS
Spirit AeroSystems announces temporary layoffs
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Thousands of Spirit AeroSystems employees in Wichita and other locations are being furloughed for three weeks without pay amid an outbreak of a novel coronavirus that has paralyzed air travel around the globe. The Wichita Eagle reports that most managers and hourly employees at Spirit, Wichita’s largest employer, will be placed on 21-day unpaid leave starting Wednesday. It's unclear exactly how many employees will be affected. The aircraft parts maker's company profile says it employs around 18,000. The temporary layoffs apply to Spirit employees associated with the company's Boeing commercial program. It includes Spirit employees in San Antonio and in Tulsa and McAlester locations in Oklahoma.
Parties ready for court battles over virus-era voting rights
Both major political parties are preparing for a state-by-state legal battle over how Americans can vote during the coronavirus outbreak. The dynamic played out in Wisconsin this week when judges initially held up Tuesday's election, changed its rules and then put it back on shortly before polls opened. Democrats argue that states need to make voting easier and provide more opportunities to vote by mail during the pandemic to prevent the virus from spreading. They say they're ready to sue to force that. Republicans say Democrats just want to loosen rules to help them win elections.
Work starts in Montana on disputed Canada-US oil pipeline
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Canadian company has started construction on the long-stalled Keystone XL oil sands pipeline despite calls from tribal leaders and environmentalists to delay the $8 billion project amid the coronavirus pandemic. A spokesman for TC Energy says work began over the weekend at the pipeline's border crossing in northern Montana's Phillips County. About 100 workers are involved initially. That number is expected to swell into the thousands in coming months as work proceeds. Opponents fear the workers could spread the coronavirus in rural areas that are not equipped to handle an outbreak.
Border wall workers in New Mexico spark coronavirus anxiety
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Immigrant advocates, some residents of a southern New Mexico village and others are raising concerns about an influx of workers as part of the effort to build the border wall. They’ve asked the state’s top elected officials to step in after the federal contractor working on the project began erecting portable housing in a community west of El Paso, Texas. The request reflects growing worries on both the northern and southern U.S. borders over construction workers bringing the virus to areas with sparse health care services. In New Mexico, state officials have issued public health orders to stay at home.
Wildlife group: Gulf oil spill still affecting wildlife
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A decade after the nation’s worst offshore oil spill, a wildlife advocacy organization says dolphins, turtles and other wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico are still seriously at risk. The National Wildlife Federation released a report Tuesday looking at Gulf restoration since the April 20, 2010, explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. The explosion killed 11 workers and spilled tens of millions of gallons of oil before it was capped 87 days later. Since then, $4 billion has been invested or committed to projects to help restore the Gulf and its ecosystem, while another $12 billion has been made available for amelioration projects through 2032.
4th Texas execution delayed in midst of virus outbreak