(Ed. note: There have been so many developments since yesterday morning that this post contains only a few of the most significant updates. Additional Wrangling to come for Tuesday, 3/24.)
Greg Abbott has postponed the May 26 primary runoff elections to July 14.
Holding the election in May “would cause the congregation of large gatherings of people in confined spaces and force numerous election workers to come into close proximity to others, thereby threatening the health and safety of many Texans and literally exposing them to risk of death due to COVID-19,” Abbott said ... It “would therefore prevent, hinder or delay necessary action in containing the COVID-19 disaster.”
The Republican Party of Texas supported a delay “to allow for time to ensure that Texas voters and their votes are protected and safeguarded.” In a letter released publicly, the Texas Democratic Party said it wanted a process that “reduces the need for in-person voting and enhances Texans’ ability to vote by mail.”
The Democratic Party has since filed a lawsuit in Travis County (.pdf) to expand ballot-by-mail voting, “instead of bringing our democratic process to a halt.” The lawsuit seeks to “allow any person who does not want to risk their health or that of their family’s [sic] during this coronavirus pandemic to vote by mail.” Specifically, the suit claims that Section 82.002, Election Code, already allows voters to cast ballots by mail “under the circumstances of this pandemic” and seeks a declaratory order.
Kuff looked at expanded vote by mail possibilities, the subject of the TDP's lawsuit.
With primary runoffs two months from now, Dems want universal mail-in voting; Republicans want delayed elections; and local elections officials just want some guidance. https://t.co/Tgmmc71PAJ— Texas Observer (@TexasObserver) March 23, 2020
Abbott has deferred to local governments the decision as to whether to take further action locking down their communities.
Abbott will not be ordering a statewide shelter-in-place at this time, pointing to the lack of positive novel coronavirus cases in more than 200 counties.
These urban areas have issued stay-at-home orders:— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) March 24, 2020
+ San Antonio
These urban areas will issue stay-at-home orders Tuesday:
+ Fort Worth
This urban area was reportedly drafting a stay-at-home order:
+ Houston https://t.co/J7c4lxj1BO
The governor had previously fallen in line behind the leaders of the state's major urban metropolitan areas in closing schools, assisted living facilities, restaurants and bars, and other large gathering places in order to stop the spread of the contagion.
New — @GovAbbott announces executive order:— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) March 19, 2020
- no gatherings of >10
- no eating/drinking at bars/restaurants, takeout/drive-thru OK; gyms closed
- no visiting nursing homes except for critical care
- all schools temporarily closed
EO is effective midnight tomorrow-midnight April 3
Abbott has come under withering criticism for rolling too slowly on protecting the state's citizens against the rapidly-expanding pathogen.
But at least the governor hasn't been as big an embarrassment as John Cornyn ...
.@JohnCornyn blaming #Coronavirus on Chinese 'culture' is only the 3rd Most Racist Thing a Republican said today https://t.co/XxAQnEoIFK #TXSen #TX2020— A Companion Unobtrusive (@PDiddie) March 18, 2020
... or Louie Gohmert ...
Update: ... or Dan Patrick.
To think Texans survived Jade Helm and transgender bathrooms only to be sacrificed by Dan Patrick himself. What a twist. https://t.co/D8YVqE6wf0— Evan (@evan7257) March 24, 2020
But Texas Democrats have lowlights of their own: Rep. Marc Veazey tried to earmark additional spending for F-35s as part of one of the governmental stimulus spending bills.
'Do F-35s Fight Pandemics?' Amid #Covid-19 outbreak, Congress pushing for even more useless Pentagon spending - https://t.co/Xrys2D53na #NotJustGOP— A Companion Unobtrusive (@PDiddie) March 20, 2020
Health care workers on why it's important to keep the rate of COVID-19 infection as low as possible: Texas hospitals don't have enough beds if too many people get sick at once https://t.co/WpUonswVs7— Edgar Walters (@ewaltersTX) March 17, 2020
There is likely an overload of helpful -- and unhelpful -- information in your inbox, social media timelines, and on your teevee, radio, and podcasts about the pandemic.
Texas bloggers also had the topic foremost on their minds. Here's a sampling:
If you need assistance with meals, medical services, employment resources and more during the #COVID19 pandemic, here’s where you can turn. https://t.co/25mIO8nLWt— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) March 23, 2020
Alex Birnal at the Rivard Report highlighted how coronavirus demonstrates the need for paid sick leave. Lisa Gray at the HouChron interviewed vaccine expert Dr. Peter Hotez about the state of COVID-19. Space City Weather shares their thoughts also, including social distancing and flattening the curve. And The Bloggess tells her social distancing story.
Texas anti-vaxxers fear mandatory #COVID19 vaccines more than the #coronavrus itself https://t.co/WrJHkiRz3g— A Companion Unobtrusive (@PDiddie) March 18, 2020
A very strange story from the legal world makes news.
These are just some of the bizarre details of the years-long feud between former Proud Boys attorney Jason Van Dyke, who was also a member of the group and briefly led it, and Thomas Retzlaff, the man who Van Dyke alleges is trying to destroy him.
This story has everything: Proud Boys, revenge porn, death threats, the U.S. Supreme Court, a $100 million lawsuit, the president. And that's just the beginning of Days of Our Right Wing Extremists. https://t.co/27R7iujs1p— Claire Goforth (@clairenjax) March 19, 2020
Now new evidence in a Texas police file obtained by the Daily Dot reflects that Van Dyke threatened Retzlaff’s life a little more than a year ago.
No excerpt can really do justice (pun intended) to this case, so click over and read. The Southeast Texas Record offers a drier account.
Restaurants and their employees are suffering the worst of the economic body shots. But no small entrepreneur adapts quicker to adverse business conditions, or takes better care of their own.
Houston restaurants are transforming into pop-up markets for groceries https://t.co/uxBcr0VZhM pic.twitter.com/MpLAMF3KQb— Eater Houston (@EaterHouston) March 20, 2020
Houston restaurant groups are setting up community kitchens to help feed restaurant and hospitality employees who are out of work https://t.co/U2o2xnviBx— Eater Houston (@EaterHouston) March 20, 2020
Here's something for us to watch while we shelter in place.
Big virtual hugs to everyone out there who has been enjoying our YouTube channel and interactive Facebook activities. Learn a little about the ongoing effort to bring the museum into your home in our latest blog post. https://t.co/zicgCWzb1k pic.twitter.com/Eqhcuu7Y6X— HMNS (@hmns) March 20, 2020
Kam Franklin, in Texas Monthly, tells how her band, The Suffers, got their start.
And music fans across genres said goodbye to Houston native Kenny Rogers.
Oh for fucks sake we weren't done with this hand yet and we were NOT folding!!! #RIPKennyRodgers— Regi (@wishful) March 21, 2020
Kenny Rogers, legendary country singer, dies at 81 - CNN https://t.co/2rkDsRQSos