What you need to know Friday:
More businesses — including bars, bowling alleys and aquariums — can now reopen
As part of Gov. Greg Abbott's attempt to begin reviving the economy, myriad Texas businesses can reopen Friday. That includes bars, bowling alleys and aquariums at limited capacity. Restaurants can also operate at 50% capacity; they've been permitted to operate at 25% capacity since May 1. At bars, dancing and other close-contact interactions are discouraged, and customers should be seated at tables. For bowling alleys, bingo halls and roller skating rinks, customers must be kept 6 feet apart, including between bowling lanes and people playing bingo. Here is a full guide to the businesses that can reopen and the guidelines they must follow. — Clare Proctor
State's unemployment rate for April expected to be released Friday
Texas' unemployment rate is expected to be released Friday and will provide the government's clearest and most comprehensive look so far at the economic devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. The rate will reflect the number of people who were out of work in April, when officials shuttered the state's economy to stop the spread of the virus. March's unemployment rate was 4.7%, and analysts said last month that April's figure could exceed 10%. If that happens, it will be a record high for the state.
Previously, the state’s worst-ever monthly unemployment rate was 9.2% in November 1986, as Texas reeled from the last big oil bust. Now, with more than 2 million Texans who have filed for unemployment benefits during the outbreak, a contracting oil industry is only part of the state’s economic problems. — Mitchell Ferman
Top Tribune stories you might have missed:
- Data on tests changed: Texas health officials made a key change Thursday to how they report data about the coronavirus, distinguishing antibody tests from standard viral tests and prompting slight increases in the state’s oft-cited daily statistic known as the positivity rate. The Texas Department State of Health Services disclosed for the first time Thursday that as of a day earlier, it had counted 49,313 antibody tests as as part of its "total tests" tally. That represents 6.4% of the 770,241 total tests that the state had reported through Wednesday.
- Texans losing health insurance: More than 1 million Texans have likely suffered the double whammy of losing their jobs and their employer-based health insurance. Some have landed in the state’s patchy health care safety net, where advocates say they could be cut off from physical and mental health services while facing the economic strain of a public health crisis.
- SNAP applications increase: More than 417,000 Texans applied for the federal government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program in April, a sharp increase over March and nearly quadruple the number of people who applied in April 2019.
Lawsuit against Dallas County jail urges release of medically vulnerable inmates
Dallas faith leaders filed a lawsuit Thursday calling for the release of medically vulnerable inmates, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Filed on behalf of three inmates with underlying health risks who are detained in the county jail, the suit argues inmates can’t practice social distancing and lack access to proper sanitization like soap. It also calls into question the lack of transparency around testing.
About 1,800 inmates have underlying health issues, the newspaper reported. But as of May 1, the jail was averaging only 11 tests a day, and as of Wednesday, the jail reported that 226 inmates and 62 guards had tested positive for the virus.
Coronavirus hots pots have emerged across the state in jails and prisons, calling into question the availability of testing.
The lawsuit, filed against Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown, mirrors a separate federal case filed April 9. Civil rights activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. joined Dallas faith leaders in support of the release of inmates. — Clare Proctor
Texas reports 52,268 cases and 1,440 deaths
Texas officials are expected to release the latest number of people testing positive for the new coronavirus Friday. As of Thursday, at least 52,268 Texans had tested positive, and at least 1,440 had died.
For the first time Thursday, the state reported separately the number of antibody tests that it was previously counting with viral tests. As of a day earlier, it had counted 49,313 antibody tests as as part of its “total tests” tally. That represents 6.4% of the 770,241 total tests that the state reported Wednesday. — Darla Cameron