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Hustle, hard choices for Houston restaurant amid pandemic

HOUSTON (AP) — For Houston chef Chris Shepherd, it’s been “an all-out hustle” as he and his staff work to stay in business during the coronavirus outbreak. With most restaurants across the U.S. limited to takeout or delivery, Shepherd had to make tough choices to stay afloat. He closed three of his four restaurants and furloughed most of his workers. He's revamped his menu. He and his remaining staff are trying to focus on their work while helping feed people in a time of crisis. For the restaurant and beverage industry in the U.S. the viral outbreak has so far cost 3 million jobs and $25 billion in sales.


'Officers are scared out there': Coronavirus hits US police

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (AP) — Increasing numbers of police officers and civilian law enforcement staff are getting sick as the number of coronavirus cases explodes across the U.S. And the growing tally raises questions about how laws can and should be enforced during the pandemic, and about how departments will hold up as the virus spreads among the ranks of those whose work puts them at increased risk of infection. An Associated Press survey this week of over 40 law enforcement agencies found more than 690 officers and civilian employees at police departments and sheriff’s offices around the country have tested positive for COVID-19.


What's essential? In France: pastry, wine. In US: golf, guns

The coronavirus pandemic is defining for the globe what's essential and what things we really can't do without, even though we might not need them for survival. Attempting to slow the spread of the virus, authorities in many places are determining what shops and services can remain open. They're also restricting citizens from leaving their homes. Whether it's Asia, Europe, Africa or the United States, there's general agreement on what's essential: Health care workers, law enforcement, utility workers, food production and communications are generally exempt from lockdowns. But some activities reflect a national identity, or the efforts of lobbyists.


Coronavirus roils every segment of US child welfare system

NEW YORK (AP) — Child welfare agencies across the United States are scrambling to confront new challenges arising because of the coronavirus outbreak. For caseworkers, there are physical risks as well as an emotional toll. Child welfare workers in several states, including Michigan, Massachusetts, New York and Washington, have tested positive for the virus. Many agencies have cut back on in-person inspections at homes of children considered at risk of abuse and neglect. Instead, visits are now often done through videoconferencing. Parents of children already in foster care are losing their chances for weekly visits. And slowdowns at family courts are burdening some of those parents with agonizing delays in reunifying with their children.


Texas National Guard to help with state's COVID-19 response

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas National Guard will help with drive-thru testing for coronavirus in the state. Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday the deployment of three National Guard Joint Task Force Brigades. Health officials say at least 27 people with COVID-19 in Texas have died while more than 2,000 have tested positive. Officials say more than 25,000 people in the state have been tested. Abbott says he's ordered the guardsman to initially focus on assisting drive-thru testing sites and bolstering the state’s health care infrastructure with medical providers, equipment and supplies.


Texas ambulance provider to do coronavirus testing at homes

HOUSTON (AP) — A North Texas ambulance provider is partnering with health officials so that its paramedics can go into homes and perform coronavirus testing on previously screened patients. Specially trained paramedics with MedStar will be sent to the homes of Tarrant County residents who are being investigated by officials as possibly having the virus. Matt Zavadsky, a spokesman for the ambulance provider, says the tests aren't open to the public, only for those being monitored by the county health department. Specially trained paramedics will go to a home, take a swab from a patient and return the sample for testing. The home visits will take about 30 minutes.


Texas man jailed for online threats against Nancy Pelosi

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (AP) — Authorities say a Texas man faces federal charges after he made online posts threatening Democrats, including U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Gavin Weslee Blake Perry of Wichita Falls was charged Wednesday with transmitting a threatening communication in interstate commerce. Federal prosecutors say Perry wrote threatening posts on Facebook. Federal prosecutors say Perry admitted making the Facebook posts and that he told law enforcement he did so because he wanted to warn Americans to beware of the government. If convicted, Perry faces up to five years in prison.


States impose new restrictions on travelers from New York

BOSTON (AP) — States are pulling back the welcome mat for travelers from the New York area, which is the epicenter for the nation's outbreak. Governors in Texas, Florida, Maryland and South Carolina this week ordered people arriving from the New York area to self-quarantine for at least 14 days. Connecticut officials have pleaded to New Yorkers not to visit unless absolutely necessary. But the most dramatic steps taken to date come from Rhode Island, where state police are pulling over drivers with New York plates to collect their contact information and the National Guard is enforcing the order at bus stations, train stations and airports.


Are gun shops 'essential' businesses during a pandemic?

There's no consensus in the U.S. on whether gun shops are considered essential businesses that can remain open during stay-at-home orders meant to slow the coronavirus. Some gun rights advocates are concerned about an erosion of Second Amendment rights just as Americans are buying firearms in record numbers to try to protect their families. Even some gun control advocates worry that closing down licensed gun dealers would send people online or to private sales that don't require background checks. But they also say keeping shops open could mean more first-time buyers who lack training on how to safely handle a gun.


Judge mulls request to release migrant children over virus

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge says she doesn't want a sudden, large-scale release of immigrant children from U.S. government custody but wants to know why they're still being held as the coronavirus spreads. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Los Angeles said Friday she wants to be sure immigrant children caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border alone are released to suitable sponsors in an orderly fashion. She didn't immediately issue a final ruling in a teleconferenced hearing that came after immigrant advocates asked her to order the prompt release of children. Authorities say four migrant children in custody in New York tested positive for the coronavirus, as well as eight staff, contractors or foster parents in New York, Washington and Texas.