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Texas COVID-19 cases top 10,000, deaths go past 200

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The volume of patients in Texas with the illness caused by the novel coronavirus has topped 10,000, with the number of deaths topping 200. The case numbers updated hourly by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University tallied 10,439 cases in Texas as of late Thursday afternoon. That is up from just over 9,300 reported by Texas state health officials Wednesday morning. Fatalities in Texas from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, reached 205 Thursday afternoon. That's up from the 177 Texas deaths reported by state health officials Wednesday morning.


Judge blocks ban on some Texas abortions during outbreak

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal judge has blocked the enforcement, in some cases, of an executive order banning abortions in Texas during the coronavirus pandemic. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had issued the order, which has been upheld by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But Planned Parenthood and other clinics asked a judge to allow abortions in some cases, including medication abortions and abortions in which a delay would make the procedure illegal. A federal appeals court has sided with the state's ability to ban abortions during the outbreak. Similar legal fights are being waged in Alabama, Ohio, Oklahoma and Iowa.


'Houston, we’ve had a problem’: Remembering Apollo 13 at 50

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Apollo 13's astronauts still shun superstition 50 years after their harrowing moonshot. Mission commander Jim Lovell and Fred Haise say they never gave a thought to their mission number as they blasted off for the moon on April 11, 1970. Their mission was aborted when an oxygen tank ruptured two days later, on April 13. The way Lovell sees it, he's incredibly lucky to have survived and to be around at age 92 for the golden anniversary. Haise, who's 86, regards Apollo 13 as NASA's most successful failure. Their anniversary celebrations are on hold because of the pandemic.


Night lights at school fields across nation a 'sign of hope'

The principal at Dumas High School in the Texas Panhandle wanted a way to brighten spirits for students stuck at home during the pandemic. Brett Beesley's decision to turn on the stadium lights quickly became a nationwide trend. Dumas football coach Aaron Dunnam flips the switch each weeknight at 8 p.m. for an hour of hope and encouragement. He's joined at the field by his daughter, Lyssa, a senior at the school. Athletic officials in Colorado and Minnesota helped spread the word and spur movements in their states, too.


Ex-Ranger Hamilton indicted, accused of beating daughter, 14

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Former Texas Rangers star Josh Hamilton has been indicted on a felony charge of injury to a child after his teenage daughter accused him of beating her. A Tarrant County grand jury indicted the 38-year-old Hamilton on Monday. He remains free on $30,000 bond after he turned himself in to authorities on Oct. 30. If convicted, he faces a prison sentence of two to 10 years in prison. His attorneys say the Texas Rangers Hall of Famer is innocent of the charge. His 14-year-old daughter told her mother, Hamilton's ex-wife, that her father struck her after he became enraged by a comment from her.


Tornado or virus? Pandemic means tough sheltering decisions

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Each day brings the United States closer to peak severe weather season, and Tornado Alley residents are faced with a question: Is it better to take on a twister outside a community shelter or to face the possibility of contracting the new coronavirus inside one? Tornado-prone states including Alabama and Kansas are recommending that people go into shelters if dangerous weather is approaching. Hundreds of people filled shelters in the Tennessee Valley during a weather threat last month. But some say they'd rather take their chances with a twister than COVID-19. The dilemma could get worse if the virus is still a threat when hurricane season starts June 1.


Some churches confront virus restrictions on Easter services

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — At the holiest time of year for Christians, churches are wrestling with how to hold services amid the coronavirus outbreak. In some cases, that has set up showdowns between pastors and local officials over restrictions that forbid large gatherings. Many churches are offering parishioners livestreaming options to observe Good Friday and Easter services on TVs, phones and computers. Others are sending worshippers to drive-in movie theaters for services. Governors in several states have deemed church an “essential service,” allowing Easter worship to proceed even as public health officials warn that large gatherings could be a major setback amid a pandemic that has killed more than 14,000 people in the U.S.


US expels thousands to Mexico after largely halting asylum

U.S. authorities say they've sent nearly 10,000 Mexican and Central American border crossers back to Mexico under new rules designed to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The Trump administration has essentially shut down the nation’s asylum system by setting aside decades of immigration laws. People seeking refuge in the U.S. are whisked to the nearest border crossing and returned to Mexico without a chance to seek asylum. The Trump administration is relying on a seldom-used public health law and has offered little detail on the rules. Fewer than 100 people are now in Customs and Border Protection custody.


Oil-producing nations seek global deal to stabilize market

MOSCOW (AP) — Oil-producing countries including those of the OPEC cartel and Russia are trying to strike a global deal to pump less crude. They are seeking to limit a crash in prices that has pushed energy companies toward bankruptcy. Reports were circulating late Thursday that OPEC and Russia had reached a tentative deal to cut production by 10 million barrels per day for two months. President Donald Trump says he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and King Salman of Saudi Arabia about the negotiations. He says they're getting close to a deal.


US charges 2 with terror crimes over threats to spread virus

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department has charged two people with federal terrorism offenses for claiming they were intentionally trying to spread the new coronavirus. The charges announced Wednesday were brought in separate cases in Texas and Florida. They come about a week after Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen instructed federal prosecutors across the U.S. that they could charge people who threaten to spread the coronavirus under the terrorism statutes because the Justice Department considers it a “biological agent” under the law.