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Texas Supreme Court Upholds Houston's Decision To Cancel Texas GOP Convention
The Texas Supreme Court has upheld Houston's refusal to allow the state Republican convention to hold in-person events in the city due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The court dismissed an appeal of a state district judge's denial of a temporary restraining order sought by the state Republican Party.
The state GOP convention was scheduled to begin Thursday at Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said last week that he had directed city lawyers to terminate the contract because he believed the event could not be held safely.
"No one wanted to make this to even appear to be political," Mayor Turner said. "This is a political convention, and the last thing you want to do in the midst of a pandemic is to politicize it or to make it seem as though you're going out of your way to close the door."
Grapevine's GrapeFest 2020 Canceled Over Coronavirus Fears
Grapevine's 34th annual "GrapeFest" celebration has been canceled due to concerns over COVID-19. The festival had been scheduled September 17-20.
"It was a difficult decision, and we did this for the safety of our community," says the Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau's Sophia Stoller.
Organizers say GrapeFest was canceled for the safety of those attending, volunteers and staff. They they made the decision to cancel based on guidelines from the city and state.
Stoller says GrapeFest draws 260,000 people from around the world each year. The event puts 162 wines from 45 wineries in Texas on display.
In addition to wineries, Stoller says local restaurants in Grapevine's historic downtown benefit from GrapeFest. With TexRail now in its second year of service, she says she hopes more people will come to the city to try those restaurants.
"These restaurants and these local shops, which we have more than 200 of here in Grapevine, were so looking forward to GrapeFest. They have their doors open, and they're ready for visitors," she says.
Stoller says outdoor attractions remain open, and she hopes people with cabin fever will come to the city to take advantage of Lake Grapevine, Nash Farm and "WhoaZone" at Grapevine Beach.
"Grapevine is one place everybody wants to go to, especially now when families are considering their safety and not wanting to get on planes," she says. "It's really easy to just come visit here because there's so much to here in Grapevine."
Mexico Taking Extraordinary Measures To Stop Spread Of Virus
One reporter says everyone she saw wore a mask and observed social distancing.
Joy Diaz, a producer and reporter with the radio magazine show the Texas Standard just returned from spending three weeks in Mexico. "One of the things that was super interesting to me, having grown up in Mexico City, was to see the city without people. It's one of the largest cities in the world. There were no street vendors. All the storefronts were closed with hopeful signs as we see here in Texas, 'we will get out of this, we will succeed together.'
Grocery stores are open as they are essential businesses. "But coming into a supermarket meant that you stepped into a sanitizing mat to clean your feet, that you put sanitizer on your hands, that they took your temperature and that you wore a mask."
No children are allowed inside and only one person per family can enter.
She says the government has invested in this safety campaign, including "giant billboards of famous celebrities pointing at the highway if you were driving on the highway and saying 'what are you doing here? Go home.'
At every bus stop the bus stop had signs of this is what social distancing looks like. This is where your mask goes. Cover your mouth and nose.
She said at stoplights you would "hear a siren and a recording that asked 'what are you doing here? This is a high danger zone. Covid-19 is an infectious disease. Go home. Cover your mouth. The police want you to know face masks are mandatory. Reminders are everywhere,
She said an Uber driver told her "we are not getting checks like you all are. If we don't stick to these norms, if we don't flatten the curve and end the pandemic, we cannot get back to work and we don't have a safety net or unemployment checks. It felt like everybody was taking it seriously because it's the only option to make sure there's survival after this."
She says it was difficult to get interviews "people would physically back away from me when I approached them. They took physical distancing very seriously."
She says while hospitals in Mexico are overwhelmed, it's only those that treat Covid patients. The others are not, so elective surgeries can still be performed. Plus the non-Covid hospitals can take the overflow.
Austin City Council Considering Fine For Not Wearing Mask
The Austin city council is considering a fine for anyone caught out in public not wearing a mask.
In a letter to Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he supports that in the name of public health and safety. He wrote "As you know, these orders were created and adopted based on advice from medical experts, and if these orders are followed, we will be able to protect both public health and the livelihoods of our citizens."
Austin would fine mask violators up to $2,000.
Another ordinance would be civil action by the city against any businesses that do not comply with minimum health standards amid the pandemic.
Abbotts letter, while favorable to Adler, does not give him additional power beyond enforcing the Governor's orders.
Texas GOP Considers Legal Action Against Houston For Canceling Convention
While addressing new delegates online, Texas GOP Party Chairman James Dickey let them know the Party has no intention of letting Wednesday’s convention cancellation by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner go unchallenged.
“The Republican party of Texas received the letter canceling our 2020 Republican party of Texas state convention, and we will pursue all legal options possible against the city of Houston and Houston First (Corporation) to handle this disruption of our convention process,” said Dickey.
Dickey also let the delegates know that they have no desire to host an online convention, which is the State Republican Executive Committee’s official back-up plan. Dickey told them, “We want to continue to be judicious as we move forward. Know that the SREC has made it clear that it is our desire, as it has always been…to go forward with an in person convention.”
One option available for Texas Republicans could Montgomery County. On Wednesday night County Judge Mark Keough extended an invitation to host an in-person convention there.
Texas Carries Out First Execution In Five Months
Billy Wardlow was put to death for the 1993 murder of 82-year-old Carl Cole, 33 years ago in the East Texas town of Cason in Morris County.
The shooting took place during a bungled attempt to steal Cole's truck. Wardlow and his girlfriend were later found in South Dakota.
Eight executions scheduled between February and Wednesday have been postponed. Six were a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and two due to different issues.
Witnesses included a family friend of Cole's as well as state officials and two news reporters.
Robert Hurst with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice says "the agency had precautionary measures in place, including masks and temperature checks for all of the witnesses. We did require witnesses to stand six feet apart. There are two small viewing rooms in the execution chamber and both of those did have prison officials and the witness for the inmate and the reporters. From what I understand, everybody did comply with the procedures that were put in place."
Wardlow was actually first scheduled to be executed April 29th but his date was postponed due to the pandemic.
Wardlow was 18 at the time of the crime. His attorneys unsuccessfully petitioned the Supreme Court that he was too young for the jury to determine he was so great a future danger that the death penalty was warranted.
He did not offer a final statement.
The execution was the third in Texas this year.
Whataburger Giving Makeover To Several Restaurants, Expanding Outside Texas
One of Texas' favorite burger joints is getting makeover.
Don't worry the orange and white is staying put, but say goodbye to Whataburgers trademark A-frame design.
Whataburger says its merging old and new and will be deemphasizing its familiar A-frame shaped stores. The company says they will be adding glass to the front of the building, update the interior decor and refashion the kitchens.
The new interior will have a modern yet retro feel with and orange and grey seating.
Two locations are currently undergoing makeovers in San Antonio, and over the next 10 years all Whataburgers will get the same treatment.
And Whataburger is now franchising restaurants for the first time in 20 years, so if you're driving through Kansas City and Tennesee you might see a Whataburger soon.
Texas Correctional Officer Dies From COVID-19
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice posted on Facebook that 60-year-old Kenneth Harbin had been at Covenant Hospital in Lubbock since June 28th. He passed away on July 4th.
Harbin had been with the department for more than 30 years and was assigned to the Daniel Unit in Snyder.
The executive director of TDCJ Bryan Collier is quoted as saying, "Every death of one of our own is a tragic loss. The thoughts and prayers of his family in gray are with Officer Harbin’s loved ones and friends. He will not be forgotten."
"Officer Harbin was a great Correctional Officer and a better friend. He was always had a smile or a joke to make the day better! He always uplifted those around him and would take time out of his day to make sure you were ok, said Daniel Unit Senior Warden Michael Britt. "He was a selfless person and gave all he could to those he loved."
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says they have had nine employees pass away in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Texas Sets Record With More Than 10,000 New COVID-19 Cases In A Single Day
Texas has set a single-day record of new cases of COVID-19, confirming 10,028 additional cases Tuesday.
Only Florida and New York have reported more than 10,000 cases in a single day.
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services also says the state passed nine thousand total people in the hospital for the first time. Through Tuesday, hospitals had 9,286 COVID-19 patients, up from 6,904 at the beginning of July and 1,756 June 1.
"Today, Texas set an all-time record in the number of people testing positive, an all-time record in the number of people who are hospitalized and an all-time record in the number of deaths," says Governor Greg Abbott. "COVID-19 is spreading more dangerously and more rapidly across the state of Texas than it ever has."
Abbott says those numbers highlight the need to stay home unless necessary and wear a mask. He says he has received what appeared to be a "form letter" from several mayors and county judges asking for the authority to issue local orders with additional restrictions. He says those locations should instead focus on enforcing existing requirements, saying he has seen stories about bars opening or restaurants opening beyond 50 percent capacity.
"We need better, stronger enforcement," Abbott says. "If the current rules are followed and applied, we will not have to shut Texas back down."
Hospitals in North Texas reported 2,715 available hospital beds Tuesday, 320 open ICU beds and 1,213 available ventilators. July 1, they reported about 3,200 available beds, 455 open ICU beds and about 1,300 available ventilators.
"Many of our workforce, what I call heroes, have been working the last three and a half months to deal with COVID-19," says DFW Hospital Council President Stephen Love. "They can get fatigued. That's why we're just asking everyone: do your part."
Texas Rangers Get Corey Kluber in Trade from Cleveland
Rangers send Delino DeShields and pitching prospect Emmanuel Clase to the Indians
NBC 5 is reporting Corey Kluber led by example and excellence in Cleveland. The Texas Rangers are hoping he can do the same for them.
The Indians traded the two-time Cy Young Award winner -- and their unquestioned ace -- over the past six seasons to the Rangers on Sunday, a blockbuster deal that could dramatically change both teams.
In exchange for the 33-year-old Kluber, Cleveland received outfielder Delino DeShields and pitching prospect Emmanuel Clase, a hard-throwing 21-year-old with huge potential.
The stoic and steady Kluber has been one of baseball's most dominant pitchers since 2014, when he went 18-9 and won his first Cy Young. He got his second in 2017, going 18-4 and leading the AL with a 2.25 ERA.