Coronavirus updates in Texas: SNAP and Medicaid coverage in Texas extended

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Saturday’s biggest developments

    • Texas now reporting more than 2,000 coronavirus cases
    • SNAP and Medicaid coverage in Texas extended
    • State judge could overturn McKinney shelter-in-place order

Texas now reporting more than 2,000 coronavirus cases

[1 p.m.] On Saturday, Texas reported 2,052 cases of the new coronavirus — a 19% increase over Friday, when the state reported 1,731 cases.

The state is also reporting four additional deaths, bringing the statewide total to 27.

Dallas County reported the most cases, at 367, followed by Harris, which reported 229 cases. As of Friday, 111 of the state’s 254 counties had reported at least one coronavirus case. Dallas County is also reporting seven deaths, more than any other county. Bexar County has reported five deaths, making it the county with the second highest total deaths.

Texas also reported a total of 25,260 coronavirus tests have been run. This represents an increase of about 7% over what the state reported on Friday. Chris Essig

SNAP and Medicaid coverage in Texas extended

[11:45 a.m.] The Texas Health and Human Services Commission got federal permission to extend SNAP and Medicaid coverage for existing clients until further notice — so people can continue to receive food assistance and subsidized medical benefits without needing to reapply.

Texas is also allowing households to apply for SNAP, the federal food assistance program, without needing to complete an interview, as long as they verify their identities. The state will be able to process applications faster and provide services for more people.

“During this difficult time, we’re making sure Texans in need continue to receive their food and medical benefits without the added worry of having to renew their coverage in the midst of a crisis,” said Wayne Salter, HHSC’s executive commissioner for access and eligibility services. — Aliyya Swaby

North Texas officials' dueling coronavirus orders headed for court

[5:00 a.m.] A state district judge could overturn McKinney officials’ shelter-in-place order next week because its definition of an essential business is more strict than Collin County Judge Chris Hill’s order, according to The Dallas Morning News.

McKinney is the county seat of Collin. And the differing orders in the overlapping jurisdictions are at the heart of a lawsuit filed by a real estate agent, the paper reports.

The suit comes after Gov. Greg Abbott declined to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order, which typically mandates residents remain at home so pandemics, like the new coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease, are slowed or stopped.

Such orders, a patchwork of which have popped up across Texas, generally define what constitutes an essential business and allow people to travel to those places if they work there or are seeking the establishments’ services or products.

Abbott’s controversial decision to forgo a uniform statewide order has not only left Texans living under local orders that vary by jurisdiction, but has also exposed fault lines between officials in all levels of government who have different opinions on how to prioritize public health and economic viability. — Brandon Formby

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2020/03/28/coronavirus-updates-texas-mckinney-coronavirus-order-spurs-lawsuit/.

"Coronavirus updates in Texas: SNAP and Medicaid coverage in Texas extended" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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