Coronavirus in Texas: Two Texans in Congress criticize federal food distribution contract given to San Antonio company

What you need to know Wednesday:

Texas testing sites disproportionately located in white neighborhoods

In four out of six of the largest cities in Texas, testing sites for the coronavirus are disproportionately located in whiter neighborhoods, according to an analysis by NPR. Dallas saw the highest disparity, with 22 sites in census tracts that are predominantly white and only seven sites in areas that are less white than the city’s median. Similar trends were identified in El Paso, Austin and Fort Worth.

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has pointed out, there is growing evidence that shows that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected people of color for several reasons, which include their living conditions, lack of paid sick leave, less access to health care and other historical inequalities.

Dr. Philip Huang, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, said to NPR that part of the disparity reflects the “private sector availability of tests in the northern part of Dallas compared to southern Dallas” and that the county is focusing its capacity on filling this gap as much as possible.

“We have been trying to definitely target those resources that we have control over into those areas,” Huang said.

Houston is the exception in the trend, with 18 testing sites in neighborhoods of color, compared to 13 in areas that are predominantly white. — Juan Pablo Garnham

Texas Supreme Court bars most jury trials through August 1

[10:52 a.m.] The Texas Supreme Court is barring most jury selection proceedings and jury trials through August 1, according to a new order issued Wednesday.

Most jury trials had previously been on hold. Moving forward, if judge wishes for a jury trial, both the prosecution and the defense have to agree to it, and health precautions will have to be abided by.

The court is also allowing remote proceedings to continue in Texas and established that existing grand juries can meet remotely or in-person as long as health precautions are taken.

As part of the same order, most deadlines for civil and criminal cases were extended to September 30. — Juan Pablo Garnham

U.S. representatives from Texas criticize federal contract given to San Antonio events company

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s award of a $39 million food distribution contract to a San Antonio events company has drawn criticism from two members of Congress from Texas, the San Antonio Express-News reports.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro has asked for an investigation into CRE8AD8’s contract for a food relief program during the coronavirus pandemic. Democratic U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett said the contract should be canceled.

Those calls come after the Express-News reported that the event planner who owns the company “boasted about clients who say they’ve never worked with him, cited unearned professional credentials and touted business affiliations that can’t be verified.” — Brandon Formby

Trib stories you may have missed:

  • Medical debt: Hundreds of debt collection lawsuits have been filed since Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster because of COVID-19 in mid-March, according to the Health Care Research and Policy Team at Johns Hopkins University. The researchers’ report, released Wednesday, also found 28 of 414 hospitals in 62 Texas counties sued Texas patients between January 2018 and February 2020, before the pandemic.
  • Election guidelines: The Texas secretary of state on Tuesday issued “minimum recommended health protocols” for elections, including a suggestion that voters bring their own hand sanitizer to the polls and that they “may want to consider” voting curbside if they have symptoms of COVID-19. Secretary of State Ruth Hughs laid out checklists for voters and election workers that range from self-screening for symptoms to increased sanitation of voting equipment.
From left: Paetun Beavers, 11, her mother Tie Hernandez, Andre Cameron and their son Kingstun Beavers, 9, outside their ro...

Abbott expected to provide update on Amarillo-area outbreak

Roughly three weeks after state and federal teams descended on the Panhandle to address the explosion of new coronavirus cases tied to local meatpacking plants, Gov. Greg Abbott will give an update from the region at 2 p.m. Wednesday. The state recorded more than 700 new cases of coronavirus on May 16 after targeted testing at meatpacking plants in the area. The state’s “surge response teams,” which include health officials, emergency response workers and the National Guard, aimed to provide more personal protective equipment and testing supplies, and they worked with local officials to put in place additional standards to contain the outbreak. You can watch Abbott’s update here.

Texas reports 56,560 cases and 1,536 deaths

Texas officials on Wednesday are expected to release the latest number of Texans who have tested positive for the new coronavirus. As of Tuesday, a least 56,560 have contracted the virus, and at least 1,536 have died. See maps of the latest case numbers for each county and case rates per 1,000 residents. — Carla Astudillo

Disclosure: The Texas secretary of state has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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