Coronavirus in Texas: 53,449 cases and 1,480 deaths

What you need to know this weekend:

Outbreak at immigrant detention center near Abilene infects more than 25% of residents

[4:05 p.m.] An outbreak at a recently opened immigrant detention center outside of Abilene has left more than one-quarter of its residents infected with COVID-19, the El Paso Times reported Saturday.

The outbreak at the Bluebonnet Detention Center in rural West Texas is the second-largest among the nation’s 49 immigration detention centers that have seen positive cases.

The center, originally meant to be a state prison, opened just before Christmas and is run by Management and Training Corp., or MTC, and houses 417 men and women. Of those, 111 have tested positive, along with six of the center’s 118 staff members, the newspaper reported.

Previous detention center outbreaks have led to strained relations between local leaders and private contractors in Texas. Earlier this month, Frio County commissioners demanded answers from officials with the GEO Group after the virus took hold at the South Texas ICE Processing Center in Pearsall, south of San Antonio. — Jeremy Schwartz

Houston Museum of Fine Arts first major U.S. art museum to reopen

Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts will reopen Saturday, becoming the nation’s first major art museum to do so since the coronavirus pandemic began, Texas Monthly reports. Among the planned safety measures are required masks for visitors older than 2, temperature checks, and museum staff opening and closing all doors. The 300,000-square-foot building will be open to 900 visitors at a time, or 25% of its capacity, and 6 feet of social distancing will be enforced, according to Texas Monthly. — Emily Goldstein

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“Have they been anywhere? Have they been afraid to go out of their house? This is a scam by the Democrats to steal the election.”

— Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick

Patrick enters vote-by-mail debate: Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in an interview Friday that efforts to expand mail-in voting during the coronavirus amount to a “scam by Democrats to steal the election.”
Dell Medical School’s first cohort graduates: Over the next month, the inaugural class, which attended a virtual graduation ceremony, will scatter across the country to begin residencies in the thick of a pandemic.

Sixth Street in downtown Austin features COVID-19-related art.
Photo credit:  Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

The politics of masks: Arguments about wearing masks in public are occurring everywhere from retail stores to the highest levels of government. And for some, forgoing masks in public during the coronavirus pandemic has become a political statement.

Texas reports 53,449 cases and 1,480 deaths

Texas is expected to release its latest coronavirus figures Saturday afternoon. The state reported 1,181 more cases of the new coronavirus Friday, an increase of about 2% over the previous day, bringing the total number of known cases to 53,449. It also reported 40 additional deaths, bringing the statewide total to 1,480 — an increase of about 3% from Thursday. See maps of the latest case numbers for each county and case rates per 1,000 residents.

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