SAN ANTONIO (AP) – The surging coronavirus continued to strain hospitals in Texas Friday, as some hard-hit parts of the state remained under curfews aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19 over the holiday weekend. State health authorities reported more than 8,500 people hospitalized in Texas with COVID-19 Friday, a drop from 8,700 Thursday. The figure is up more than 50% from a month ago. State data show limited intensive-care unit capacity in regions including the Texas Panhandle and El Paso area. The Texas Department of State Health Services reported 2,473 confirmed cases of COVID-19 Friday and another 51 deaths.
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – The family of an oil executive convicted and ordered to prison in Venezuela alongside five others is appealing directly to President Nicolas Maduro for mercy. Jose Pereira’s relatives sent a letter Friday asking Maduro to release all six men. The judge’s verdict came out a day earlier against the executives of Houston-based Citgo, owned by Venezuela’s PDVSA oil firm. It’s been three years since they were lured to Caracas and jailed on corruption charges. Pereira’s family says he’s fighting several health problems and needs medical care. Pereira received a sentence of 13 years, longer than the others.
AMARILLO (AP) – A Texas Panhandle mayor who’s battling cancer and whose city is dealing with a surge in coronavirus cases has announced she and her husband have tested positive for COVID-19. Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson said Wednesday her husband tested positive last week. Nelson got an initial negative test but after her symptoms worsened, she got another test and it came back positive. Nelson says her family is doing fine and she asked residents to think about her experience with an initial negative test in deciding whether to get together with family members who may be at risk for the virus.
HOUSTON (AP) – The U.S. government has appealed a judge’s order barring the expulsions of immigrant children who crossed the border alone, a policy enacted during the coronavirus pandemic to deny the children asylum protections. Judge Emmet Sullivan issued a preliminary injunction on Nov. 18 sought by advocates for immigrants that barred expulsions of unaccompanied children under public health laws. The Justice Department on Wednesday night also asked Sullivan to issue a stay of the injunction pending appeal, a request he previously denied.
CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) – Managers are pumping water from state reservoirs into the Pecos River in southeastern New Mexico to account for drought losses. The move is meant to augment supplies for users and water rights holders along the river while maintaining deliveries to Texas required by a 2003 settlement. About one-third of New Mexico is dealing with exceptional drought – the highest designation under which fire danger increases, no surface water is available for agriculture and large rivers run dry. Most of Eddy, Lea and Chaves counties are in that category, while drought in the rest of the state is classified as either severe or extreme.