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Coronavirus in Texas: State looking to let SNAP recipients order groceries online, report says

A store in downtown El Paso is shuttered during the coronavirus pandemic.
(Credit: Emily Kinskey)
A store in downtown El Paso is shuttered during the coronavirus pandemic. (Credit: Emily Kinskey) (The Texas Tribune)

Tuesday’s biggest developments:

  • Gov. Greg Abbott to provide update on state's efforts to limit COVID-19 spread
  • Report: Texas looking to join program allowing online grocery orders for SNAP recipients
  • Oil and gas regulators meet after prices plunge into the negatives

Report: Texas looking to join program allowing online grocery orders for SNAP recipients

[10:55 a.m.] Texas has requested to be part of a pilot program that allows SNAP recipients to order groceries online, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

Currently Lone Star Cards — Texas’ electronic benefit transfer card which works like a debit card — can only be used to buy groceries in-store as deemed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. While many Texans have turned to online grocery shopping and delivery services to limit exposure to the new coronavirus, these resources aren’t available to families who use SNAP.

In-person shopping has long been a concern for groups including the elderly, people with disabilities and people in food-insecure areas, whose access barriers have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. As of Tuesday, the pilot program, which launched in April, is only available through Amazon, Walmart and a few local grocery stores in Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Oregon and Washington, according to the USDA. — Stacy Fernández

Gov. Greg Abbott to provide update on state’s efforts

[10:35 a.m.] In a 2 p.m. news conference Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott will provide the latest information about efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Nearly 20,000 Texans have tested positive, and 495 died from the virus as of April 20, according to state health officials. You can watch the news conference here.

Texas Railroad Commission holds first meeting after oil prices drop to historic lows

[5 a.m.] The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the state’s oil and gas industry, is scheduled to meet at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday after a historic Monday, when oil prices plunged into the negatives. The commission also met last week and took more than 10 hours of testimony from dozens of energy executives, analysts and critics who disagreed about whether the state agency should limit production.

Some say that such cuts would help, while others say the commission should not interfere in the free market, which is being battered by a huge drop in demand.

“We are evaluating all options to protect Texas operators and mineral owners,” Ed Longanecker, president of the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association, told The Texas Tribune. — Mitchell Ferman

Texas nears 20,000 positive cases as nearly 500 people have died

[5 a.m.] Texas officials are expected Tuesday afternoon to release the latest number of people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. On Monday, the state reported a total of 19,458 cases in Texas. At least 495 people have died.

See maps of the latest case numbers for each county and case rates per 1,000 residents.