Here are things to know for Monday, March 8:
1. Houston reaches grim milestone of 2,000 COVID-19 deaths
The city of Houston reached a grim milestone of the weekend.
Officials said the death toll for COVID-19 has crossed 2,000 people, only a few days after the one-year anniversary of the first Houston-area COVID-19 case.
While Gov. Abbott announced plans to fully reopen the state and rescind the mask order on Wednesday, Mayor Sylvester Turner said healthcare workers are still fighting against the virus.
“These healthcare providers medical professionals have been working around the clock,” Turner said during a press conference to urge business owners to enforce mask orders. “But I’m just concerned.. that with the governor opening up the entire state and saying pretty much 100% across the board.”
2. Turner says Abbott had no objection to mask order during Biden’s Houston visit
During a press conference Sunday with local health officials where he urged the public to wear masks, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott didn’t mention rescending the statewide mask order when President Joe Biden was in town a little more than a week ago.
On Feb. 26, Biden met with Turner, Abbott, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, and congressional members in Houston to discuss the state’s response to the winter storm, which left millions of Texans without water and power for days, and the COVID-19 response, which heavily depends on the ramping up distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Turner said that during the meeting the president told the group: “We will have to keep on our masks on for quite some time.”
3. Local leaders and health experts urging ‘mask off’ events to be canceled
People across the Lone Star state will no longer have to wear face-coverings and businesses will open back up to 100% starting on Wednesday. The new order has Mayor Sylvester Turner and other elected officials worried about “superspreader events,” such as “mask off” parties across the Houston-area.
“We are not the dumping ground for events that will put Texans in danger and cause people to lose their lives,” Turner said.
4. US gives hope to previously denied asylum seekers in camp
In a camp at the U.S.-Mexico border, some asylum seekers were told by officials that the U.S. government may reopen their cases and they would eventually be able to enter the U.S. to wait out the asylum process.
The new opening for people previously denied came as Mexican authorities worked to close the improvised camp along the banks of the Rio Grande, across from Brownsville, Texas, that has housed thousands of asylum seekers over the more than two years it existed.
5. Floyd’s cause of death, ex-cop’s force will be keys at trial
A Minneapolis police officer was swiftly fired and charged with murder after bystander video showed him pressing his knee into George Floyd’s neck, ignoring the Black man’s cries that he couldn’t breathe. But even with that powerful footage, legal experts say the case isn’t a slam dunk.
Jury selection begins Monday in Derek Chauvin’s trial, which is expected to come down to two key questions: Did Chauvin’s actions cause Floyd’s death, and were his actions reasonable?
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