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Coronavirus updates in Texas: Fourth execution in Texas put on hold due to coronavirus

A Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper talks with a driver at a rest stop along Interstate, 10 Monday, March 30, 2020, in Orange, Texas, near the Louisiana state border. Texas is ratcheting up restrictions on neighboring Louisiana, one of the growing hot spots for coronavirus in the U.S. Just two days after Texas began requiring airline passengers from New Orleans to comply with a two-week quarantine, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said state troopers will now also patrol highway entry points at the Louisiana border. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
A Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper talks with a driver at a rest stop along Interstate, 10 Monday, March 30, 2020, in Orange, Texas, near the Louisiana state border. Texas is ratcheting up restrictions on neighboring Louisiana, one of the growing hot spots for coronavirus in the U.S. Just two days after Texas began requiring airline passengers from New Orleans to comply with a two-week quarantine, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said state troopers will now also patrol highway entry points at the Louisiana border. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (AP)

A fourth Texas execution has been delayed because of the new coronavirus. At the request of prosecutors, the trial court moved Billy Joe Wardlow’s execution from April 29 to July 8, according to the Titus County District Clerk’s office.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has already halted the three other executions that were scheduled in March and April — issuing 60-day stays in the cases of John Hummel, Tracy Beatty and Fabian Hernandez. In two orders, the court said the decisions were made "in light of the current health crisis and the enormous resources needed to address that emergency."

Prosecutors in Tarrant and Smith counties were against stopping the first two executions; El Paso’s district attorney did not file a response in Hernandez’s case. Those counties must wait 60 days before requesting a new execution date, which must be set more than 90 days in advance. Aside from Wardlow’s new July date, five other executions are scheduled in Texas from May to September. — Jolie McCullough

Checkpoints set up at Louisiana border

Texas has set up road checkpoints along the Louisiana border as it increases enforcement of Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order requiring visitors from the neighboring state to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Abbott and Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen tweeted about the checkpoints Sunday, with the latter describing them as “roadway screening stations to gather [required] forms” for self-quarantining. Abbott’s order, issued March 29, requires drivers coming in to Texas from Louisiana to fill out a form designating a quarantine location in Texas.

“On Sunday, April 5, 2020, checkpoints and screening of vehicles by the Texas Department of Public Safety began on all roadways entering Texas from Louisiana,” the Louisiana State Police wrote Sunday morning on Facebook, attaching photos of signs pointing drivers off of highways to checkpoints.

DPS said in a statement that the checkpoints will be in the Texas counties that border Louisiana and located on “major roadways in these counties, including interstate highways and other high-volume routes.” Drivers entering Texas from Louisiana should be prepared to stop, the department said.

DPS initially said it did not plan to establish checkpoints at the border but vowed to “vigorously” enforce Abbott’s multiple self-quarantine requirements. He has also mandated 14-day self-quarantines for air travelers from Louisiana, as well as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and Miami. — Patrick Svitek