Coronavirus in Texas: State lawmaker reportedly wants a coronavirus task force to look at racial disparities

An advertisement from Medical Center Hospital in Odessa urges people to stay home. Ben Powell for The Texas Tribune

Wednesday’s biggest developments:

  • In election year, Texas Democrats try to offer contrast without politicizing crisis
  • The commission that regulates the oil and gas industry is weighing oil production limits

Texas oil and gas regulators weighing whether to limit oil production

[5 a.m.] The three elected officials who lead the Texas Railroad Commission appeared nowhere near making a decision about limiting oil production Tuesday night. But they did take more than 10 hours of testimony during a meeting Tuesday. The commissioners are weighing whether to limit production in the middle of parallel public health and economic crises brought on by the novel coronavirus — and at least one admits that they don’t know how such a limit would be implemented or enforced.

“We don’t know if we can manage it,” Commissioner Christi Craddick said.

The commissioners heard from energy executives and oil producers who opposed and support such a move. If the commissioners were to limit production, it would be the first time since the 1970s that Texas officials have made such a move. — Mitchell Ferman

State lawmaker pushes Gov. Abbott to look into coronavirus impacts on black Texans

[5 a.m.] State Rep. Shawn Thierry wants Gov. Greg Abbott to form a task force to look at the coronavirus pandemic's potentially inequitable impact on black Texans, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Last week, The Texas Tribune reported that an emerging national picture shows black Americans are disproportionately getting sick and dying from COVID-19, but sparse data has been collected in Texas to determine if the same trend is playing out in the state's black and Hispanic communities.

Texas Democrats try to strike right tone in response to pandemic

[5 a.m.] The novel coronavirus doesn’t discriminate between political parties. But the federal and statewide response to the contagion is being led by elected officials in a massively important election year. And as some Texas Democrats criticize Republicans for the nation’s now-ruinous economy and rising death toll, they’re grappling with a particularly fraught political landscape: Can they make gains for their own party without appearing like they’re politicizing — or rooting for — a global health tragedy?

As the opposition party, Democrats have to strike a delicate balance.

“They have to show that their comments are objective and not driven by animosity,” said William DeSoto, an associate professor of political science at Texas State University. “You have to try to be objective and not just seem like you’re doing a hit job.” — Alex Samuels

More than 14,600 Texans have tested positive and more than 300 have died

[5 a.m.] Texas officials later Wednesday are expected to release the latest figures on how many Texans have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and how many have died from COVID-19, the disease it causes. The Texas Tribune is tracking how many people are infected and mapping where they live in the state. On Tuesday, the state disclosed that at least 14,624 people have been infected and at least 318 have died.

Disclosure: Texas State University has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.