KERA

State lawmakers are demanding answers about the power outages that left millions of Texans in the dark and cold during last week's winter storm.

The first hearings into what went wrong took place Thursday.

The head of the state's power grid operator on Thursday defended the group’s decision to order widespread blackouts during last week's winter storm, telling state lawmakers that doing so helped prevent a larger disaster.

Gov. Greg Abbott, speaking Wednesday evening in a rare statewide televised address, sought to reassure Texans that the state was moving aggressively to get to the bottom of the power grid failure that left millions of them in the cold and dark last week.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is apologizing for turning away two people eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations on Saturday because they could not prove they live in the United States.

On Feb. 21, it posted a statement on Twitter. UT Health Rio Valley, the clinical practice of the university, stated it "apologizes to those patients who were affected" and "did not follow the most current State of Texas guidelines."

Heather and John Paul Dineen said they did everything they could to prepare their farm for the winter storm and extreme cold temperatures that have wreaked havoc on Texas this week.

The Waxahachie couple — fulltime farmers — stocked up on food, water and extra hay for their cattle. They made sure their equipment was in working condition and they winterized their property, draining water from outside hoses and covering exposed faucets and pipes.

But even that wasn’t quite enough.

ERCOT To End Emergency Conditions, Oncor Works To Restore Power

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said it expects to come out of emergency conditions later this morning.

“There is enough generation on the electric system to allow us to begin to return to more normal operating conditions,” said Senior Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin in a statement.

No additional outages were needed overnight to keep power supply and electric demand in balance.

Why Does Texas Have Its Own Power Grid?

Feb 16, 2021

Why does Texas have its own electric grid?

Texas' secessionist inclinations have at least one modern outlet: the electric grid. There are three grids in the Lower 48 states: the Eastern Interconnection, the Western Interconnection — and Texas.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is headed to Texas, and they’re bringing loads of COVID-19 vaccine doses.

North Texas is experiencing what will almost certainly be the coldest cold snap so far this century, with lows in the single digits and wind chills well below zero. Temperatures haven't dropped below 10 degrees in Dallas since 1990, and haven't gone below zero since 1930.

Rotating Power Outages Issued

The Texas council that manages the majority of the state's electricity initiated rotating power outages Monday morning as a winter storm dropped snow and ice and temperatures remained below freezing. But some customers were without power for several hours.

Governor Abbott designated civil liabilities protections as one of five emergency items for lawmakers to prioritize within the first 60 days of the new Legislative Session.

These protections would prevent businesses from being sued in COVID-19-related lawsuits. According to a lawsuit tracker by Hunton Andrews Kurth law firm, there have been 621 COVID-19 related complaints filed in Texas since March 2020.

Monahans, Texas, is a city in the Permian Basin — home to attractions like the Monahans Sandhills State Park, dubbed an “ocean of sand.”

For residents in the tight-knit community, a lack of reliable broadband internet access hinders everyday life.

A federal watchdog for pandemic relief funding is asking for information about Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s efforts to change a loan program. Requirements of the program were altered soon after Cruz wrote to officials in charge. The changes benefitted major Cruz donors.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s failed lawsuit seeking to throw out election results in other states came originally from lawyers close to the campaign of former President Donald Trump, according to a report in the

Republican lawmakers, buoyed by a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court and the trouncing of state-level Democrats in the November election, are pushing to reclaim Texas’ role as the vanguard among states restricting access to abortion this legislative session.

Texas will soon begin a program to test drinking water in thousands of elementary schools and child care facilities across the state following an update to federal standards on lead and copper exposure.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday said his health priorities for this year’s legislative session include expanding telemedicine across the state, increasing services for those dealing with mental health issues, and making sure Texas has an adequate supply of personal protection equipment.

His public comments came after a meeting in Houston with state health leaders and the president and CEO of Houston Methodist Hospital to brief them on his priorities for Texas lawmakers, who returned to the Capitol last week.

A North Texas man has been arrested for alleged crimes in connection with his participation in this month’s riots at the U.S. Capitol, the FBI announced Monday.

Guy Reffitt of Wylie has been charged with unlawful entry and obstruction of justice. He’s at least the fourth North Texan to face charges related to the attack.

In an affidavit, an FBI agent said Reffitt was part of the large crowd that gathered outside the Capitol.

A year ago, Dhaval Babu flew to India to visit his sick parents. It was supposed to be a short trip; the San Antonio resident planned to fly home in February.

But the U.S. consulate in Mumbai asked him for more documents before it could approve his return to the U.S. As a result, his flight home was postponed. Then came the pandemic and in March, the American consulates in India and around the world closed.

A Beginner's Guide To The Texas Legislature

Jan 12, 2021

Texas lawmakers begin the 87th legislative session Tuesday. While you may know the body's main objective is to pass laws – especially the next state budget – you might not know much else.

That's not a criticism! The legislative process can be complex, so let's go over the basics of what the Legislature is and how it works.

Why does the Legislature meet for only 140 days every other year?

Texas Announces Sites For Next COVID-19 Vaccine Shipment

Jan 11, 2021

Texas health officials on Sunday released a list of coronavirus "vaccination hubs" that will receive the state's next shipment of vaccines.

The 28 hubs will get 158,825 doses of the vaccine this week, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Another 38,300 doses will go to other providers across the state.

The number of doses that each provider is getting is based on its own estimate of how many people it could vaccinate in a week, DSHS said.

Gov. Greg Abbott had a message for healthcare providers on Monday: Give out all the COVID-19 vaccine you have. Don’t hold on to it to make sure people get their second dose.

Abbott visited the mass vaccination site at the Arlington Expo Center for a press conference about how vaccine rollout is going, exactly one month after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the first vaccine for emergency use.

What You Can Do When Facing An Eviction In Texas

Dec 31, 2020

In early December, according to the Census Bureau, more than a million Texans said they weren’t able to pay rent that month, and even more worried they’d be unable to make rent in January. About three-quarters of them are families with children in the home.

Madison Knefley is crouched down in the entrance of a small closet, surrounded by books of all different shapes, sizes, and colors.

She and a few other scouts are neatly stacking them onto a bookshelf — picture books at the bottom where little hands can reach, and chapter books on top.

Knefley is putting the finishing touches on her Eagle Project, one of the requirements to earn the Eagle Scout rank. She started a book drive and set up a community library at a public housing complex in Lake Highlands.

KERA’s Sam Baker talked about how long antibody and vaccine protection lasts with Dr. Robert Gottlieb of Baylor, Scott and White Hospital System. He led clinical trials in North Texas on the COVID treatment, Remdesivir, and is researching a COVID-19 vaccine for Johnson and Johnson.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

How Antibodies Work:

According to the Census Bureau, more than a million Texas renters are now behind on rent; three-quarters of them are families with children in the home. Even more renters have little confidence they’ll be able to make rent in January.

“There’s no question there’s a huge need for rental assistance so that people can stay in their homes,” Texas Sen. John Cornyn said.

Abilene recently became the eighth region in Texas to meet Gov. Greg Abbott’s threshold for rolling back business capacity, as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19. A host of local leaders across the state say they would like to do more, but the governor’s statewide orders limit their power to impose restrictions — part of Texas’ ongoing struggle between state and local control.

The first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine began arriving arriving throughout the U.S. on Monday including in Texas, with health care workers first in line to receive the shots.

The Texas Department of State Health Services said 19,500 doses of the vaccine were headed Monday to four sites in Texas: MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Methodist Dallas Medical Center, Wellness 360 at UT Health San Antonio and UT Health Austin’s Dell Medical School.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced Wednesday that he wants to lower the threshold of support legislation needs to make it on to the Senate floor to match the size of the new, smaller Republican majority. It's the second time during his tenure that he's sought such a change, which would allow Republicans to continue deciding which bills are brought up for consideration without Democratic input.

Texas health officials on Monday said they hoped to start vaccinating the general public by next July, though that could change based on type of vaccine and how many doses the state receives.

In its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan update, the Texas Department of State Health Services laid out its phased approach to vaccinations, with the health agency expecting to have about 1.5 million vaccine doses available for limited distribution by the end of the month to hospital staff treating COVID-19 patients, as well as staff and residents at long-term care facilities.

Teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic isn't easy. Social distancing, remote learning and ramped-up school safety rules have, quite possibly, made education more challenging now than at any other time in recent memory.

That's one of major reasons the nonprofit Teach for America DFW has partnered with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence to focus on the mental health of educators.

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