KERA

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.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows women still only earn 81 cents for every dollar earned by a man. A new report finds that gap is bigger in Texas, where woman earn 79.4% of what men earn on average.

A report released by the Austin-based financial technology company Self compared the income of full-time working men and women in metro areas with more than 100,000 people.

Texas could receive coronavirus vaccine doses to immunize up to 700,000 Texans in December, assuming U.S. health officials approve coronavirus vaccine candidates from drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has promised to send Texas as many as 1.4 million doses of forthcoming vaccines in the month of December, Abbott said. The vaccines require two doses per person, and state health officials have said health care workers will be first in line.

Andy Posner founded the Capital Good Fund in Rhode Island right before the last recession, and he says he's seen first hand how the much-vaunted economic recovery after 2008 left a lot of people behind.

More and more people, even those working full-time or more, have been left without the capacity to make ends meet over the last decade. So, they turned to payday and auto title loans, pawn shops and other quick-cash options when hit with an emergency expense or just a higher-than-usual utility bill.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday touted the arrival of a new antibody treatment as progress in Texas' fight against the coronavirus, while again ruling out any new statewide business restrictions as the state experiences alarming growth in cases and hospitalizations.

"It is important for everybody in the state to know that statewide we’re not gonna have another shutdown," Abbott said during a news conference in Lubbock. "There's an overestimation of exactly what a shutdown will achieve, and there's a misunderstanding about what a shutdown will not achieve."

At El Paso's Perches Funeral Homes, manager Jorge Ortiz wheeled a body into his chapel. But not for a funeral service.

"The last two weeks, we have received more COVID cases than the past, I would say, months," said Ortiz.

So many bodies have come in, he said he had to create extra space. That meant converting the chapel into a makeshift storage cooler.

"When we hit the peak back in maybe the summer ... that’s nothing compared to what we’re living right now," Ortiz said.

Straight ticket voting had allowed Texans to vote for all the candidates in their chosen political party in one fell swoop.

But that option wasn’t on offer in the recent election, the result of a law passed by the 2017 state Legislature that went into effect for the first time this year.

Some thought even more people would only vote for the top of the ticket without the straight-ticket option. The drop-off still happened, but less than expected.

5 Reasons Why Republicans Won In Texas

Nov 12, 2020

Republicans retained total control of state government in last week’s election, which means leaders in the party will be able to re-draw state and Congressional district lines next year.

Here are five reasons they won:

1. Door-to-door canvassing

The foot soldiers, so to speak, were activists like Sue Reeves of Fairview, a precinct chair with the Collin County GOP.

Immigrant advocates are concerned that another round of asylum seekers from Cameroon may soon be deported from a North Texas detention center, a month after dozens of Cameroonian and Congolese migrants were already deported.

An Indian Affairs Task Force has been created to help solve the thousands of cold cases involving missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

The University of North Texas Health Science Center is using its forensic crime laboratory to try and help figure out what's happening and investigate hundreds of cases.

Originally published by The 19th:

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With early election results rolling in, it appears the upswing in Latinx voter turnout that political operatives were eyeing came to fruition — and Latinas likely led some of that charge.

Democrats entered Election Day hopeful that Texas had changed enough politically and demographically in recent years for Joe Biden to win the state’s 38 electoral votes and disrupt the national political landscape.

It didn’t turn out that way.

Republicans Maintain Majority On Texas Education Board

Nov 6, 2020

Democrats are gaining one seat on the Republican-dominated State Board of Education, while Republicans held on in the other races that Democrats had hoped to flip in the 2020 general election.

At a senior staff meeting one Thursday morning in May, with much of the Texas attorney general’s office working from home and morale seeming low, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton arrived at the Price Daniel Sr. State Office Building in downtown Austin with a surprise honor for a top deputy: a copy of "Scalia Speaks," the late conservative U.S. Supreme Court justice’s book.

Paxton had inscribed it with a congratulatory note for Blake Brickman, and presented it personally at the meeting of about 20 people.

Texas House Appears To Remain In Republican Control

Nov 4, 2020

It would be the biggest political shakeup in Texas in nearly two decades – snapping Republicans’ long control of the House, Senate and governor’s office. And it seemed like it might be within reach.

Democrats needed to hold the 12 seats they picked up in 2018 – and win nine more. They poured money into races around the state.

"Democrats gave it a really good try," Rice University political science professor Mark Jones said. "The difficulty is they’re still in a Republican state and a majority of the voters in many of these districts are still Republican-leaning."

John Cornyn is headed back to the U.S. Senate. He beat Democrat MJ Hegar by about 10 points. He thanked his family and said he’s committed to serving all Texans, whether or not they supported his re-election.

"My goal as your United States Senator is simple," Cornyn said. "Continue to make Texas a place of exceptional opportunity for all. In the next six years I look forward to our visits, our celebrations and working together to overcome whatever challenges comes our way."

As soon as Kamala Harris took the stage outside a bustling church here, she made her intentions for the audience clear.

“So listen, today is the last day of early voting in Texas and you all have been doing your thing,” she said after taking off the face mask she wore on stage, nodding to the state’s record-breaking early turnout so far this year and polls suggesting that the state is in play.

“Now we know this is no time to let up on the pedal though, right?”

There have been eight new polls of Texas likely voters released in the last five days — and on the presidential level, the results are decidedly mixed: Six show Donald Trump in the lead, and three have Joe Biden in front.

Kamala Harris’ trip to Texas on Friday will include three stops across the state, including in the Rio Grande Valley, according to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign.

Biden’s running mate is set to visit to Fort Worth, Houston and McAllen.

Texas has been home to several high-profile mass shootings over the past decade. And after each deadly event, like clockwork, there's a debate about the types of legislation that can be passed to prevent the next tragedy. But for some reason, the issue has hardly been spoken about during the 2020 election cycle.

Republicans in Texas are overwhelmingly behind President Trump’s reelection, as are statewide officials like Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton.

But a few past GOP leaders support Democrat Joe Biden, including former Congressmen Alan Steelman and Steve Bartlett.

Texas native Chuck Rocha knows a lot about how to reach Latino voters.

The former senior adviser for Bernie Sanders' 2020 campaign was pivotal in helping garner an unexpected amount of Latino support. That success has lead to him being seen within the political world as an expert in engaging Latino voters.

Voters are seeking as little human contact as possible for this risky election. But there’s a low-contact method that’s getting less publicity than mail-in ballots — curbside voting.

Right after early voting started in Dallas, the line in front of Fretz Park Library stretched hundreds of yards. Mask-wearing voters stood patiently waiting their turn.

But not everyone is able to stand. A car pulled up at a sign that reads “curbside voting.” Lisa Jackson was inside.

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