Texas News

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.

This is a developing story and will be updated as we learn new information. Details are gathered from federal court documents and research from the George Washington University Program on Extremism.

Updated March 31, 8:37 a.m. CT

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.

O'Rourke Slams Cruz For Attending Inauguration

Jan 18, 2021

The office of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz has confirmed the Texas Republican plans to attend the inauguration of President Elect Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris this week in Washington D.C.

Cruz's 2018 democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke tweeted that he doesn't think Cruz should be invited after what O'Rourke called sedition and incitement of violent insurrectionists at the nation's Capitol earlier this month. O'Rourke also said Cruz's actions should result in him being expelled from the Senate.

From Texas Standard:

In this first week of the 2021 Texas legislative session, lawmakers weighed in on some practical matters like how to vote remotely during the pandemic and picking the new House speaker. But members of the Texas Senate also voted to change a rule to give Republicans an advantage.

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.

Voting groups say redistricting plans the Texas Senate laid out in a resolution passed Wednesday do not reasonably accommodate public input.

The resolution says lawmakers "shall give public notice at least 72 hours in advance of a meeting for a regional hearing during the regular session or in the interim between sessions, and 48 hours in advance during a called session." Voting advocates say that is not enough of a heads up.

The Texas legislature kicked off a new session on Tuesday, a mere six days after a violent mob breached the U.S. capitol. What the 87th legislative session lacked in action on the floor, it made up for with a large police presence.

More than a hundred state troopers in full tactical gear stood outside the entrances. Some officers monitored the capital grounds, and many more roamed inside.

Less than a week after pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol, San Antonio Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said the day was much more somber than usual.

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?

The chairman of the Republican Party of Texas is asking Republican legislators to ignore “fairness” in the next round of legislative redistricting this year, adding to the state’s history of gerrymandering.

“They must realize this strategic opportunity and not concern themselves with ‘fairness’ to the progressive socialist left,” said Allen West, in an email to supporters Monday.

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.

A group of state lawmakers wants major changes to the plan for distributing COVID-19 vaccines in Texas, including changing the order of priority for who can get the vaccine.

This comes after more than a week of confusion and frustration among Texans who are unsure if they qualify to get the vaccine — and if they do, where they’re supposed to get it.

Prominent Texas Republicans criticized the actions of a pro-Trump extremist mob at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C.

Sen. Ted Cruz and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have been at the forefront of conspiracy theories and court cases around the results of the 2020 presidential election. On Tuesday, Paxton spoke at a Trump rally in D.C. that preceded the insurrection.

From Texas Standard:

CBD products have given many people the promise of a natural way of coping with stress and anxiety, especially during the pandemic. But recent actions by the Federal Trade Commission suggest that the health claims made by some CBD companies are dubious.

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.

Chris Bennett spent much of Tuesday afternoon on the phone trying to find a vaccine provider for his parents and himself.

“I called H-E-B. I called St. David’s. I called Seton. And I called Austin Regional Clinic,” he said.

Each one told him that he and his parents couldn’t get a vaccine from them.

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.

Lee esta historia en español.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) is suing ExxonMobil for employment discrimination.

The group alleges the Texas-based oil giant denied Aldo De Leon a job because of his immigration status. De Leon is a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), authorizing him to work in the U.S.

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:

Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene is overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. As Hendrick Health chief medical officer Rob Wiley explained, the intensive care unit has been over capacity for weeks.

“So right now, we are presently staying over probably 130% capacity every day,” he said. “And we've been that way for a very long period of time — for over a month.”

That means there are more patients requiring intensive care than the total number of staffed beds. Hendrick Medical Center and other hospitals have been forced to activate surge capacity.

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.

Read this story in Spanish

Hospitals in Central Texas began vaccinating their staff against COVID-19 last week. For many, the vaccine represents an end in sight to what has been a grueling year for frontline health care workers. But it also comes as the state is experiencing a surge in cases.

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.

Lee esta historia en español.

Thousands of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are currently being distributed throughout the state, Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday.

During a news conference at a UPS center in Austin, Abbott said Texas has already delivered 95,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. He said an additional 129,000 doses will be distributed on Thursday alone.

As COVID-19 continues to spread out of control in Texas, medical laboratory professionals are facing burnout and exhaustion.

In the U.S., these workers have performed approximately 213 million COVID-19 tests alone so far. On average, they perform about 13 billion medical tests a year, and there are only about 300,000 medical lab professionals in the U.S.

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.

Hospitals across Texas are struggling under the weight of the state’s worst COVID-19 surge yet. And the situation is likely to get worse.

Since the beginning of December, the state has set records for the first, second and third highest number of daily cases ever. Confirmed cases typically precede hospitalizations by up to a week. As of Sunday, there were nearly 9,200 Texans hospitalized — the most since July.

From Texas Standard:

With the Texas Legislature set to open its 2021 session in January at the Capitol, questions remain about how the body will address COVID-19. Legislators, staffers, citizens, the press and advocates all descend on the building every two years, making social distancing and other pandemic precautions a matter of concern.

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.

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