Texas Newsroom

The Austin native will take the helm of The Texas Newsroom, a public radio journalism collaboration that includes NPR, KERA in North Texas, Houston Public Media, KUT in Austin, Texas Public Radio in San Antonio and other stations across the state.

Corrie MacLaggan, managing editor of the pioneering digital news site The Texas Tribune, will become the new statewide managing editor for the public radio stations of The Texas Newsroom.

Texans React To Gov. Abbott's Lifting Of COVID-19 Restrictions

Mar 3, 2021

Reactions to Gov. Abbott's lifting of COVID-19 restrictions have been mixed. Some Texans are calling it a mistake, while others are saying it's a positive step forward.

The change will go into effect next week on Wednesday, March 10. Abbott said he's hopeful vaccine distribution will accelerate. So far, The Texas Tribune reports less than 7% of Texans have been fully vaccinated.

According to a new report from Save the Children looking at data from the last four months of 2020, only two states – Mississippi and Louisiana – scored worse than Texas for ensuring children are adequately fed, equipped with the tools to learn remotely, and growing up in a financially stable home.

Texas grocery store shelves have begun filling out again. But for the state’s agriculture industry, recovering from the winter storm will take time, and consumers are likely to feel it in their pockets.

The historic freeze and power outages brought agriculture across the state to a halt. Dairy farmers were forced to dump gallons of unpasteurized milk for days as processing plants were left without power. Packing houses also shut down with machinery cut off from electricity and employees unable to make their shifts, said Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.

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.

Lee esta historia en español.

State lawmakers on Thursday are holding the first of what will likely be many hearings in response to the blackouts that gripped Texas last week. One question they'll be asking: How can we keep this from happening again?

Here are the options they're likely to consider.

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.

Texas Agency Bans Utility Cutoffs For Failure To Pay

Feb 22, 2021

The Public Utility Commission of Texas has implemented a ban on utility cutoffs for consumers who don’t pay their bills. The move does not apply to cooperatives or to municipality-owned utilities like CPS in San Antonio or Austin Energy.

Commission chair DeAnn Walker introduced the order during a Sunday afternoon emergency meeting. She explained that the commission met on Sunday — when disconnections aren’t allowed — to ensure that no consumer cutoffs begin on Monday.

This story includes violent language that may offend some readers.

In an arrest affidavit submitted on Jan. 16, the Federal Bureau of Investigation described This Is Texas Freedom Force as “an extremist militia group.”

The new label from one of the United States’ primary federal law enforcement agencies came 10 days after the storming of the U.S. Capitol.

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

A group of Republicans has launched a national campaign targeting Republican Senator Ted Cruz and others who they say need to be held accountable for the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building.

The group, called the Republican Accountability Project, is made up of leaders of Republican organizations and some former Trump administration staffers.

They've purchased billboards in cities across the country.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday voided rulings from lower courts that upheld a ban on most abortions in Texas early in the coronavirus pandemic.

Victor Arcos spent four months inside of a Houston immigration detention facility, where he said he routinely saw examples of medical neglect.

Arcos said he remembers a fellow detainee complaining about a bullet lodged close to his spine, who was denied treatment. He also watched his own kidney disease deteriorate from stage one to stage three because of what he said was a lack of treatment.

“There's a lot of stuff (nurses) get away with,” he said, “There's nothing you can do. You're a convict. You're a prisoner. You're nobody when you're inside.”

Hidalgo County Health Authority Ivan Melendez says coming into COVID-19 units nowadays feels like going through a nonlinear version of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

“You cry,” he told the Tribune. “There’s a lady that I’m taking care of that I’ve known since I was a child. … We grew up together, and I know she’s going to die. … It’s the same thing: ‘We got together for Christmas.’ Now we’re seeing the ramification of it.”

Yira Aldape said she “woke up with a little pep” in her step Wednesday morning. Tricia Cortez said it was “a party” in her house. Juanita Valdez-Cox breathed “a sigh of relief” as she watched President Joe Biden take the oath. But Marianna Treviño-Wright said she was “not yet celebrating.”

On a recent day, the parking lot at Pasquotank High School in Elizabeth City, N.C. was transformed into a kind of vaccine freeway, with four lanes of cars bearing drivers and passengers getting COVID-19 inoculations.

And several of those administering the shots were in camouflage.

President-elect Joe Biden says he's going to activate National Guard troops to help with the nation's lagging COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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