Texas Public Radio

In Bergheim, Texas, just north of San Antonio, there’s a skunky smell in the air.   

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.

While debate about how to safely reopen public schools in Texas raged through the summer, Kim Olstrup was preparing to bring students back to her Midcities Montessori private school in Bedford. She bought an electrostatic disinfection device similar to one used on airplanes and halved enrollment from about 130 students to about 60 to accommodate social distancing in her classrooms.

With few signs the coronavirus is fading, election officials face an increasingly urgent question: how to accommodate voters who become infected in the days leading up to the election.

In Texas — a state that fought expanding mail-in ballot access all the way up to the Supreme Court — COVID-19 positive voters can be put in the position of choosing between their right to vote and the public's health.

Gov. Greg Abbott is setting the record straight as to who has the final say on when schools can reopen this fall. The power will lie in the hands of local school officials, not public health authorities.


Customs and Border Protection

As of late July, there were more than 9,500 patients with COVID-19 in Texas hospitals — and more than 6,000 had died. Medical teams from the Army and Navy have deployed to help hospitals under stress. 


President Donald Trump met with the family of slain Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen at the White House on Thursday. They shared their grief and expressed their hopes that the military system that failed their daughter and other women will be improved.

According to guidelines issued last week by the Texas Education Agency, students will be able to return to campus for in-person instruction or continue learning remotely in the fall.


The Latinx vote gets a lot of attention in an election year. Many groups worked against the odds to organize the vote, including the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the Mexican American Youth Organization.

UTSA Libraries Special Collections is working to preserve the origins and history of another important voting rights organization: the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project.


The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped the Trump administration’s push for a border wall in South Texas. But it also didn’t stop residents of Webb and Zapata counties from protesting against the efforts.

This post has been updated. It was originally published on Sunday, July 5, at 2:55 p.m.

A federal judge in Los Angeles ruled that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has until mid-July to release migrant children in family detention centers, citing COVID-19 concerns at these facilities.

In the last two weeks, some Texas counties implemented new face mask orders and Gov. Greg Abbott ordered all bars to shut down — before eventually issuing his own statewide mask order.

Those actions might have been too little, too late. They might not be enough to flatten the rapidly rising curve.  


The U.S. Army said a male suspect is dead and a woman has been charged after the disappearance of a soldier from Fort Hood, Texas.

The state Republican Party Thursday night voted to hold an in-person convention in Houston, despite concerns over COVID-19.

The sun rose over the Chihuahuan desert one June morning, and in Presidio it rose to about 200 cars waiting in line. 

The oil and gas industry has become more active in the Permian Basin in recent years, and west Texas residents have complained of noxious smells and increased air pollution. In response, The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality launched two air monitoring surveys in December and February, and the results are now public.

This post was updated on Monday, June 29, at 6:05 p.m.
 

Dennis Bonnen, a conservative Republican and Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, is urging “so-called patriots” to wear facial coverings to prevent transmission of the highly contagious novel coronavirus and its disease COVID-19.


The South Texas Veterans Healthcare System is trying to avoid a broad shutdown as the COVID-19 pandemic waxes and wanes.

With the advent of the novel coronavirus in March, the South Texas VA — along with other VA facilities around the country — postponed many face-to-face appointments to prevent the virus from spreading.

Officials with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission are suspending alcohol permits of bars and restaurants not following COVID-19 protocols.

With the call for changing the names of 10 Southern military bases gaining momentum in Washington, the question is starting to arise in Washington — and outside of it — of what names might replace those of the Confederate generals they now bear.


The South Texas Veterans Healthcare System is putting a pause on reopening after a surge of patients sought treatment for COVID-19.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak in Texas, healthcare workers have expressed concerns about the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE). Local governments have scrambled to put together contact tracing teams. Five years ago, one state senator tried to plan for a situation like the pandemic happening now.


More than 600,000 undocumented immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program —or DACA — received some good news this week.

The Supreme Court upheld the Obama administration program that allows children who were brought to the US illegally to live and work in the country. 

They are often referred to as “Dreamers,” and there are more than 100,000 of them in Texas. 

U.S. borders will be closed to all but essential travel for another month.

The federal government reached an agreement Tuesday with Mexico and Canada to extend the border closure that has been in effect since the end of March.

During that time, local businesses along the Southern border have been suffering.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and the mayors of other major Texas cities are asking the governor to allow them to enact and enforce public health emergency declarations that require the use of face masks.

Detainees at the Port Isabel Detention Center in the Rio Grande Valley have been concerned about a potential COVID-19 outbreak at the facility for months, as the novel coronavirus continues to spread in Immigrant and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities across the country.


Criminal indictments were announced against four executives at two of the largest poultry processing companies in the country last week. Friday, Jayson Penn the CEO of Pilgrim's Pride pleaded not guilty to the price-fixing charges. The same day the Justice Department issued subpoenas against the four largest beef processing and meat packing outfits.

U.S. trade with Mexico fell by over 40% this April compared to last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Laredo, the top trading port between the U.S. and Mexico, is hoping for a successful rebound.

April imports from Mexico staggered to $15.8 billion, the lowest since August 2009. Meanwhile, exports to Mexico were the lowest since February 2010. 

Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday he will extend the early voting period for an unspecified amount of time during the November election as concerns continue to persist around in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Dairon Elisondo Rojas is walking around a new 20-bed tented hospital at the south end of a migrant camp in Matamoros, Mexico.

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