Texas

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:

When Julieta Hernandez began hearing the first rumblings about a COVID-19 vaccine soon arriving in Texas, the Rockport writer and bartender had no doubts that she would get her shot when her time came.

And then she sat down to breakfast with her vegetarian parents, lifelong believers in homeopathic treatments with a deep skepticism for vaccines and mistrust in the government.

“You’re not planning on getting that, are you?” they asked her.

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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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.

A Texas corporate executive has been sentenced by a federal jury to 20 years in prison for running a scheme in which people with long-term illnesses were falsely told they would die soon, and then enrolled them in hospice programs.

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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.

Updated at 5:53 p.m. ET

Editor's note: This is a story about the pervasive nature of racial insensitivity in America and how it persists to this day, and contains terms some might find offensive.

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.

From Texas Standard:

Texas is ready to distribute 100,000 vaccine doses as soon as Pfizer-BioNTech gets the go-ahead from the Food and Drug Administration. And some of the first people in line will be Texas nursing home residents.

From Texas Standard:

On Tuesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court against four battleground states, alleging they made unconstitutional changes to their voting laws before the 2020 election.

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.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing four battleground states — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — whose election results handed the White House to president-elect Joe Biden.

From Texas Standard:

Texans are hardly rookies when it comes to the back-and-forth between local government officials and Austin. They’ve seen it countless times during weather emergencies or the legislative session.

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from deportation.

An oil storage tank exploded near the refineries on the northwest side of Corpus Christi on Saturday, injuring at least seven people, city and Nueces County officials reported.

The explosion site was at the Magellan Midstream storage tank facility in the 1800 block of Poth, north of Interstate 37 and south of Nueces Bay, near the turning basins for tankers and other ships that enter the industrial port channel.

Among the seven injured, two people have since been released from the hospital and the remaining five are in stable condition.

Food banks across Texas are projecting food shortages in coming months due to the end of three key federal and state programs that have helped them respond to high demand during the coronavirus pandemic and its accompanying recession.

The risk of wildfires will be higher than normal through the winter in much of Texas. It's yet another effect of the drought that continues to worsen in much of the state, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

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 received $11.2 billion in CARES Act funding to cope with bills run up in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

But there's a catch: it has to spend everything by the end of the year.

Anything left over goes back to the federal treasury. And many state lawmakers and county officials are complaining that Gov. Greg Abbott has been less than transparent as to how his administration is spending the money.

After initially saying he didn't do anything wrong, Steve Adler, the mayor of Austin, Texas, says he now realizes he "set a bad example" by traveling to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, for vacation last month.

From Texas Standard:

As new cases of coronavirus soar in Texas, the White House Coronavirus Task Force is calling on state officials to do more to stem the spread.

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.

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