Texas Standard For August 6, 2021

As the delta variant spreads rapidly nationwide, what’s the big picture looking like for Texas? A new model provides some answers. And: An increase in migrants and asylum seekers reaching a tipping point in McAllen as city leaders begin building shelters, calling it a matter of public safety. We’ll hear more. Also: The new official Texas state fungi? No, it’s not some guy named McConaughey, we’re talking mushrooms- and a whole lot more.

By Texas StandardAugust 6, 2021 9:43 am

Here are the stories on Texas Standard for Friday, August 6, 2021.

COVID Projections August 2021

Forecasts predicting the upswing in COVID infections by the UT Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium appear troubling. Spencer Fox, associate director of the UT Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium talks about those forecasts with the Standard.

McAllen Migrants And COVID 

The City of McAllen has announced it is building temporary shelters to house the increase in migrants who had tested positive for COVID-19. Previously, Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley would pay for housing in a hotel for migrants who tested positive but the surge in migrants at the border has outpaced that capacity. Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley talks to the Standard.

PUF College Funding

The University of Texas’ planned exit from the Big 12 to join the SEC has state lawmakers calling once again for reform to the cushy funding scheme both UT and Texas A&M University have enjoyed since the 1880s, thanks to oil and gas leases. As lawmakers take a closer look at the impact UT’s departure from the football conference will have on universities left in the Big 12, they’re wondering if it’s time for the PUF to fund other schools. Texas Tech Public Media’s Sarah Self-Walbrick reports that some legislators say it’s time for that conversation.

The Grid and Consumers

When the state’s power grid nearly collapsed last winter, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was quick to go after hotels that tripled their prices. But state leaders are not as quick to defend consumers when it comes to natural gas companies that made $3.6 billion in natural gas price spikes during February’s massive power outages. A scathing Houston Chronicle editorial this week asks a question on the minds of a lot of Texans: Why isn’t the state going after the industry for passing along these exorbitant costs to electricity customers? Lisa Falkenberg, editor of the Houston Chronicle’s opinion section talks to the Standard.

Texas State Fungus

Somehow, the state of Texas has not run out of things to designate an official state symbol. We’ve got a state bird, tree and flower like everyone else. But there’s also an official Texas state chili pepper, a state molecule, and three types of state mammal — small, large, and flying. And now, there’s a state mushroom. For more, the Standard talks to San Antonio Express-News writer Camille Sauers.

Hospital Vax Mandates

More hospitals across Texas — and across the country — are mandating COVID-19 vaccines for their employees. As Houston Public Media’s Paul DeBenedetto explains, it was a Houston court battle that paved the way for these mandates.

The Social Emotional Return to School

Millions of Texas children are heading back to in-person classes over the next few weeks. For many, it’s the first time they’ll set foot in classrooms after learning from home for more than a year because of the pandemic. For more on how to handle the transition from a social and emotional perspective, the Standard turns to Carleton Brown, a certified school counselor and an assistant professor in the Educational Psychology and Special Services department at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Typewriter Rodeo

The Week in Politics with The Texas Tribune

It’s Friday and that means a look back at the week in Texas politics with Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey. Topics include the ending of the first special session and the agenda of the upcoming second one and whether House Democrats plan to sit this one out too.

All this and Texas News Roundup, plus Social Media Editor Wells Dunbar with the talk of Texas.

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