Texas Standard For August 9, 2021

With the delta COVID variant spreading and a gubernatorial mask mandate in place, what are local officials to do? Some say mandate masks anyway. And: What parents are thinking about a return to school. Vaccine mandates at the federal level, why enforcing them is proving to be a challenge. The great bitcoin migration from China and why many miners are coming to Texas to dig for virtual gold. Also: Growing up in the Lone Star State – two authors look for a common thread that binds some of the best known figures of modern Texas history. Those stories and a whole lot more.

By Texas StandardAugust 9, 2021 9:30 am

Here are the stories on Texas Standard for Monday, August 9, 2021.

Local Challenges to Mask Order

The governor has been clear about his ban on mask mandates. But more local governments are putting them in place, anyway, as cases of COVID-19 rise yet again. Dallas Morning News reporter Allie Morris has been following the story from Austin and talks to the Standard.

VA Vaccine Mandates

President Biden has ordered workers at most federal agencies to either get a COVID-19 vaccine, or submit to weekly testing. But one agency has gone further. The Department of Veterans Affairs says its frontline health workers must get vaccinated by mid-September or they’ll lose their jobs. But enforcing the mandate – and reaching hesitant employees – is proving to be a challenge. Texas Public Radio’s Carson Frame reports for the American Homefront Project.

 Houston Electricity

The winter freeze that killed more than 200 people gave many Texans a glimpse into how complicated the state’s electricity system is. Nearly six months later, many people are still figuring out what actually failed during the storm. Houston Public Media Energy Reporter Kyra Buckley has this quick primer on where our power actually comes from and what went wrong last winter.

Natural Gas Rally

Last week, Bloomberg proclaimed that quote – “The era of cheap natural gas is over.” Natural gas prices rallied last week, hitting multi-year highs. So what’s influencing natural gas prices right now? Think taxes, tropical storms and temperatures, says Matt Smith, director of commodity research for ClipperData.

Bitcoin to Dickens County

As bitcoin operations in China are shutting down, bitcoin miners have their eyes on Texas. Bitcoin mining is very energy intensive and China is trying to reduce its use of fossil fuels. Last year, the central Texas town of Rockdale became home to the world’s largest bitcoin mine but today we turn our attention to Dickens County, east of Lubbock, where a new bitcoin mine just broke ground earlier this month. Dickens County Judge Kevin Brendle talks to the Standard.

Growing Up in the Lone Star State

Some of the best conversations one can have with a friend are conversations about their childhood. There’s always something new to discover about someone Were they picky eaters? What was their favorite toy? If they ever got in trouble, how were they punished? “Growing Up in the Lone Star State: Notable Texans Remember Their Childhoods” is a book that leaves the reader with that sense of pleasure. Texas Standard talks to the two authors: journalists Gaylon Finklea Hecker and Marianne Odom.

Back To School Listener Thoughts

This school year is not going to be like any other, not even like last year, when we said the same thing. It can be a scary time to send a child back to school. Cases of COVID-19  are climbing fast in Texas. The delta variant is forcing us to rethink what we thought we knew about kids’ susceptibility to the virus. And some parents and educators feel hamstrung by the state’s ban on mask mandates in public places. We asked listeners to tell us what was on their minds going into such an unusual academic year. Here are some of the responses.

All this and Texas News Roundup, plus Michael Marks with the talk of Texas.

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