Texas Standard For April 19, 2021

A warning of a hotter than average summer sends shudders as lawmakers try to avoid a repeat of winter power outages in Texas. Lawmakers shift gears as they try to come up with a fix for increased power demand and limited supply. And: The full extent of how COVID-19 affected nursing home residents in Texas has been unknown, until now. A member of the Texas Tribune reporting team on the findings. Also: Have you had to pay out of pocket to get a COVID-19 shot? Some Texans have, although it’s supposed to be free-of-charge. Plus: A proposal for the national parks – return them to native peoples. And making the case for no more borders. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

By Texas StandardApril 19, 2021 9:48 am

Here are the stories on Texas Standard for Monday, April 19, 2021.

Proposed Energy Efficiency Law

We’re getting an ominous assessment from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that 2021 is likely to rank among the 10 warmest years on record globally, and the forecast for Texas points to a hotter and drier summer than normal this year. This raises the possibility that just months after a winter storm leaving Texans statewide without power, the state’s residents could be plunged into darkness again due to high demand for air conditioning. A bill in the Texas Senate would have helped reduce energy demand in shortage situations, but as Texas Public Radio’s Dominic Anthony Walsh reports, it’s been swapped out for a new plan.

COVID Nursing Home Deaths

Until now, the full extent of how COVID-19 impacted nursing home residents in Texas has been unknown. Last week, The Texas Tribune lifted the curtain on how the state’s 1,200 nursing homes are scrambled to keep the virus from invading the facilities and infecting their 90,000 residents. But despite their efforts, one out of five COVID-19 deaths reported in Texas between April of last year and this month, were of nursing home patients. That’s a total of nearly 9,000 Texans in nursing homes who died, about 175 a week. Here to talk about the findings is one of the co-authors of reporting. Carla Astudillo is a news app and data visuals developer for The Texas Tribune.

Paying for Vaccines 

Operation Warp Speed, the federal program to get COVID-19 vaccine shots out of the lab and into arms in under a year came with a nearly $2 billion price tag. Federal guidelines for vaccine distribution state that no one in the United States will have to pay out of pocket to get a vaccine. Still, some folks in West Texas said they’re getting charged nonetheless.

Returning National Parks

The national parks of the United States are often praised as crown jewels. Maintained for the enjoyment of all — and in the case of Big Bend — getting more use than ever thanks to the benefits of outdoor recreation during the pandemic. This is the narrative many of us know. But the cover story of the latest edition of The Atlantic challenges some of those assumptions. Its title is this – “Return the National Parks to the Tribes: The Jewels Of America’s Landscape Should Belong To America’s Original Peoples.” It’s written by David Treuer who grew up on the Ojibwe Leech Lake reservation in northern Minnesota and talks to the Standard.

Bulls Bears and Wildcards

More than half of adults in the United States have received at least one vaccination dose, and about 30% are fully vaccinated. Though that’s far from the 70-90% percent needed to reach herd immunity. Still, a normal summer is looking more and more likely.But a return to normalcy is far from a certainty for the energy industry which is still contending with a global economy that was turned on its head over the past year. Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData, talks about the energy outlook.

Build Bridges, Not Walls

You find someone stranded in the desert. Would you think twice before helping them? Todd Miller found himself in that exact situation, he hesitated and he’s been covering this region for almost two decades. Miller is a freelance reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere. It’s that moment of pause that lays the groundwork for his new book “Build Bridges, Not Walls: A Journey to a World Without Borders.”

Drug Cartels Being Named Terrorist Organizations

Gov. Greg Abbott and some Texas Republicans in Congress are calling on the Biden administration to designate Mexican cartels as foreign terrorist organizations. They say the designation would provide much needed tools to address the current humanitarian crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border. It’s a crisis American officials blame cartels in large part of creating. But is designating cartels as foreign terrorist organizations really a good idea? Gary Hale, the nonresident fellow in drug policy and Mexico studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute in Houston, talks to the Standard.

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

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