Texas Standard for January 5, 2022

As COVID-19 cases bring hospital intensive care units to capacity statewide, the Federal Emergency Management Agency now saying help is on the way. But will it be enough? Today, our conversation with Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley on the challenges his county faces during this latest spike in cases. And: Gov. Greg Abbott announces another lawsuit against the Biden administration, this time over vaccination mandates for Texas National Guard troops. Also: A New Year’s cold snap, a plunge in energy production and a huge release of pollutants – what an incident last weekend tells us about Texas’ energy industry and readiness for the next freeze. Those stories and much more today on the Texas Standard:

By Texas StandardJanuary 5, 2022 8:57 am,

How the COVID surge is hitting Tarrant County

With lines for COVID testing stretching for blocks in large Texas cities, Gov. Greg Abbott has requested federally supported COVID testing sites in six of the state’s large counties. Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley, who oversees one of those six counties, joins us to talk about how Tarrant County is experiencing the latest surge.

Texas sues feds over troops’ vaccine mandate

Despite the latest COVID surge, Texas is again suing the Biden administration over a vaccine mandate. At issue now is the requirement that all troops get vaccinated, including National Guard troops. Rose Thayer, Austin-based reporter for the military publication Stars and Stripes, joins with the latest.

Midland’s only hospital readies for COVID surge

Health officials are all but certain the omicron variant of the coronavirus has arrived in the Permian Basin. Positivity rates have skyrocketed in Midland in recent weeks and the community’s only hospital is seeing an increase in patients with COVID-19. As Marfa Public Radio’s Mitch Borden reports, health care leaders are making preparations for a potential surge as they continue to face staffing shortages.

Cold snap tests Texas grid

Texas energy infrastructure just faced its first cold weather test since last year’s deadly winter storm. How did it fare? Bloomberg reports that despite repeated calls for better winterization of the state power grid, pollution was up and gas production was down. Sergio Chapa, energy reporter for Bloomberg News, joins us with more.

December saw record-breaking temperatures

The numbers are in, and last month will go down as the warmest December on record since 1889 – and possibly the warmest winter month in Texas ever. John Nielsen-Gammon, professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University and state climatologist, joins to talk about it.

Better know a bug: Walkingstick insects

Wizzie Brown is a program specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and our go-to insect expert. She waxes about phasmids today.

Shocking developments along the San Antonio River

River biologists hope to see a return of freshwater mussels to the San Antonio River. The way they’re trying to get them to return is shocking – literally. Dominic Anthony Walsh plumbs the currents for Texas Public Radio.

No, vaccines are not why flights have been canceled

A viral post making the rounds on social media says that covid vaccines are why flights have been delayed and cancelled worldwide. Is that a fact? (Spoiler alert: it isn’t!) Nusaiba Mizan with PolitiFact Texas, based at the Austin American-Statesman, joins with more.

All this, plus the Texas Newsroom’s state roundup and Wells Dunbar with the Talk of Texas.

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