Texas Standard For January 5, 2021

Even as more Texans get vaccinated, hospital beds fill with COVID-19 patients and Texas may be approaching a critical tipping point. COVID-19 patients now occupy one in five hospital beds in Texas, and many ICUs statewide are at their limits. The state of the state of care and what health officials fear may come next. And: Many Texans are eligible for vaccination, but can’t find anyone to administer the vaccine. Also: Asylum seekers south of the Texas border hoping for change from the Biden administration. Plus: What that change at the White House might mean when it comes to Texas and the courts. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

By Texas StandardJanuary 5, 2021 9:30 am

Here’s what’s coming up on Texas Standard for Tuesday, January 5, 2021. Listen on your Texas public radio station, or ask your smart speaker to play Texas Standard. We’ll have full posts for each story, including audio, a little later today.

Texas COVID Hospitalizations 

The Texas Department of State Health Services divides the state into 22 trauma service areas. Many businesses in those areas have to reduce their capacity limits by half if 15% or more of total hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients for seven consecutive days. As cases spike, Dr. Diana Cervantes, an assistant professor at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth talks to the Standard about the latest hospitalization numbers.

Vaccine Distribution Problems        

Texas officials expanded the number of people eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine just before the new year. Last week, Texans 65 and over and those with underlying medical conditions were allowed to get the shot – at least, in theory. As KUT Austin’s Matt Largey reports, what was good news for many at-risk people quickly turned into confusion and frustration.

Austin Won’t Become Silicon Valley 2.0

Austin’s already the least affordable city in Texas. Now with two tech titans moving to the Texas capital (Oracle and Tesla) there’s more worry about higher rents and house prices. Can Austin avoid some of the economic missteps contributing to the “Texodus” from the West Coast? Michael Agresta is a writer-at-large for the Texas Monthly. His latest article tackles some of the pros and cons of more big tech making its way to the capital city.

 Asylum Seekers Hope for Change in 2021

Asylum seekers stuck in shelters and camps across Mexico are holding out hope a new year and a new administration will bring an end to their ordeal. Under the Trump administration policy known as “Remain in Mexico,” they’ve had to wait in Mexico while their cases play out in U.S. immigration court. About 23,000 people are currently waiting, according to a recent report from Human Rights First. KERA’s Mallory Falk has been following one family in Ciudad Juarez, just across the border from El Paso.

 Ellis County Courthouse Controversy 

A segregation-era historical sign in the basement of the Ellis County courthouse has taken an unusual twist following an act of vandalism. Ellis County Judge Todd Little is a suspect along with another man in the defacement of the sign, which says “negroes,” according to court records. Kevin Krause has been following this story for the Dallas Morning News and talks to the Standard.

The Sounds of Texas: Bryan Kelly on Prison Entrepreneurship Program

 Avrel Seale Profile

Avrel Seale’s life changed dramatically with a stroke, forcing the semi-professional musician and published author to relearn everything, even how to play the guitar. His journey is the subject of a published memoir “With One Hand Tied Behind My Brain: A Memoir of Life after Stroke.” Texas Public Radio’s Jack Morgan picks up the story.

Ken Paxton Profile

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the city of Austin over one of its COVID-19 policies. He’s pursued many controversial lawsuits since taking office in 2015, and not just inside Texas. Paxton has targeted some federal policies as well. As KERA’s Bret Jaspers reports, that’s likely to continue during a President Biden administration.

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

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