COVID-19

Meet Emma, the AI assistant answering the phones at Amarillo City Hall

Just in time for high summer, a surge in COVID cases? What officials are saying about a new subvariant.
It could be a very wet 72 hours of so for much of Southeast Texas and beyond as meteorologists focus on what could be the first big storm of hurricane season coming together in the Gulf of Mexico.
In Amarillo, phones at City Hall are answered by Emma – a first-of-its-kind virtual assistant powered by AI, built specifically for the city.
Why some analysts are pumping the brakes on predictions of a looming oil glut thanks to electric vehicles.
And: why some Texas Democrats say schools could be key to their success in November.

How big events like the pandemic lockdowns can warp our sense of time

Attorney General Ken Paxton’s effort to get business records from Annunciation House, a group that helps migrants, is blocked by an El Paso judge.
As firefighters move closer to containing the blazes that have consumed large parts of the Panhandle in recent weeks, many locals are looking more closely at the causes and asking hard questions about why more wasn’t done to prevent those fires.
As politicians bicker over federal funding, members of the military and their families struggle with worries and fears amid a near-constant threat of a government shutdown.
And: Anyone else feeling a post-COVID time warp? What the science says about perceptions of time.

How frontline workers fared during COVID and how best to protect them

A Texas senator wants to reopen impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Ken Paxton – but it’s unlikely to happen.

What have recent heavy rains done for drought conditions in Texas?

A plan to overhaul the way the U.S. Census Bureau counts people with disabilities has received so much pushback that the agency is rethinking the updated questions.

And: lessons learned from the pandemic about the impact on frontline workers.

KUT Afternoon Newscast for January 29, 2024

Central Texas top stories for January 29, 2024. A lawsuit was filed attempting to block the I-35 expansion in Austin. Sunday was a record breaking solar power day. The City of Austin plans to set up a fund to help people who are experiencing homelessness. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is facing questions about undisclosed properties worth millions. The Texas State Board of Education delayed a vote on a Native American Studies course. Flu rates are climbing as COVID rates fall. Longhorns Basketball.

KUT Afternoon Newscast for January 18, 2024

Central Texas top stories for January 18, 2024. A federal appeals court struck down part of a state law restricting books available in school libraries. Austin is looking to expand the budget to help crime victims with immediate needs. The Austin Council voted today to give eligible child care providers a 100-percent property tax exemption. Winter respiratory viruses and COVID-19. Capital Metro security guards. Current state of drought in Central Texas.

Residents fight proposed Brazoria County primate facility

Is artificial intelligence coming soon to Texas government? A new report says it’s already here.

More than 300,000 immigrants arrived at the southern border in December. Angela Kocherga of KTEP takes a look at one of the busiest border crossing areas year-round: the El Paso sector.

Volunteer pilots are helping abortion-seekers get out of Texas.
A biomedical company wants to build a massive facility for primates in Brazoria County. But locals are fighting back.

And: remembering the music and legacy of Rocky Morales.

The best of the year in science & nature

Science and nature are in the spotlight today.

While the worst of COVID-19 appears to be history, scientists and researchers continue to draw lessons about what happened and how well-prepared we might be for the next pandemic.

How a Texan is trying to help answer questions about science in a new podcast aimed at non-scientists curious about the world around us.

Girl Scouts take a deep dive on science – quite literally – with the help of scuba gear.

And our conversation with an astronaut picked for our next return to the moon.

The State of Disability in Texas – A Texas Standard special rebroadcast

It’s a population that’s often overlooked and underestimated: People living with disabilities play a wide variety of important roles in the life of modern Texas.

They’re living full lives, advocating for better caregiving options, inclusive transportation and voting accessibility. And many participate in the vibrant arts and culture of our state.

Learn more in this special edition of the Texas Standard: The State of Disability in Texas.

Legislature takes up ban on vaccine mandates at private businesses

Years after peak COVID, Texas lawmakers are taking steps to ban vaccine mandates by private businesses.

Amid a nursing shortage in Texas and beyond, the journey of a new nurse trying to make a difference.

An award-winning novel set near the border takes the western genre to a whole new place. We’ll talk with ‘Valley of Shadows’ author Rudy Ruiz.

Also: As a new NBA season approaches, there are big expectations building for the San Antonio Spurs’ 19-year old Victor Wembanyama.

How a UT professor is helping the CDC plan for the next pandemic

The Texas Education Agency is moving forward with plans to monitor problems with Austin ISD’s special education services.

What did we learn from COVID-19? We’ll talk to UT’s Lauren Ancel Meyers, who has been tapped to help the U.S. develop a plan to better tackle the next pandemic.

Texas tops the nation in oil industry deaths – but there’s more to the story once you get into the numbers.

Also: Remembering a pioneer of Tejano music, Lydia Mendoza, who earned the title of “Meadowlark of the Border.”

Dungeons & Dragons becomes lifeline for some Texas death row prisoners

When it comes the electric grid, every megawatt counts during peak demand. Industrial batteries have long been seen as a potential game-changer for energy storage. We’ll have details about how they’re coming online in the Lone Star State.

A new vaccine for COVID-19 will be in pharmacies soon. An epidemiologist lays out what you and your family needs to know.

Plus, Dungeons & Dragons on death row, the latest headlines, and a school finance revolt in North Texas.

The State of Disability in Texas – A Texas Standard special

How does disability impact millions of Texans, from public policy to long COVID?

People living with disabilities – a population that’s often overlooked and underestimated – play a wide variety of important roles in the life of modern Texas. They’re living full lives: advocating for better caregiving options, inclusive transportation and voting accessibility. And many participate in the vibrant arts and culture of our state.

Encompassing the wide array of these experiences in just one program would be impossible. That’s why we’re treating this special as a kickoff of Texas Standard’s yearlong commitment to featuring the voices of and covering the topics important to disabled Texans.

Tours from Beyoncé and Taylor Swift are big for local economies

COVID cases in Texas rise by almost 25% in a week as concerns mount over a new variant. Although the vast majority of Texans have given up masks and social distancing, health officials say they’re still important tools as cases pick up and students return to the classroom. Dr. Catherine Troisi of UTHealth Houston joins us with an update.

Young plaintiffs in Montana score a high-profile victory in a fight to force their home state to take climate change more seriously. Could a similar approach work in Texas?

And: Tours from Beyoncé and Taylor Swift are generating huge spending on everything from concert tickets and merch to spillover effects on travel, clothing and more.

KUT Afternoon Newscast for August 3, 2023

Central Texas top stories for August 3, 2023. Wildfire update. Heat protections special session. COVID cases rising in Austin. Short-term-rental ruling. College Possible expanding. Lone Star Tick. Austin art education grants.

Still Wearing Pajama Pants

The pandemic impacted many parts of many of our lives. For some, that included what we wear. This Typewriter Rodeo poem celebrates one change that the poet is embracing as permanent.

KUT Afternoon Newscast for June 5, 2023

Central Texas top stories for June 5, 2023. UT COVID study finds economically disadvantaged areas had more infections. Austin American-Statesman staff on one-day strike. Round Rock ISD offering free summer meals. Williamson Justice of the Peace Forum. Kyle asks for input on growth plans. Austin FC.

Podcast explores whether a Texas Ranger extracted a false confession

Two major changes in federal policies within the past 24 hours having outsized implications for Texas. Change number one: the end of Title 42 rapid deportations. But for tens of thousands now trying to cross the Mexico border into Texas, the deportations continue.

The end of an era for the pandemic as the national emergency is lifted, but a Texas epidemiologist says that doesn’t mean an end to the COVID-19 threat.

A confession of guilt during a Texas murder investigation, but was the confession real or compelled by questionable interrogation techniques?

Also the week in Texas politics with the Texas Tribune and poetry from the Typewriter Rodeo.

Title 42 expires as border braces for migrants’ mass arrival

The end of an era, and the start of what could be a dramatic new chapter in the history of border and immigration policy. Title 42 ends at the stroke of midnight, and predictions of a period of chaos at the border are coming from President Biden on down. We’ll talk to someone on the front lines of providing shelter and food to migrants crossing into the U.S.

What rights does a fetus have in a post-Dobbs America? How the end of Roe v. Wade has states testing the limits of fetal personhood.

Nueces County charges ahead with plans for a new Tesla lithium refinery despite concerns about some of Elon Musk’s other big Texas projects.

KUT Morning Newscast for February 27, 2023

Central Texas top stories for February 27, 2023. MetroRail suspended. Austin ISD school renovations. Wimberley ISD pronoun and gender fluidity policies. Texas energy grid efficiency. Local COVID-19 resources.

How Austin has changed

Last night’s State of the Union touched on immigration, inflation, gun violence and other issues. Richard Pineda of the University of Texas at El Paso joins us with analysis of the annual message by the president to Congress.

A legal challenge to an abortion drug and a possible decision from a federal judge in Amarillo that could come as early as this week, with potential implications nationwide.

Wage gains for migrants filling jobs in the U.S. and why a visa program for seasonal workers may not be working for U.S. employers.

And author Lawrence Wright on the astonishing transformation of the Texas capital city.