Health

Vaccines

The distribution of a vaccine is providing some light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. While that light is still in the distance and what we’ll find when we get to it is still unknown, this Typewriter Rodeo poem is focused on the hope of drawing nearer to it.

Texas Standard: December 28, 2020

A new survey shows changing attitudes on vaccinations in Texas, and the numbers offer even more surprises and important insights. We’ll take a deeper dive in to what that means. Also, 12 states have not expanded medicaid, Texas among them. Economist Ray Perryman on why Texas lawmakers should consider 2021 an opportunity to turn things around. Plus a happier new year for Texas’ top energy commodity? Our energy insider with a reality check. And a profile of the person tapped to head up the Dallas police department. Plus the protests of 2020 and those of 5 decades earlier: a new book recalls the often overlooked intersection of activism and the church. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Loved Ones

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many families and friends to keep their distance — even at times when a hug is really needed. That was the inspiration for this Typewriter Rodeo poem.

Texas Standard: September 10, 2020

The politics of policing part two: the mayor of Austin pushes back against the governor’s call to take a pledge not to defund police. Coming up our conversation with Austin mayor Steve Adler who says characterizations of major cutbacks in the Texas capital city’s police funding amount to GOP politics as usual. We’ll hear more Also, changes to the sex ed curriculum in Texas, LGBTQ students say proposals are woefully inadequate as social conservatives push an abstinence only message. And the threat to a burgeoning industry, Texas wineries teaming up. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: September 9, 2020

As many Texans struggle to make ends meet in a pandemic, politicians debate what sort of relief to offer. We’ll talk with Senator John Cornyn. Also, among the biggest cities in the US, residents of Houston appear to be facing the toughest challenges when it comes to personal finance and health. We’ll have details from a new survey by NPR and Harvard. Plus the politics of medicine amid a pandemic, how college campuses are trying to curb the spread amid rising COVID-19 numbers, the Fed changes its position on curbing inflation, what that might mean from most everyday folks and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: September 4, 2020

After major cuts in the budget for police in the capitol city, Texas’ governor warns of a possible takeover of policing by the DPS. That story and more on the Texas Standard.

Children are dying- so says a federal judge warning Texas isn’t doing enough to protect kids in foster care. The latest from Bob Garrett of the Dallas Morning News.

A border wall–about to fall? A new engineering report warns a three mile section built in south Texas could tumble, as a legal fight to bring it down rages on.

Also the week in politics with the Texas Tribune and more.

Texas Standard: September 1, 2020

DIY vaccines? Groups of scientists going their own way to try to develop new tools to combat the pandemic, But is it legal or ethical? We’ll have more on DIY vaccines. Also Dr. Fred Campbell of UT Health San Antonio is back to answer more questions from listeners about COVID-19. And with renewed scrutiny on long standing racial disparities, the spotlight turns to interpreters for the deaf in Texas. Plus 75 years after V-J day, how veterans and a Texas museum dedicated to the war in the pacific are marking the moment. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: August 26, 2020

Residents of the northern part of the Texas gulf coast prepare for the worst as Hurricane Laura approaches, gathering speed. Overnight, hurricane Laura intensified 70 percent, approaching category 4 as it neared the coastal border of Louisiana and Texas. Many cities have been evacuated, we’ll be checking in with the mayor pro-tem of Galveston, who says residents there are bracing from a storm similar to Hurricane Ike. Also a major beef between Harvard and Texas A&M as the two institutions engage in a public food fight over the safety of eating meat. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: July 17, 2020

For many school districts: competing mandates from state leaders and local health officials leaving teachers parents and kids in limbo. Our conversation with superintendent of EL Paso ISD on the practical challenges of reopening public schools. Also, more on a newly unveiled proposal to cut 130 million dollars from state health services as the Coronavirus fight continues. And 5 years after the death of Sandra Bland, the mark she left at her alma mater, and on a movement. Plus the week in politics with the Texas Tribune and much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: June 4, 2020

A Texas police chief’s tactic for defusing tensions between demonstrators and police: join the march. As demonstrators continue protests over police tactics, Houston’s police chief talks why he’s joining demonstrators in the streets, and what he’s hearing from protesters. Also whether curfews are working to curb violence in San Antonio. Plus, despite a need for more contact tracing to combat COVID-19, why Texas is declining to use a smartphone solution. And listener questions on COVID-19 and much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: May 20, 2020

In a state with one of the lowest health insurance rates in the nation, a dangerous dip in coverage for many more Texans, we’ll have the latest. Other stories we’re covering, the Texan in line to become the nation’s next top intelligence official. We’ll hear what’s at stake as the Senate takes up the nomination of Republican John Radcliffe of Heath to be the next director of national intelligence. Also, despite a ban on such events, a small group in Texas gets one of the nation’s first live in person graduations of 2020. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: April 16, 2020

As many jobs lost in the past month as all those created since the great recession, now Texas hospitals struggling to make ends meet, we’ll have the latest. Other stories were tracking: the oil and gas industry asking for more state regulation? More on an historic hearing aimed at trying to stop a downward spiral. Also, one place where business is good? Check in with some factories on the Texas Mexico border. And the Texas governor set to talk about plans aimed at getting back to business. A top pandemic expert at Texas A&M has a warning. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: March 31, 2020

On the front lines in the war against COVID-19: how the fight is playing out in rural Texas, and the potential health crisis few are talking about. We’ll have the latest. Also, Texas counts! We all know that, right? But many worry that Texas might miss out on an important tally that could cost Texas more than just hundreds of millions of dollars, we’ll explain. And how to make sense of Coronavirus case counts. Plus where do doctors turn for medical supplies? How the current crisis may force a rethink of the healthcare supply chain. Those stories and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: March 6, 2020

A plan to restore the faith of Harris county Voters on their election system can’t come fast enough, we’ll have details. Plus we’ll tell you everything we know about the Coronavirus and how to prepare. And if you’re struggling to find housing in Texas, you’re not alone. Apparently we are short by about half a million homes. And, now that the waters of election day have mostly settled, we provide some analysis. Those stories and a lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: February 18, 2020

As Bloomberg surges in the polls, his Texas strategy draws national attention, as another billionaire bets on Texas as a turning point. Our conversation with Tom Steyer on how the former hedge fund manager is pitching himself as an outsider here in the Lone Star State. Also on this first day of early voting, long time democratic members of congress from Texas facing challenges from progressives, in a fight for the soul of the party. Plus religious tattoos: new research suggests they’re making a distinctive mark. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: December 12, 2019

Blocked at the border: a judge in El Paso puts the brakes again on part of the president’s border wall project, although parts of the wall are still going up. We’ll have more on the latest legal challenge to the president’s effort to fulfill his campaign promise of a border wall from the Gulf to the Pacific. Also, a battle in the Texas Capitol City over changes to the code may be the shape of things to come for the rest of Texas, we’ll hear why. And 2019, a good year for cyber security? Our tech expert Omar Gallaga gets us up to speed and more today on the Texas Standard:

The Man Who Led The Battle Against Yellow Fever

By W. F. Strong

I’m walking on the veranda of the Gorgas Building at Texas Southmost College in Brownsville. It’s named for the famous Army physician, William Gorgas, who was sent here to Fort Brown in 1882. This building was already here when he was. It was the hospital he ran. What he would learn here, and what would happen to him, would change the world.

Gorgas was just 27 years old when arrived at Fort Brown. There was a full-blown yellow fever epidemic raging at the time. It was so named because it turned eyes and skin yellow. About half the people who came down with it, died. Yellow fever was not only deadly, it was quick. You could feel fine on Wednesday morning, have symptoms kick-in that afternoon, and be dead by Saturday.

Gorgas fought yellow fever head on. He didn’t yet know that mosquitoes spread it, but he did know that good sanitation and quarantining patients was useful. He launched public health measures that helped cut short the epidemic. Perhaps the best thing that happened to him during this time, and it will seem a strange thing to say, is that he came down with yellow fever himself, but it gave him life long immunity. He vowed to make fighting the disease his life’s work.

His next significant posting in his war on yellow fever was to Cuba.  It was there that the research of the Cuban doctor, Carlos Finlay, had laid out a convincing case for mosquitoes being responsible for transmitting the illness. Walter Reed, a name you likely recognize, tested Finlay’s theories and proved without a doubt that mosquitoes were responsible. Then Gorgas put the knowledge to practical use with fumigation, screening, and outlawing open cisterns and standing water. Astoundingly, those efforts virtually wiped out yellow fever in Havana in a couple of years, reducing cases from thousands a year to fewer than 20.

Then Dr. Gorgas made his big leap onto the world stage. You will remember the French had tried to dig the Panama Canal but failed miserably because they lost thousands of workers to yellow fever. Disease drove them out and silenced the steam shovels. The Americans, in a cannot-fail bid to do what the French couldn’t, resumed the dig. But in the first years, yellow fever and malaria threatened to drive the Americans out, too. Some said it would have taken 50 years and 80 thousand lives to finish the canal under those conditions.

Gorgas was brought in to solve the problem. But the political leaders in charge didn’t want to hear anything about his mosquito theory. They told him to keep that crazy theory to himself because “everyone knew that those tropical illnesses came from miasma, bad air.” Hell, the word Malaria itself came from Italian, translating verbatim “mal” “aria” – bad air. Gorgas learned as Galileo did that getting the world, even scientists, to ditch a centuries old belief system in favor of a new one, has always been unfathomably difficult.

Gorgas wanted to take what he had learned in Brownsville and Cuba and put it to work on a grand scale in Panama. He applied for a million dollars to protect Panama. The U.S. gave him 50 thousand. But with such poor funding, hundreds of workers were dying each month and the Americans risked being embarrassed by failure, just like the French. Teddy Roosevelt himself intervened and more or less said “give Gorgas what he wants.”

So it was then that Gorgas screened all the houses, buildings and particularly the hospitals in the Canal Zone. This was essential because a patient could only get yellow fever from a mosquito that had bitten someone with yellow fever. Gorgas also had an army of fumigators at work across the isthmus every day.

As he had in Cuba, Gorgas got rid of standing water and required covers on cisterns. He also drained swamps and treated undrainable waters with oil to keep larvae from forming. Within two years yellow fever had been completely eradicated from Panama.

Gorgas was considered the medical hero of the canal because, without his work, the engineers and diggers and construction workers could never have done their work. Gorgas without question, made the canal a reality.

After Panama, Gorgas eventually became Surgeon General of the U.S. Army and was knighted by the King of England for his work in tropical diseases, from which the British greatly benefited.

So here I sit on the veranda of his old hospital at Fort Brown in Texas. The building still bears Gorgas’ name. I also admire the fact that his name has a place of honor 8 thousand miles away on the side of the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Here at Texas Southmost College, funded from this very building, are many fine programs in nursing and health professions active today.  I think Gorgas would be pleased.

Texas Standard: December 10, 2019

Deadline for getting on the ballot in Texas comes and goes. We’ll take a look at what the list of candidates may or may not tell us about an evolution in Texas politics. Also, years ago alarm bells sounded over a high rate of maternal mortality in Texas. Then the data was found to be problematic. A new investigation suggests it was right to be concerned after all. And a booming business in craft distilling in Texas. But spirits are low over a coming change. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: November 27, 2019

Flu season is back in full swing… and some experts are concerned about one especially vulnerable population. Why they’re not getting shots- today on the Texas Standard.

The man behind a 3D gun blueprint company is taking the reigns again after a brush with the law. We’ll explore the legal grey area.

Landowners in the Texas Hill Country continue to fight plans for a pipeline- what they’re up against.

Plus, a language update that was 75 years overdue. The new art exhibit meant to challenge what we mean by communication. And the little-known story behind one word also used as a measurement.

Texas Standard: November 18, 2019

An indefinite stay. What’s next for death row inmate Rodney Reed, who had been set to be executed on November 20th? We’ll have the latest. Also, once sleepy counties on the edges of our biggest cities starting to boom: the changing face of the Texas suburbs. And a hold up at the police station? Why some say law enforcement agencies are preventing vulnerable immigrants from getting special visa designed to get them out of harm’s way. Also, a large Catholic diocese wants to provide foster care services without penalties for LGBT discrimination. Those stories and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard: