Vaccine

Texas Standard: August 21, 2020

The party’s party’s over – now what? After the national convention, how do Texas democrats plan to seize on the momentum? A closer look today – our conversation with the head of the Texas democratic party on next steps in the run up to November. Plus, a Declaration of Independence for women in US politics. Also, a big arrest involving an effort to build a private border wall in South Texas – what’s known and what isn’t. A new batch of listener questions about COVID-19, a look back at the week in politics with the Texas Tribune and much more when the Texas Standard gets underway.

Texas Standard: August 10, 2020

Congress couldn’t agree, so President Trump picked up a pen. But what exactly will his executive actions over the weekend do? We’ll explore. Also, trial by Zoom: how a couple of cases in San Antonio and Austin could set precedent across the country. And the road to a vaccine. Efforts for a COVID-19 vaccine are moving much faster than usual. How’s that working? Also, schools are reopening and families are making decisions about whether and how to send kids back. We’ll hear from a few. And an East Texas man wins big in a lawsuit, and we’re not talking money. Those stories and more coming up on today’s Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: July 28, 2020

COVID-19 cases are plateauing in the Lone Star State. But that’s not the end of the story, we’ll have the latest. Also, how Texas A&M is strategically positioned to mass produce a COVID-19 vaccine. And how racism also occurs within communities of color. Plus Disaster declarations after Hanna and what the governor is doing to restore the Valley. And neighbors trying to remain neighborly. How the U.S. and Mexico share the waters of the Rio Grande River. Those stories and much more today on the Texas Standard:

The Texas Polio Epidemic

The silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic, if there is one, seems to be that it spares children. The polio epidemic that raged off and on in the United States for about 40 years did the opposite. Indeed, it seemed to focus on children. Whereas there is hope that COVID-19, like the flu, will weaken in warmer weather, polio was most aggressive in the summer months. As such, Texas was perhaps the hardest hit state of all.

Dr. Heather Green Wooten, a medical historian, and author of the award-winning book, The Polio Years in Texas: Battling a Terrifying Unknown, told me the story of how Texas responded to the polio epidemic that terrified the state every summer for years.

Dr. Wooten told me that when San Angelo had a breakout of polio in 1949 – the hardest-hit town per capita that year in the U.S. – it was horrifying in scope for the city of 50,000. Sixty children in San Angelo came down with polio in one summer. Many died. Movie theaters and swimming pools and public gatherings were shut down. Travelers passing through would roll up their windows so as not to breathe the potentially contaminated air. They wouldn’t even fill up a low tire at the gas station for fear of taking the virus with them. Some residents refused to talk on the phone with anyone, believing that perhaps, somehow, polio could travel through the phone lines.

This kind of fear gripped Texas every summer for years. Parents would not let their children swim or go to summer camp or do anything in groups in an effort to keep them safe. Houses were kept spotless and were scrubbed top to bottom to kill all the germs. In fact, Wooten told me, “When mothers lost a child to polio, they suffered added anguish because they felt they would be judged as bad mothers and poor housekeepers. They would explain to reporters that ‘they had always kept a very clean house and didn’t understand how this could have happened.’”

There was a public service song by Red River Dave, frequently played on the radio in those days. It stressed cleanliness. Here’s a sample:

Take care that all the food you eat and kitchen ware is clean/

Kill the rats and kill the mice and make the roaches go/

That’s the way to really whip that mean old polio

The response to polio was largely a grassroots one, with the common man (and children) largely funding the research, the treatments, the hospitals and rehab centers. The March of Dimes, launched by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was enormously successful in this regard. It mobilized school children and civic groups of all kinds – Rotary International, Kiwanis, The Masons – to collect dimes, quarters and dollars from anyone and everyone. Theaters would play a short film like “The Crippler” before every movie, and then turn on the lights and collect donations from the crowd. It was incredibly effective. The March of Dimes also introduced us to the concept of the poster child, one of the most persuasive fundraising strategies of all time. Collection receptacles, in the form of little iron lungs, were placed at cash registers everywhere.

Wooten said that the small donations coming from almost every American gave each person a stake in beating polio. I like that one year the March of Dimes national campaign was launched from the community of Dime Box, Texas, about 70 miles east of Austin. How’s that for creative marketing!

When World War II broke out, the March of Dimes feared that donations would dry up.  However, FDR made beating polio part of the war effort. He said on a radio address: “The fight against [polio] is a fight to the finish, and the terms are unconditional surrender.”

Big money entered the fight as well. Texas’ great oilmen gave millions to build hospitals, treatment facilities and fund research. Two of the greatest contributors were oil magnate Hugh Roy Cullen and politician Jesse Jones, both historically among Texas’ most generous philanthropists.

Great institutions in Texas like the Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children and the Gonzalez Warm Springs Rehab Hospital for Crippled Children were among the best in the country, as was the Jefferson Davis Hospital in Houston. A fascinating side note is that these hospitals were also among the first institutions to be fully integrated, accepting all children on equal terms, regardless of race, religion or creed. Wooten noted that the children took to integration beautifully and became each other’s best therapy. Doctors found that putting them together helped them function as a team against the disease, cheering each other on against a common enemy.

You know the rest of the story: Dr. Jonas Salk, funded by the March of Dimes, discovered the first vaccine for the virus in the early 1950s, and rather than getting a patent and becoming an instant billionaire, he made a gift of his vaccine to all humanity.

Texas Standard: March 20, 2020

The latest on efforts to develop a Cornonavirus vaccine and speed up research on medical treatments. Also with stay at home the order of the day, some tips on how to get more work done, even with the kids around. And diversionary tactics that don’t involve a screen. They call them books. Hot tips for cool reads, plus the the week in Texas politics and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: November 15, 2019

A show of resilience in El Paso: for the first time doors re open at the site of the August mass shooting at a WalMart, we’ll have the latest. Also, the Supreme Court hands a rare victory to plaintiffs trying to hold gunmakers liable in mass shooting cases. And how to make democracy better? Smarter ballots. We’ll hear one professor’s big idea. Plus the week that was in Texas politics from the Texas Tribune and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: August 21, 2019

A major rule change for migrant families in detention just announced which some say could mean families held in detention indefinitely. We’ll have details. Other stories were tracking, a new spring in the step of Texas Democrats. A closer look at a possible shift in the political psychology of the Lone Star State. Also, water borne toxins blamed for the deaths of 4 dogs in the Austin area, but the same algae blooms linked to those deaths can be found across Texas. Practical tips on keeping pets safe and cool around the water. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: August 19, 2019

A partial win for the Trump administration’s new rule for asylum is affecting thousands of people on the other side of the Texas Mexico divide. We’ll take a look at whats happening. Other stories we’re covering: a ransomware attack paralyses 23 government computer systems statewide. Could it have been prevented? One expert says absolutely. Also, a man set to be executed by Texas this week. It’s his sixth scheduled execution date. Why questions about his actual innocence have haunted the courts for almost two decades. Those stories and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: August 14, 2019

A time for reflection and healing as El Paso holds a city-wide memorial service for the 22 victims of the August 3rd mass shooting. We’ll have the latest. Other stories were watching: two incidents half a world away. How protests in Hong Kong and an explosion in the arctic circle could have ripple effects for the Lone Star State. Also, a tale of two governments fighting HPV. How a nation with a population and economy the size of Texas is beating the Lone Star State, and what we might learn. All of that and then some today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: May 23, 2019

A border detention facility in McAllen shutdown, this in the wake of the death of a detained 16 year old migrant. We’ll have the latest. Also, the U.S. is blacklisting Huawei, the China-based phone maker. And the effects of that decision is hitting home harder than you might think. Plus a new investigation shows police in Texas accused of serious crimes and possible jail time using their badges as bargaining chips. Plus one of Texas’ biggest counties trying to make it easier for voters to do their thing…but will it work? Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: December 24, 2018

Demographic shifts and low reimbursements from Medicaid and Medicare add up to trouble for Texas’s rural hospitals. When a rural hospital shuts down it can have ripple effects, the health professionals leave and so do the pharmacists, creating healthcare deserts. And it’s not just physical health. Texas is also facing an enormous shortage of psychiatrists, especially outside of the big cities. But it’s not all bad news in health for Texas: the state is also home to some great innovators. We’ll introduce you to a few. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: November 1, 2018

Along a major bridge in south Texas, welders putting barriers in place. We’ll get a first hand look at steps being taken in an apparent effort to shut down the border. We’ll be talking with a reporter from the McAllen monitor about unprecedented work on a bridge spanning the Rio Grande and what it could mean in practical terms. Also, the FDA green lights what could be a life saving new flu drug even though the researcher behind it says it could have happened long ago. Why the wait? Think: money. And a deal by IBM turns the nation’s attention to Texas farms, and not the kind that grow crops either. All that and then some today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: January 16, 2017

Does the voting rights act still protect minorities? A working-class Texas town could be at the heart of a new test for the landmark law, we’ll explore. Also for decades, Texas has permitted vaccination exemptions for reasons of conscience. We’ll hear about a plan to change that. And if they build it, will they come? Selling state planners on a “prairie to port superhighway” thru Texas. And cattle rustlers beware: the big money’s on a new outlaw …time to lock up your beehives? And in south Texas scores of pelicans falling from the sky directly onto traffic below…the mystery…and much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: August 11, 2016

Maybe you thought the battle in the so-called transgender bathroom wars was winding down. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton isn’t giving up, and he’s got ten other states behind him. We’ll explore. Also a program that provides tuition for veterans, unique to Texas, is costing universities more and more every year. The question, how to pay for it? Plus, an uptick in Texas kids skipping vaccines. And yes, the Olympics. We’ll talk technology (think 3-d printed shoes) and the evolution of drug testing, it’s come a long way since amphetamines.
All that and more on today’s Texas Standard: