Texas expects to receive more than 200,000 initial doses of newly-approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration approved Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday for use in the U.S., the third vaccine to be approved since the pandemic began. Texas could initially receive more than 200,000 doses, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, but the agency hasn’t received a timeline for when they would arrive. The company has said it plans to ship 20 million shots in the U.S. by the end of March and an additional 80 million doses before the end of June. Texas received about 1.5 million vaccine doses by Pfizer and Moderna this week, including doses that had been undelivered earlier in the month because of the winter storm. Unlike those vaccines, Johnson &

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U.S. House passes $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package, but minimum wage hike isn’t likely to survive

Need to stay updated on coronavirus news in Texas? Our evening roundup will help you stay on top of the day’s latest updates. Sign up here. WASHINGTON — With the backing of Texas Democrats, the U.S. House early Saturday morning passed a $1.9 trillion aid package intended to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control and offset the economic damage the virus unleashed over the last year. It is largely an extension of ongoing economic aid since the virus wreaked havoc on American life nearly a year ago. Known as the “American Rescue Plan,” it is the first major piece of legislation of the Biden era. The bill will now head to the U.S. Senate where it is likely to face

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Rural Texas communities face long recoveries and stretched budgets without federal aid

Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news. For 33 years, Debbie Gosnell has served as the city manager of Cross Plains, which is 44 miles southeast of Abilene. She’s helped the Callahan County town of around 1,000 residents through tornados and a fire that she said nearly destroyed the town in 2005. Now she’s helping the town recover after a historic freeze that affected every corner of the state. All 254 Texas counties have received state disaster declarations by Gov. Greg Abbott, opening them up to additional state assistance. But more than half, including Callahan, have not been approved for federal aid by the White House. With

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Texas workers struggle to pay for groceries and rent after losing wages during winter storm

Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news. Nearly a year ago, at the beginning of the pandemic, Hockley resident Roxanne Espinosa didn’t know how she and her husband would pay rent or feed their family. They decided to buy groceries and make a late payment to their landlord. Espinosa, who cares for their children full time, tried to file for rental assistance, but the process took too long to provide any immediate relief for her family. “We did have to pay rent like 10 days late, and we got charged a lot because we had to pay late just so we could have groceries,” she said. “So

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Griddy customers moved to other electricity providers after ERCOT boots it from Texas market

Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news. Texans who receive their electricity from Griddy Energy are being shifted to other providers after the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the power grid for most of Texas, revoked the company’s rights to operate because it missed required payments to ERCOT, according to a market notice. In all, Texas electricity providers failed to make more than $2.1 billion in payments that were due to ERCOT, according to another market notice Friday. The state entity depends on transaction fees from providers to help operate the state’s electric grid. Those missed payments came after the costs for a megawatt hour

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Two years after “remain in Mexico” policy began, migrants allowed to pursue their asylum claims in the U.S.

CIUDAD JUAREZ — Nearly two years after the start of a Trump-era policy that forced tens of thousands of asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their immigration hearings, a small group of migrants were allowed into El Paso Friday afternoon to pursue their asylum claims in American courtrooms. The end of the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as “remain in Mexico” in this stretch of the border comes a day after a small group of migrants were allowed into Texas from the Mexican city of Matamoros, across from Brownsville, on Thursday. More than 70,000 migrants, mostly from Cuba and Central America, have been put into the program since its inception in late 2018 in California. The policy expanded to

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Another ERCOT board member resigns as lawmakers criticize power grid operator for massive electricity outages

Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news. Another Electric Reliability Council of Texas board member has resigned after a winter storm caused the near-collapse of the state’s power grid. Clifton Karnei, executive vice president of Brazos Electric Power Cooperative, is the seventh board member of the state’s power grid operator to quit this week. “We received word last night,” ERCOT spokeswoman Leslie Sopko said Friday. “I believe he is from Texas.” The Fort Worth Star-Telegram first reported the additional resignation. Unlike Karnei, the other board members who resigned this week reside outside of Texas. Lawmakers grilled ERCOT, and the Public Utility Commission that oversees ERCOT, during legislative

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Texas schools still tallying storm costs, and some won’t reopen soon

When the winter storm hit Texas last week, the overhead sprinklers across the hall from Valerie Malone’s first-grade classroom broke and flooded rooms on both sides. Malone’s elementary school is one of seven in the Arlington Independent School District that couldn’t open for in-person learning this week, joining dozens across the state. The fast-plummeting frigid temperatures and power outages froze sprinkler systems, destroyed flooring and disrupted crucial services to school buildings, temporarily preventing some from providing students with food and shelter. School leaders are still surveying the damage and calculating their losses. Some schools might not be able to reopen for in-person learning at all this school year, adding instability to an academic year already complicated by a pandemic. “I

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Texas judge rules federal eviction moratorium unconstitutional. Lawyers and advocates disagree on what that means for tenants.

Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news. The federal moratorium on evictions is unconstitutional, a federal judge in Texas ruled Thursday, siding with property owners in the state who have argued that the U.S. government does not have the power to stop evictions. U.S. District Judge John Barker, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, said he would not issue a preliminary injunction and instead expected the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to withdraw the moratorium. “The federal government cannot say that it has ever before invoked its power over interstate commerce to impose a residential eviction moratorium,” Barker wrote in his ruling. “The federal

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Sen. Ted Cruz declares Trumpism among Republicans “ain’t goin’ anywhere” at Florida conference

Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, in a speech Friday at a major national conservative gathering, joked about his recent trip to Cancún during the Texas winter weather crisis and promised that former President Donald Trump would be a lasting force in the Republican Party. Cruz appeared at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, as President Joe Biden headed to Texas to see the state’s recovery from last week’s storm, which left millions of Texans without power and potable water. The Democratic president was set to be joined in Houston by the state’s senior U.S. senator, John Cornyn, as

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