Cars line up for a drive-thru COVID-19 test at a CVS Pharmacy in Carver, Massachusetts. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

As COVID Testing Soars, Wait Times For Results Jump To A Week — Or More

By Phil Galewitz, Kaiser Health News

Elliot Truslow went to a CVS drugstore on June 15 in Tucson, Arizona, to get tested for the coronavirus. The drive-thru nasal swab test took less than 15 minutes.

More than 22 days later, the University of Arizona graduate student was still waiting for results.

Truslow was initially told it would take two to four days. Then CVS said five or six days. On the sixth day, the pharmacy estimated it would take 10 days.

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Texas is home to as many as 14 tarantula species, but the most common in the state, and in our region, is the “Texas brown,” Aphonopelma hentzi.

In West Texas, Summer Brings the Tarantula “Swarm”

Henry Thoreau is a touchstone in environmental thinking, and he pioneered a form of political resistance still employed today. But for the last decade of his life, he was devoted to a quieter endeavor: “phenology,” the study of cyclic and … Continue reading

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Ss more resourced facilities across the region experience a growing number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, it’s becoming more of a challenge to transfer local residents from the Big Bend region. (Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio)

As Hospital Capacity In West Texas Shrinks, More COVID-19 Patients Are Being Treated In The Big Bend

By Carlos Morales

On June 18, several days after coronavirus cases began to climb in the Big Bend region, a local patient would be transferred from Big Bend Regional Medical Center in Alpine to Medical Center Hospital in Odessa, over 140 miles away.

The resident, a 70-year-old man from Alpine, was placed in critical care and moved to a floor specifically for coronavirus patients that needed extra monitoring. He was intubated and placed on a ventilator before eventually dying from complications from the coronavirus.

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A crowd gathered outside of Power House Gym on Sunday in Houston to honor Army Spc. Vanessa Guillén. (Briana Vargas for The Texas Tribune)

Texans Across The State March To Demand Justice For Fort Hood Soldier Vanessa Guillén

By Miguel Gutierrez Jr. and Jolie McCullough, Texas Tribune

In major Texas cities, protesters and mourners took to the streets over the weekend as remains found near Fort Hood were confirmed by family to belong to missing Army Spc. Vanessa Guillén.

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Gov. Greg Abbott's latest order requires Texans living in counties with more than 20 COVID-19 cases to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth while in a business or other building open to the public, as well as outdoor public spaces, whenever social distancing is not possible. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/Pool/American-Statesman)

Gov. Greg Abbott Orders Texans In Most Counties To Wear Masks In Public

By Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune

Abbott previously resisted calls for such an order and at one point banned local governments from requiring masks. First-time violators will be issued a warning, though repeat offenders could be fined up to $250.

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Permian Basin Hospitals Concerned Over Limited Staffing As Coronavirus Case Counts Rise

By Mitch Borden

Odessa’s largest hospital is closing its doors to nearby communities as the Permian Basin’s already limited healthcare infrastructure struggles to care for the growing number of COVID-19 patients in the region. 

Midland and Odessa have seen over 1400 COVID-19 cases so far, with a sizable portion appearing in the past month. In early June, the cities had fewer than 300 cases combined.

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Beginning July 2, Big Bend National Park will close once again. The move comes as the number of coronavirus cases in Brewster County continues to grow. (Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio)

Amid Growing Coronavirus Cases, Big Bend National Park Closes For The Second Time

By Carlos Morales

A month after gradually reopening Big Bend National Park, officials have decided to close until further notice, as a resident within the park’s community has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to park management. It’s unclear how long BBNP will be closed.

Across the entire Big Bend region, coronavirus cases have steadily climbed in the last several days. As of Wednesday, there is a total of 140 COVID-19 cases in Brewster County and nearly 800 results pending across the tri-county.

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(Art by Valerie “CrowCrumbs” Howard / The Big Bend Sentinel)

Early Voting Starts Today. Here’s What West Texans Need To Know About Runoff Candidates.

By Marfa Public Radio Staff

Today, Texas voters can begin casting their ballots for the candidates that will run in the general election in November. The Texas primary runoff election will determine the candidates for a range of races, including U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, Texas House and Texas Senate.

Early voting begins on Monday, June 29 and runs through Friday, July 10. Election day is Tuesday, July 14. Texans can check their voter registration status and find their nearest polling locations on the Texas Secretary of State’s website

A voters guide highlighting races for U.S. Senate, Railroad Commission, State Board of Education and Court of Appeals from the League of Women Voters of Texas can be found here.

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With Limited Resources, Far West Texas Is ‘Not The Place To Get Sick.’

By Carlos Morales

For a while, it seemed the threat of COVID-19 in rural West Texas was something that would arrive from the outside, from visitors coming from places harder hit by the disease.

So when cases began cropping up in the state’s metropolitan hubs, local governments in the Big Bend region closed hotels and short-term rentals to non-essential workers, and soon the tri-county put in place ordinances that limited residents and visitors from coming and leaving the area.

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McDannald Ranch Fire, as seen from McDonald Observatory Monday evening. (Photo: Katie Smither)

West Texas Faces Severe Wildfire Threat As Dry Conditions Continue

By Diana Nguyen

Fire officials in West Texas are warning of a potentially severe wildfire season as dry conditions persist across the region. 

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Want A Coronavirus Test In Texas? You May Have To Wait For Hours In A Car.

By Shannon Najmabadi, The Texas Tribune

Months into the pandemic, demand for coronavirus tests is soaring. Texans report problems with almost every facet of the testing process, starting with the glitching websites and unanswered phone lines used to schedule appointments, and extending to long lags before test results come back.

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More Than 30 Texas Bars Sue Over Gov. Greg Abbott’s Recent Shutdown Order

By Mitchell Ferman, The Texas Tribune

Abbott has said the actions of his executive order “are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health.”

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Presidio And Brewster County Judges Issue Executive Orders Requiring Masks

By Marfa Public Radio Staff

This story has been updated to reflect Presidio County’s order.

All Presidio and Brewster County businesses will have to require employees and customers wear face coverings starting Tuesday.

County Judges Cinderela Guevara and Eleazar Cano issued executive orders on Monday mandating all employees and patrons of commercial entities to wear facial coverings while inside businesses.

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The Big Bend Region Sees First COVID-19 Death

By Marfa Public Radio Staff

Medical Center Health System in Odessa announced the first Big Bend death on Sunday morning, a 70-year-old man who had several pre-existing conditions.

The patient was transferred from Big Bend Regional Medical Center on June 18. At least two other patients were transferred from BBRMC to Medical Center Hospital, according to health authorities in Odessa.

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Early voting starts Monday for the primary runoff in Texas. Here’s what you need to know.

By Valeria Olivares, The Texas Tribune

Texans will be voting in the middle of a pandemic on congressional, legislative and state board seats.

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