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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A line of about 100 cars formed at Barbara Jordan Elementary School in Austin at a COVID-19 testing site. June 26, 2020. (Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune)

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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An employee boards up a bar on Sixth Street in Austin after Gov. Greg Abbott closed bars in Texas for the second time in three months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jordan Vonderhaar / The Texas Tribune)

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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(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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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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Gov. Greg Abbott at a press conference at the state Capitol in Austin on Monday, June 22,2020. (Ricardo B. Brazziell / Pool / American-Statesman)

Gov. Greg Abbott orders Texas bars to close again and restaurants to reduce to 50% occupancy as coronavirus spreads

By Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune

The moves, announced Friday morning, represent Abbott’s most dramatic action yet in response a surge in cases after he allowed businesses to reopen in the state.


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Governments Across Far West Texas Consider Requiring Masks For Businesses

By Carlos Morales

As coronavirus cases steadily climb in the Big Bend region, some local governments have taken up orders mandating businesses to require facial coverings, while others have either declined to enact them or have updated their orders after receiving public feedback.

The cities of Presidio and Marfa recently passed mask ordinances that would now fall in line with Gov. Greg Abbott’s previous orders. But in Alpine, city officials earlier this week balked at passing a similar ordinance for businesses and instead decided proprietors could determine whether masks would be required in their establishments.


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The National Guard conducting coronavirus testing at Greenwood Volunteer Fire Department in Midland County. (Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio)

Odessa Announces Free COVID-19 Testing For The Month Of July

By Mitch Borden

Odessa residents will be able to get tested for COVID-19 for free over the next month. Beginning on June 30th, the City of Odessa will set up mobile coronavirus testing units at parks and have the capacity to administer 200 tests at each location. No appointment is needed on June 30th*, but residents are asked to bring a photo I.D. and to wear a mask.


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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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Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tri-county residents are wearing facemasks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. (Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio)

Following Other Texas Cities And Counties, Marfa Mandates Businesses To Enforce Mask Rule

By Carlos Morales

Following the lead of other Texas governments, Marfa City Council voted unanimously Thursday night to issue an order mandating businesses to require their employees and customers wear face coverings when social distancing isn’t possible.

The order seems to be the only way for city and county officials to enact mask ordinances while falling in line with Gov. Greg Abbott’s previous edicts which prevent officials from mandating mask ordinances for individuals (but not for businesses).


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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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Midland Grand Jury Indicts Tye Anders With 3rd Degree Evading Arrest


By Mitch Borden

Tye Anders has been formally charged with a felony a month after being pulled over for allegedly running a stop sign. A Midland grand jury indicted Anders on Friday for evading arrest with a motor vehicle, a third-degree felony.

If convicted, the 21-year-old could face anywhere from two to ten years behind bars, according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram.

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In the Permian Basin, Coronavirus Response Varies In Seriousness As Case Counts Rise


By Mitch Borden

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the Permian Basin and across the state, the response from elected officials in the region’s two largest cities is markedly different. 

Since last Thursday, Midland and Odessa have recorded 184 new cases of COVID-19 between them, more than doubling the total of confirmed infections in just one month. 

Despite health officials in both communities asking residents to take the virus seriously, the tone between Odessa and Midland varies.

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Texas Students Will Return To School Campuses This Fall, Gov. Greg Abbott Tells Lawmakers

By Aliyya Swaby, Texas Tribune

Texas students will be returning to public schools in person this fall, Gov. Greg Abbott told state lawmakers Thursday morning.

The state’s top education officials confirmed the plans in a statement to The Texas Tribune.

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As COVID-19 Reaches Far West Texas, Businesses And Tourist Destinations Take Precautions

By Carlos Morales

As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the tri-county area has steadily climbed, now reaching over 30, some Far West Texas businesses and destinations have closed their doors as staff and patrons test positive for the virus.

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U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor OF DACA Recipients, Says Trump Administration’s Move To Overturn It Was Arbitrary

By Julián Aguilar, Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled against the Trump administration’s efforts to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, declaring in a 5-to-4 opinion that the 2012 initiative was inappropriately terminated by the Trump administration.

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