Bret Jaspers | KERA News

Bret Jaspers

Bret Jaspers is politics reporter for KERA.

His stories have aired nationally on the BBC, NPR’s All Things ConsideredMorning EditionWeekend Edition, and Here & Now, and APM’s Marketplace. Prior to KERA, Bret reported on politics and the Colorado River basin for KJZZ in Phoenix, and was managing editor at WSKG in upstate New York. He got his start in radio as an intern and temp producer at WNYC.

Awards include three 2020 Regional Murrow Awards for reporting at KJZZ, one for Hard News, and two as part of KJZZ’s series Tracing the Migrant Journey.

Bret is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional stage actors.

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Joe Biden in a crowd
Michael Wyke / Associated Press

Former Vice President Joe Biden first tantalized Democrats when he tossed out a television ad in Texas in mid-July. The campaign aired versions of the spot in three other states.

Bret Jaspers / KERA News

Gov. Greg Abbott is urging Texans to get flu vaccines early this season. He’s warning about a double whammy of flu and COVID-19.

Speaking in Dallas on Thursday, Abbott said COVID-19 is still a dangerous threat — and that combining COVID with a bad flu season would be terrible for the healthcare system.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in late June. He announced a statewide mask order on July 2.
Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press

At the Republican Party of Texas’ virtual convention this past weekend, Gov. Greg Abbott knew he had to talk about his executive order requiring — in most cases — facemasks in public.

Samples arriving at Texas A&M's vet lab in College Station pass through this room, where they are entered into the lab's computer system.
Bret Jaspers / KERA News

The Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab at Texas A&M University in College Station is two stories of offices and exam rooms filled with sophisticated machines. The lab is one of the largest of its kind in the country. Typical customers are ranchers, dairy farmers, and veterinarians.

Downtown Tyler
LM Photos / Shutterstock.com

The Tyler ISD School Board voted unanimously to change the names of its two high schools, currently named for Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee and John Tyler.

LM Otero / Associated Press

The headlines are pretty clear:

  • MJ Hegar got past Dallas state senator Royce West in the Democratic runoff and now sets her sights on U.S. Senator John Cornyn this fall.

Alex Brandon / Associated Press

An ally who worked for President Trump in the White House won the Republican runoff for a Congressional seat in the Texas Panhandle.

David J. Phillip / Associated Press

Friday is the last day of early voting in the primary runoff election. And while face masks are in wide use at the polls, Gov. Greg Abbott isn’t requiring them. It’s one of the exceptions to his executive order to wear masks in public places

Bret Jaspers / KERA

Nathaniel Aranda of Fort Worth and his wife made a commitment to vote no matter what, because they want their voices heard. Life is complicated, though. 

LM Otero / The Associated Press

Michael Nelson Miller graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in Tyler in 1961, a few years after the school opened and before it was desegregated.

During his college years, he realized his alma mater was drenched in nostalgia for the Confederacy.

Confetti falls as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, center, greets supporters after speaking at the 2018 Texas GOP Convention in San Antonio.
Associated Press

The president of the Texas Medical Association, Dr. Diana Fite, is urging the Republican Party of Texas to reconsider its in-person event in Houston. The event is scheduled for July 16 to 18.

Bret Jaspers / KERA News

Years ago, when his kids were young, Texas Sen. Royce West remembers getting stopped by a cop.

Frederick Haynes, senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in south Dallas, poses for a portrait during Project Unity's "Together We Test" coronavirus testing at a Friendship-West campus in South Dallas, Texas, on May 28, 2020.
Cooper Neill for NPR

Families stood in line wearing masks. White pop-up tents sheltered health care workers while they drew patients' blood.

It wasn't the scene at a medical clinic, but the parking of a black church in South Dallas in late May. 

Families stood in line wearing masks. White pop-up tents sheltered health care workers while they drew patients' blood.

It wasn't the scene at a medical clinic, but the parking of a black church in South Dallas in late May. Friendship-West Baptist Church was the first of several black churches in the area to host a free weekly coronavirus testing event.

Bret Jaspers / KERA News

A curfew for downtown Dallas has been lifted, effective immediately. City manager T. C. Broadnax signed the order Saturday and it has been published on the city’s website.

Evan Vucci / Associated Press

Calling Texas an “important battleground” that he thinks he can win in November, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden spoke to the virtual Texas state Democratic Convention in a recorded speech on Saturday. 

Olinka Green of Dallas spoke to the crowd in front of City Hall.
Bret Jaspers / KERA News

Protests over the police killings of black Americans continued for a second day in Dallas. Saturday's events started peacefully, but police later used tear gas to disperse protesters in downtown, while other demonstrators briefly shut down highways and damaged businesses. 

David J. Phillip / The Associated Press

The City of Dallas’ mobile coronavirus testing service is making house calls, but it saw low numbers over the Memorial Day weekend. 

Walgreens employee talks to person in mini van
Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the country, state and local health officials rush to try to detect and contain outbreaks before they get out of control. A key to that is testing, and despite a slow start, testing has increased around the country.

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the country, state and local health officials rush to try to detect and contain outbreaks before they get out of control. A key to that is testing, and despite a slow start, testing has increased around the country.

But it's still not always easy to get a test. While many things can affect access to testing, location is an important starting point.

Eric Gay / Associated Press

Cesar Varon of Dallas had coronavirus early on in the outbreak. His initial symptoms didn’t seem strange at all.

“So technically my first symptoms were, like, very similar to an allergy,” he said. “Nothing different than that.”

David J. Phillip / Associated Press

Joe Saad is a pathologist and the medical laboratory director at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. He said with the suspension of elective surgeries in Texas until late April and people staying home, there isn’t the same demand for routine tests.

Eric Gay / Associated Press

Texas is moving into a new phase in the coronavirus outbreak: managing transmission while partially reopening non-essential businesses. And still, the rate of testing for the disease remains low. 

A cyclist wears a bandana over his face as he travels past a boarded up business in downtown Austin.
Eric Gay / Associated Press

Friday begins Texas’ reopening. Gov. Greg Abbott announced restaurants, retail stores, malls, museums, libraries, and movie theatres in counties with more than five COVID-19 cases can operate at 25% capacity starting that day. Rural areas with five or fewer cases can open to 50% capacity.

 Gov. Greg Abbott holding the Governor's Report to Reopen Texas book during a news conference Monday where he announced he would relax some restrictions imposed on some businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eric Gay / Associated Press

Texas is joining other states in letting some businesses shut by COVID-19 reopen to the public – at least partly. 

This is a photo of designer dresses on display at the Neiman Marcus flagship Dallas store during the company's 100th Anniversary Celebration event in 2007.
Amy Conn-Gutierrez / Associated Press

The luxury retailer Neiman Marcus could soon declare bankruptcy, according to media reports. It has already temporarily closed its stores and furloughed many employees during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

As one former Neiman Marcus executive put it, the epidemic has contributed to the company’s struggles, but is not the cause.

After high turnout in last year's midterm elections propelled Democrats to a new House majority and big gains in the states, several Republican-controlled state legislatures are attempting to change voting-related rules in ways that might reduce future voter turnout.