Health/Science/Tech | KERA News


Every week, KERA explores the latest in health, science and technology in North Texas through two main series, Vital Signs and Breakthroughs.

Charts at UNT Health Science Center's Human Movement Performance Lab.
Credit Stephanie Kuo / KERA News

Vital Signs

In Vital Signs, Sam Baker taps into the expertise of local health care leaders to provide insight into your everyday health and well-being.


In Breakthroughs, KERA reporters delve into the latest health-related technologies developed in North Texas and across the state. From the Zika virus to fried chicken, no scientific topic is off limits. 

Learn more in-depth multimedia projects: Surviving Ebola, a look at how Ebola made its way to Dallas and the lessons local hospitals and governments learned; Growing Up After Cancer, the journey of one North Texas boy with cancer; and The Broken Hip, an in-depth look at how a fall can change everything. 


Area schools and universities have begun workouts for the new football season. Concussions resulting from contact sports like football are treatable — but the approach has changed over the years.

Gary Rhodes / The Texas Tribune

As the number of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus has reached record highs 12 days in a row, Gov. Greg Abbott and other health officials have stressed that the state has “abundant” capacity to care for them.

Statewide, there were 14,260 available hospital beds and nearly 1,500 intensive care unit beds as of Tuesday.

UT-Southwestern Forecasting Model Predicts Surge In COVID-19 Hospitalizations

Jun 22, 2020
Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press

As COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations continue to record-breaking highs in North Texas, a UT- Southwestern model predicts a 20% jump in hospitalizations over the next two weeks.


One in five children in America are believed to have a mental health disorder. The reluctance to talk openly about it because of the stigma against such disorders can be the very thing standing in the way of  treatment.


As COVID-19 tests become more widely available, some confusion has arisen over which test to get: the viral diagnostic test or the antibody version.

Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press

As the Texas economy reopens and restrictions are lifted, the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Dallas County is increasing.


Parents usually keep watch on their child’s physical health. But they may not pay as much attention to mental health unless a specific problem has been diagnosed. A Dallas-area expert believes monitoring a child’s mental health is something you have to do each day.

Federal regulators are setting up a new three-digit number to reach a suicide prevention hotline in order to make it easier to seek help and reduce the stigma associated with mental health.
Associated Press

Elizabeth Conlin is thankful she started seeing a therapist before the coronavirus pandemic reached North Texas. This past fall, she began a type of treatment called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, or EMDR.

Bob Daemmrich / The Texas Tribune

The acting head of Texas’ massive health and human services bureaucracy, who is leading a 36,600 employee agency during a global pandemic, is also working a second job as the well-paid general manager of the Lower Colorado River Authority, a quasi-state agency — funded without state tax dollars — that provides water and electricity to more than a million Texans.

Lake Granbury Medical Center

The May 27 report from a healthcare research and policy team at Johns Hopkins University found 28 hospitals (22 in the state) have sued patients in Texas for unpaid hospital bills since 2018. Some saw their personal accounts and property garnished. 

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.

Parkland Health & Hospital System

A Parkland Health & Hospital System report last year found high rates of health disparities in certain ZIP codes in southeast Dallas. The report's co-author says those health disparities alone — along with bigger social distancing and job challenges — put those areas at high risk for coronavirus.

An electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
Associated Press

Doctors at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth are treating what’s considered a COVID-19-related inflammatory disease in children and adolescents.


As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expands its list of possible symptoms for COVID-19, health providers have been reporting  other problems in patients with the virus. A pulmonologist explores possible causes.

Shelby Tauber / Texas Tribune

Two weeks have passed since Gov. Greg Abbott allowed Texas retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, malls, museums and libraries to open at 25% capacity.

In that time, Texas has seen a modest but steady increase in the growth of new coronavirus cases, and the state is not meeting all benchmarks for reopening set by White House officials or even Abbott himself. The state set new daily records this week for both new cases and deaths.

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.”

Sanjuanita Magana walking past a line of cars.
David J. Phillip / Associated Press

The hundreds of contact tracers being trained in Texas’ most populous county will help it manage any flare ups of the coronavirus, but it doesn’t mean that things are back to normal and residents should still be doing their part to help stop the virus’ spread, officials said Wednesday.

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. 


As the state’s economy slowly reopens, many people are still at home with a lot of potential sedentary time on their hands. Exercise can be a useful way to pass some that time.

man stretching
LM Otero / Associated Press

Within the first month of its launch, the state’s new mental health support line received nearly 2,000 calls from Texans in 100 counties who were experiencing fears of getting sick, feelings of isolation from social distancing and anxiety over a crashing economy caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Marissa Hudler
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

It’s been more than a month since Marissa Hudler hugged her kids. Fearful of accidentally bringing the new coronavirus home, she and her husband — both health care workers — sent their two sons to stay at their grandparents’ house in March and don’t expect they’ll return for weeks.

An elderly couple walks down a hall in Easton, Pa.
Associated Press

It's been about two and a half years since Tricia Myers' family decided to move her 95-year-old mother into the Cottonwood Creek Healthcare Community in Richardson. Myers said her mother, who has dementia, needed round-the-clock care when her cognitive health began to decline.


A possible treatment for COVID-19, convalescent plasma therapy has yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. But hospitals like Baylor, Scott and White are allowed to use it on a compassionate or case-by-case basis.

A sign encouraging physical distancing
Eric Gay / Associated Press

Texas’ coronavirus death toll hit a single-day high of 50 on Thursday, just as the state was preparing for a slow reboot of one of the world’s largest economies by reopening retail, restaurants, malls and movies to limited amounts of customers.

Syeda Hasan

At Bangkok City Restaurant on Bryan Street, owner Janpen Thavoinkaew Canady and her husband, Philip Canady, have rearranged the dining room to seat a maximum of 16 customers. It's a steep drop from the usual crowd at the family-owned Thai restaurant, which has built a loyal customer base after more than 20 years in business.

Texas A&M University
Shelby Knowles / For The Texas Tribune

Texas A&M University System officials say they have the largest public laboratory capacity in the state to analyze tests for the new coronavirus. Only one problem: The labs are designed to serve animals, and university system officials say the federal government won’t let them use the facilities for human tests.

Harris County Health Department nurse Harriet Lewis administers a coronavirus test at Stallworth Stadium
Reggie Mathalon / For The Texas Tribune

In late January — while the world focused on the coronavirus in China — Cedrick Smith was in Houston issuing a warning to his Facebook friends.

sidewalk sign showing restaurant is open for take out.
Allison V. Smith / For KERA News

Is it safe to order food via take-out or delivery?

Unlike some germs, there’s no indication the coronavirus can spread through food, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


Daily updates on new cases of COVID-19 and deaths related to the illness often include people 65 and older. Why do the elderly tend to be more susceptible to viral infections?