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. 

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?

AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias

When Kate Mackley and her family began hearing news of the coronavirus pandemic, they worried for her mother, Karla Mackley, who was 93.

"You know, that worry did play out," Kate Mackley said. "She passed away from COVID, and she passed away actually very quickly."

Workers at a mobile coronavirus testing site in Fulton, north of Corpus Christi.
Eddie Seal / For The Texas Tribune

A coastal community with no health department, hospital or urgent care clinics received a welcome visitor Thursday: a mobile testing site that rolled into Aransas County to help screen Texans for the new coronavirus.

A photo of Annie Quasnitschka, decked out in personal protective equipment and carrying a portable ventilator, says she hopes the worst is over in New York. She's been there since the end of March treating patients with COVID-19.
Courtesy of Annie Quasnitschka

Annie Quasnitschka was supposed to start her new job in March. She’d left her job at JPS Hospital in Fort Worth, and was planning a new life as a traveling freelancing nurse anesthetist. She’d landed her first contract. Then, all elective surgeries were cancelled.

LM Otero / Associated Press

Dallas County’s stay-at-home order has been extended until May 15.

Dallas County Commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday. Judge Clay Jenkins and commissioners Theresa Daniel and Elba Garcia voted in favor. Commissioners J.J. Koch and John Wiley Price voted against.

Associated Press

The Texas Department of Health Services recently shipped an unproven treatment for coronavirus to at least 70 hospitals across the state. Doctors there think hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine might work. But the North Texas Poison Center at Parkland Hospital is concerned some people may try to use them without medical supervision.

The middle of an economic downturn may seem like an odd time to debut a new iPhone, but Apple on Wednesday announced its latest model — a cheaper, smaller version that may just fit with the times.

The new iPhone SE features a new and improved processor and camera. But for the most part, it looks and feels like models of yore. With a smaller size and screen, it is nearly as compact as the iPhone 6, which launched in 2014. It also features the home button that disappeared in the most recent models.

Update (5/2): The Food and Drug Administration has granted an emergency approval for remdesivir as a treatment for severely ill patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The antiviral medication prevents the virus from replicating itself.

new Harris County Non-Congregate Medical Shelter
David J. Phillip / Associated Press

Texas continued this weekend to brace for a surge in hospital visits driven by the coronavirus pandemic as the state’s death toll rose to more than 250.

Officials in Harris County unveiled a temporary overflow hospital that will be able to help take on patients during a heightened onslaught of COVID-19. Medical workers and journalists were taken on a tour of the as-yet-unopened facility on the day the U.S. eclipsed Italy for the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world, surpassing 20,000.

Pat Marmo, owner of Daniel J. Schaefer Funeral Home, walks through a viewing room set up to respect social distancing, Thursday, April 2, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
John Minchillo / Associated Press

Coppell resident Jason Dyke is used to having the tough conversations most people never want to think about. He's the president of Carson's Village, a nonprofit that provides free help to families facing the sudden death of a loved one.

The Tomball nursing home near Houston
Michael Stravato / For The Texas Tribune

More than 160 of the state's 1,222 nursing homes, or about 13%, have at least one case of the new coronavirus, state officials said Thursday. And 38 nursing home residents and staff members have died of COVID-19 statewide.