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. 

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.

Jordan Vonderhaar / The Texas Tribune

Accurate and up-to-date coronavirus data is critical — not just for informing the officials making policy, but for parents trying to decide whether to send their kids to day care and business owners wondering whether to reopen their stores.

Woman holding throat.

Sore throat is a common ailment, but it’s also now included among symptoms for COVID 19.

Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press

Amid the chaos of the pandemic’s early days, doctors who faced the first coronavirus onslaught reached across oceans and language barriers in an unprecedented effort to advise colleagues trying to save lives in the dark.

mural of nurse posed like Rosie the Riveter
LM Otero / Associated Press

During the coronavirusa pandemic, the number of people screening themselves for anxiety or depression has skyrocketed. 


In addition to those at high risk for the virus, new screening guidelines call for all adults, 18 and older, to have the blood test at least once in their lifetime. Also, pregnant women during each pregnancy.

If Justice Paul Green left office just 10 days sooner, his vacancy would be filled by voters in the November general election.
Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune

Paul Green, a Republican Texas Supreme Court justice of 15 years, said this week that he is retiring from the high court Aug. 31. But if he left office just 10 days sooner, his vacancy would be filled by voters in the November general election.

mural of nurse posed like Rosie the Riveter
LM Otero / Associated Press

New research from the University of North Texas Health Science Center shows wearing masks is a highly effective way to bring COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations down. 


One Fort Worth-area ambulance service says it has responded to about 100% more cardiac arrests this month than it did in July of 2019.

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.


As the coronavirus surge continues, there’s another virus to watch for now: West Nile. Dallas County’s already spraying for the mosquito-borne disease and a number of its symptoms are similar to COVID-19.

David J. Phillip / Associated Press

Hospitals in Houston, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley are struggling to keep up with the constant and growing flow of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. And many hospitals are reaching full capacity while making preparations on how to treat an overflow of patients.

Twitter says a total of 130 accounts were hacked in some fashion during a cybersecurity breach on Wednesday that affected some of its most prominent users, including Joe Biden and Kanye West.

E-billboard advising social distancing.
Keren Carrión / KERA News

As a single mother with multiple high-risk jobs, Dallas resident Amy Wynn has known many emotional challenges.

Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press

The constant stream of pandemic news can make it challenging to find information on North Texas coronavirus testing. Here's a guide to help you figure out where to go, what symptoms to look out for and different types of testing available before you venture out.

Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital

Texas Health Harris Methodist in Fort Worth has become the first hospital in North Texas to use a robotic-assisted technology called Ion to biopsy potential tumors earlier than traditional diagnostic tests allow.

Person submitting swab at coronavirus testing facility.
Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press

The next two weeks are a critical time for North Texas hospitals. Facilities may have to implement surge plans to increase the number of available beds, said Stephen Love, president and CEO of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council.

Shelby Tauber / The Texas Tribune

Texans remain focused on the coronavirus pandemic and are less optimistic about returning the state to normal quickly, according to polling by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas.

May-Ying Lam / The Texas Tribune

Local officials and experts in Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Fort Worth have expressed concerns in recent days that increasing coronavirus hospitalizations could overwhelm their intensive care capacities, with some saying it could happen in less than two weeks.


Pregnant women aren’t considered at higher risk for getting the coronavirus, but it raises other concerns about a safe delivery.


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.