Drivers urged to be alert as school begins
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Millions of Texas children are heading back to school this month, as early as this week in some districts. The Texas Department of Transportation urges drivers to be especially alert and focused when driving in school zones and near bus stops.
Drivers are further reminded that a new Texas law requires drivers to stop and yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, according to TxDOT. The Lisa Torry Smith Act is named after a young mother killed in Missouri City in a crosswalk as she walked her son to school. The driver received a $50 fine for failing to yield, according to numerous media reports.
Now it’s a crime punishable with up to two years in prison.
Wildfire dangers continue in the dog days
As the summer heat and dry conditions persist, so does the danger of wildfire. The Texas A&M Forest Service reported 10 active wildfires across the state as of Sunday. The largest fire at 3,323 acres in Throckmorton County was 90% contained. The Big Sky Fire in Gillespie County had consumed 1,459 acres and was also 90% contained.
Burn bans are now in force in 225 Texas counties, according to the forest service. Only El Paso County and a portion of neighboring Hudspeth County are not under some level of drought throughout the entire state.
Grants available for underserved communities
The Texas Department of State Health Services is seeking grant applications for $20 million dedicated to health centers in areas where resources are scarce and access to adequate health care can be challenging. The funding came from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, and the Texas Legislature approved funneling it to federally qualified health centers (FQHC).
“Federally Qualified Health Centers are a valuable support for people who need essential medical care but live in areas where resources are scarce and access can be challenging,” said State Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville. “Once they are up and running, they operate without local or state financial support. These grants are intended to bridge the gap between start-up cost and full certification to enable the program to expand in Texas.”
Open enrollment is available until Dec. 31 or until program funding is exhausted. More information is available on the DSHS website: dshs.texas.gov.
New COVID-19 cases
The number of new COVID-19 cases in Texas during the past week rose slightly to 78,845, with 244 deaths reported by the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University.
DSHS reports 3,490 lab-confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations, a slight drop from the previous week.
DSHS also reports 17.9 million Texans are fully vaccinated, or 60.6% of the state’s population, while 7.3 million have received at least one booster shot.