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Video from CNN affiliate KWTX showed multiple police and fire crews on the scene where the building appeared to be

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exans weathering harsh winter conditions will get some relief from the cold on Saturday, although many in the state are still without basic utilities.

Saturday morning temperatures may be as low as 20 degrees for many inland locations, including Dallas and College Station, but the welcome return of onshore winds and full sunshine will warm the state into the 50’s and 60’s in the afternoon, said CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam. Most of the state will stay above freezing after that initial thaw.
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The brutal temperatures, ice and snow once caused millions of people in Texas to lose power, but as of early Saturday morning, only about 70,000 people in the state were left in the dark, according to Poweroutage.us, a website that tracks US power outages. However, more than 14.4 million people — half the state’s population — had reported disruptions in their water service in 192 of the state’s 254 counties as of Saturday afternoon, according to Gary Rasp, a spokesman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
By Saturday, Houston’s water system was at “normal operating pressure citywide” but a boil advisory remained in effect, according to Carol Haddock, Houston Public Works director. Mayor Sylvester Turner said the advisory could be lifted by Monday but warned that it “could be a day or two on either end.”

Cold temperatures to recede for Texas this weekend 01:30
Austin’s water utility said it was more than halfway to restoring minimum water pressure to serve the city. The system requires a minimum of 100 million gallons in storage and had more than 50 million gallons on Saturday morning, according to the water utility. City officials said service could be back by the end of the weekend.
President Joe Biden has approved a major disaster declaration for Texas, unlocking additional federal resources to assist the state’s recovery, the White House said in a statement Saturday.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the federal assistance “an important first step” but said it was a “partially” approved request. The Republican governor had requested both individual and public assistance for all 254 counties and the Biden administration approved individual assistance in 77 counties and public assistance in all counties, according to a statement from Abbott’s office.
Strangers took in a delivery driver for 5 days after she was stranded in the Texas storm
Strangers took in a delivery driver for 5 days after she was stranded in the Texas storm
The Public Utility Commission of Texas said Saturday it was investigating “factors that combined with the devastating winter weather to disrupt the flow of power to millions of Texas homes.”
Abbott convened an emergency meeting to look at what state officials said were “unreasonable spikes” in energy bills in the aftermath of the storm.
“It is unacceptable for Texans who suffered through days in the freezing cold without electricity or heat to now be hit with skyrocketing energy costs,” the governor said in a statement.
Texas mayor has lost faith in state political leaders
Larry Wallace, mayor of the city of Manor outside of Austin, told CNN Saturday that thousands in his city still had no electricity or water. He said he was frustrated with the poor communication from utility companies and state political leaders.
“I’ve lost all faith in senior leadership,” he said.
In Austin, Smita Pande told CNN she lost power to her home early in the week, and she and her husband stayed at a friend’s house until the water went out there, too. The group then traveled to another friend’s house that had operating utilities until their water supply failed as well. The three households returned to Pande’s home, where they relied on collecting snow to melt in order to flush their toilets.
Although power is now restored, Pande heard that the wait for water may last for a few days.
“At this point we’re planning on getting water in a week. We have to assume the worst-case scenario,” Pande told CNN’s Don Lemon in an interview Friday. “We’re hearing two or three days at this point. We’re going to hope for the best.”
Bottled ater is loaded into a vehicle at a city of Houston water distribution site Friday. The location provided bottled water to residents in need while the city remains on a boil water notice.
Bottled ater is loaded into a vehicle at a city of Houston water distribution site Friday. The location provided bottled water to residents in need while the city remains on a boil water notice.
Race to restore utilities
Austin resident Jenn Studebaker said power was back but her family slept around a fireplace they had never used to keep warm most of the week, using chairs and pieces of bookcases as fire wood. And they used melting snow in their bathtub for drinking water and filling up their toilet.
“Everyone is just thinking, If we can just make it one more day,” she said.
By Saturday afternoon, fewer than 10,000 power utility customers remained in the dark, compared to high of about 220,000 earlier in the week, according to city officials.
5 ways you can help those facing homelessness in the cold
5 ways you can help those facing homelessness in the cold
With burst pipes and power outages, Austin Mayor Steve Adler told CNN that his city needs water more than any other resource. When the power grid failed, it affected the main water treatment plant and the city’s reservoir was lost, Adler told CNN’s Poppy Harlow. Those that do have water are under boil water advisories.
“This is a community of people that are scared and upset and angry,” Adler said. “We’re eventually going to need some better answers to why we’re here and how we prevent it from ever happening again. But for right now we’re just trying to get water.”
Dr. Schuwan Dorsey told CNN she lost power and water early Monday in Houston and resorted to sleeping with her two dogs in her car, intermittently turning the engine on to generate heat.
Her Life Alert bracelet was offline because her home’s electricity was out, Dorsey also said.
“I was in danger with my health,” Dorsey said Friday, noting that her power was on for a mere three minutes on Wednesday. Electricity has since returned yet she still has no water.
Many hospitals across the state are strained as well, with no running water, burst pipes, low pressure and boil water notices, according to a statement from Carrie Williams, spokesperson for the Texas Hospital Association.
Marie Maybou melts snow on her kitchen stove in Austin on Friday. She is using the water to flush her home’s toilets after the city water stopped running.
Marie Maybou melts snow on her kitchen stove in Austin on Friday. She is using the water to flush her home’s toilets after the city water stopped running.
Williams said that there are also issues with staffing as some employees have had to stay on-site in order to care for patients, putting a strain on food, linens and water. Provisions and medication stocks ran low, although there are some supply trucks moving Friday, Williams said.
Dr. Richina Bicette, associate medical director at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said the weather caused “a completely harrowing experience” for her Texas hospital.
“We were not prepared at all,” she told CNN Saturday. “The guidance we got before the storm was that, you know, it would be cold, roads would freeze, don’t drive. There was no suspicion we would be without electricity, with below-freezing temperatures outside or that people would be without water.”
Bicette said patients arriving at the hospital included people burned in fires and entire families with carbon monoxide poisoning. Patients who missed dialysis treatments and others who relied on electric medical equipment are showing up at the emergency room “very, very sick.”
How one Texas town avoided disaster during the storm

How one Texas town avoided disaster during the storm 02:57
“Things are getting to be a little scary and a little dangerous, because, again, we’re having such a high influx of sick patients coming in,” she said. “There aren’t enough staff to take care of these patients right now.”
As residents of the city of Killeen, Texas, were under water conservation conditions Friday night, fire crews battled a blaze that tore through a Hilton Garden Inn near Fort Hood, according to a tweet from the Killeen Police Department.
Video from CNN affiliate KWTX showed multiple police and fire crews on the scene where the building appeared to be completely engulfed. CNN has contacted the Killeen Fire Department for additional details and is awaiting comment.
State leaders respond to water crisis
Water disruptions aren’t expected to go away once the freezing temperatures do: frozen pipes have burst, but many are concerned even more pipes will as they thaw.
To address the breaks, Abbott announced Friday that he is working with the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners. More than 320 plumbers have renewed their plumbing license, Abbott said, and the plumbing board is coordinating with out-of-state companies to bring more personnel to Texas.
‘Thank God for The Texas Tribune’: Power crisis shines light on local news
‘Thank God for The Texas Tribune’: Power crisis shines light on local news
“We know that there will be great demand for plumbers today, tomorrow … this weekend, in the coming days,” the governor said. “We want to make sure that we do everything we possibly can to help you gain access to the plumbers that you need to solve your plumbing and leakage problems along those lines.”
The state is also boosting the testing of local water systems by partnering with the federal government and neighboring Arkansas, Abbott announced Friday.
Working with the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has set up three mobile water testing labs, accord to Abbott.

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Trump and the extent to which, following Jan. 6, I don’t think he should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country.”

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When the annual Conservative Political Action Conference — CPAC for short — kicks off Thursday in Orlando, Fla., it might as well be called TPAC.

That’s because this year, it is all about Trump.

The former president will headline the event with a Sunday afternoon keynote address, his first speech since leaving office last month.

It comes as the Republican Party is struggling with its identity after Donald Trump’s presidency. And yet CPAC, the largest gathering of conservative activists in the U.S., will still very much be a pro-Trump event.
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The conference, organized and sponsored by the American Conservative Union, will even keep alive Trump’s false claims of election fraud with several panels on the topic with names like “Other Culprits: Why Judges & Media Refused to Look at the Evidence,” “The Left Pulled the Strings, Covered It Up, and Even Admits It” and “Failed States (PA, GA, NV, oh my!).”

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“We’re going to spend a lot of time looking at what happened in these states,” Matt Schlapp, chairman of the ACU, said on CNN this week. Schlapp claimed to have “proof” of “widespread voter fraud in the last election,” yet presented none on air.

He went on to say that “Joe Biden is my president” and that “he won the election,” but then pivoted, raising suspicion: “That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t voter fraud and voter irregularity in the last election.”

Schlapp — a lobbyist and husband of Mercedes Schlapp, who worked in the Trump White House — is walking the same line other Republicans have been, between the truth and conspiracies that are popular with Trump and his base.

CPAC didn’t used to be so MAGA. In fact, Trump snubbed the conference in 2016 after a dispute over speech ground rules and wanting him to answer questions at the event.

Five years later, though, the political world — as well as the grassroots conservative movement — has changed substantially.

And, now, at this annual cattle call, there’s no penning Trump in.

Trump put the 2024 field on ice — and he likes it that way

In his speech, Trump is expected to draw distinctions with President Biden, particularly when it comes to immigration, which was an animating issue for the GOP base during Trump’s political tenure.

He is also expected to speak about the future of the Republican Party, and he very much wants to be seen as not just a player but the player — the “presumptive 2024 nominee,” in fact, as Axios reports.

Trump’s dangling of running again has effectively frozen the GOP field. CPAC has, for decades, been a place where presidential hopefuls have tested out their messages and possible depth of support.

A handful of would-be presidential hopefuls will be on hand this year, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, as well as Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri.

They are in an awkward holding pattern, but while ambitious potential candidates might want Trump out of the way, they want his voters even more.

That’s why people like former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations, tried to meet with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida home, to make sure they’re still on good terms.

But after Haley was critical of the former president in a recent profile, Trump reportedly turned down the meeting. As of Wednesday evening, Haley is not on the CPAC speakers list.

Former Vice President Mike Pence, seen here after arriving back in his hometown of Columbus, Ind., on Jan. 20, has declined an invitation to speak at CPAC.
Michael Conroy/AP
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who also very much has presidential ambitions, was targeted by the mob of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“Hang Mike Pence!” some chanted, as he presided over a usually ceremonial counting of the electoral votes.

Pence had to be escorted out of the Capitol for his safety, but even as the riot was unfolding, Trump lashed out at Pence on Twitter (where Trump is now banned). He said Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done” to overturn the election results — something Pence had no real power to do.

Still, despite reported tension between the two following Jan. 6, Pence told former congressional colleagues this week that he and Trump maintain a good relationship. He told them he’s forming a political organization that will defend the work of their administration.

But Pence declined an invitation to speak at CPAC.

Trump’s lofty status and an event that has changed — a lot

CPAC has taken on many different forms over the years.

To show just how much it has changed recently, consider that in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2012, Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, was the crowd favorite, winning the conference’s straw poll each of those four years.

But the now-Utah senator — who has been a vocal Trump critic and voted for Trump’s conviction on impeachment charges twice — is persona non grata at this Trumpy variation of CPAC.

There was also a strong libertarian strain, particularly among young attendees. Either former Texas Rep. Ron Paul or his son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, were the picks of the CPAC crowd in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015. But that is all but gone. Rand Paul declined an invitation to this year’s conference, as he has in recent years.

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That Trump retains in this lofty perch within the Republican Party is somewhat remarkable. When he came into office, the party controlled all the levers of power in Washington — the House, the Senate and, with his election, the White House.

Now, it controls none.

Part of how Trump has retained his hold on the rank and file is by convincing tens of millions of them that the election was stolen from him.

Trump went on a months-long disinformation campaign discrediting Biden’s victory. His inaccurate fraud claims and conspiracy theories were disproved by dozens of courts, but the depth of support for his false grievance was made plain by the thousands of his flag-waving supporters who participated in the Jan. 6 violence.

There was no peaceful transfer of power, and Trump has yet to acknowledge that he lost fair and square. For months, Trump was also enabled by elected Republican leaders who knew better and later acknowledged that Biden won legitimately.

That includes Republican leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. They seemed to be hoping that if they gave Trump room to protest the election results through the courts, then he would come around once there were rulings.

That never happened. Instead, Trump dug in, abetted by conservative media, which amplified and gave traction to his false claims.

After Jan. 6, McConnell publicly rebuked Trump, blaming him for the riot. That landed McConnell in a very public feud with the most popular person in his party.

McCarthy — who has done head-snapping reversals over the years when it comes to Trump — first went McConnell’s path, saying Trump “bears responsibility” for the Capitol violence. But he quickly reversed course, making up with Trump in a fence-mending trip to Mar-a-Lago.

On Wednesday, McCarthy was asked if he believes Trump should be speaking at CPAC. “Yes, he should,” McCarthy said during a news conference on Capitol Hill.

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney — who is in House GOP leadership but voted for Trump’s impeachment — was then asked for her view.

“That’s up to CPAC,” Cheney said. “I’ve been clear in my views about President Trump and the extent to which, following Jan. 6, I don’t think he should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country.”

“On that high note, thank you all very much,” McCarthy said to laughs, as he walked off.

McCarthy participates in a panel Saturday afternoon at CPAC on “Winning Back America.” Neither McConnell nor Cheney will be appearing.

CPAC has also shown a willingness to exclude not just those who don’t line up with Trump but also some with odious and controversial views.

It’s ironic, considering this year’s CPAC theme is “America Uncanceled,” but after a left-leaning watchdog group found that one listed speaker had made anti-Semitic comments, he was disinvited.

The speaker was offended and accused CPAC of the same thing conservatives often say of Big Tech companies and universities.

“I feel like I’m being silenced,” he said. “I feel like my rights are being violated. Basically I’m being censored.”

Conservatives have complained that social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook, are biased because they have banned or removed content.

Posts have been removed because the sites determined they were false or misleading or promoted conspiracies that could lead to violence — the kind of conspiracies that went mainstream during Trump’s presidency and led to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

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Prevention guidelines and “certainly they meet those requirements set by our federal standard,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

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The Biden administration is planning to distribute millions of free face masks across the country to organizations serving people with low incomes, in a fresh effort to tamp down Covid-19 spread within vulnerable populations.

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“It allows people who are not able to in some situations find or afford a mask, to get a mask, and is part of our equity strategy,” White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said, estimating the cost of supplying the masks at about $86 million.
President Joe Biden plans to distribute millions of face masks to Americans in communities hard-hit by the coronavirus beginning next month as part of his efforts to ensure “equity” in the government’s response to the pandemic.

Biden, who like Donald Trump’s administration considered sending masks to all Americans, is instead adopting a more conservative approach, aiming to reach underserved communities and those bearing the brunt of the outbreak. Trump’s administration shelved the plans entirely.

Biden’s plan will distribute masks not through the mail, but instead through Federally Qualified Community Health Centers and the nation’s food bank and food pantry systems, the White House announced Wednesday.

The Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture will be involved in the distribution of more than 25 million American-made cloth masks in both adult and kid sizes. The White House estimates they will reach 12 million to 15 million people.

“Not all Americans are wearing masks regularly, not all have access, and not all masks are equal,” said White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients.

The White House is not distributing safer N95 masks, of which the U.S. now has abundant supply after shortages early in the pandemic.

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The cloth masks adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and “certainly they meet those requirements set by our federal standard,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Biden hinted at the move Tuesday during a virtual roundtable discussion Tuesday with four essential workers who are Black, saying he expected his administration to send millions of masks to people around the country “very shortly.”

Biden has asked all Americans to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his term, pointing to models showing it could help save 50,000 lives. He also required mask-wearing in federal buildings and on public transportation in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

In late January, a Quinnipiac poll showed that 75% of Americans said they wear a mask all the time when they go out in public and are around others, and an additional 12% said they wear a mask most of the time.

Biden has made a virtue of his public displays of mask-wearing, drawing direct contrast with Trump, who only rarely was seen covering his face while president. Biden has also required the use of masks around the White House, unlike Trump, whose White House was the scene of at least three outbreaks of the virus.

Psaki suggested earlier this month that logistical concerns underpinned the decision to scale back the plans to send masks to all Americans.

“I think there are some underlying questions about how you target them — the masks — where they go to first; obviously, it couldn’t happen immediately,” she said.

Associated Press writer Hannah Fingurhut contributed to this report.
Why it matters: The initiative comes nearly a year after Trump administration health officials first internally explored whether to send masks to every American in hopes of slowing the virus’ spread — an idea that was rejected at the time.

Public health experts have since pushed for reviving the concept as a way of reaching underserved communities and emphasizing the importance of mask wearing. Those advocates included members of President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board, who had sketched out rough plans for what masks the government should send and how it should deliver them to the entire U.S. population, according to a person familiar with the conversations.

Zients on Wednesday said such a sweeping initiative would have been a “good idea” months ago, but he noted that masks are now widely available for most people.

The administration’s initiative will be more limited by comparison, with plans to distribute the cloth masks among roughly 1,300 health centers and 300 food banks. About two-thirds of people served by community health centers are living in poverty, the administration said.

Continue Reading

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communities and emphasizing the importance of mask wearing. Those advocates included members of President Joe Biden’s Covid-19

Published

on

The Biden administration is planning to distribute millions of free face masks across the country to organizations serving people with low incomes, in a fresh effort to tamp down Covid-19 spread within vulnerable populations.

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The federal government will soon begin sending more than 25 million masks to community health centers, food pantries and soup kitchens, the administration said on Wednesday, with the goal of reaching as many as 15 million people with low incomes beginning in March and continuing through May.
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“It allows people who are not able to in some situations find or afford a mask, to get a mask, and is part of our equity strategy,” White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said, estimating the cost of supplying the masks at about $86 million.
President Joe Biden plans to distribute millions of face masks to Americans in communities hard-hit by the coronavirus beginning next month as part of his efforts to ensure “equity” in the government’s response to the pandemic.

Biden, who like Donald Trump’s administration considered sending masks to all Americans, is instead adopting a more conservative approach, aiming to reach underserved communities and those bearing the brunt of the outbreak. Trump’s administration shelved the plans entirely.

Biden’s plan will distribute masks not through the mail, but instead through Federally Qualified Community Health Centers and the nation’s food bank and food pantry systems, the White House announced Wednesday.

The Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture will be involved in the distribution of more than 25 million American-made cloth masks in both adult and kid sizes. The White House estimates they will reach 12 million to 15 million people.

“Not all Americans are wearing masks regularly, not all have access, and not all masks are equal,” said White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients.

The White House is not distributing safer N95 masks, of which the U.S. now has abundant supply after shortages early in the pandemic.

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The cloth masks adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and “certainly they meet those requirements set by our federal standard,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Biden hinted at the move Tuesday during a virtual roundtable discussion Tuesday with four essential workers who are Black, saying he expected his administration to send millions of masks to people around the country “very shortly.”

Biden has asked all Americans to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his term, pointing to models showing it could help save 50,000 lives. He also required mask-wearing in federal buildings and on public transportation in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

In late January, a Quinnipiac poll showed that 75% of Americans said they wear a mask all the time when they go out in public and are around others, and an additional 12% said they wear a mask most of the time.

Biden has made a virtue of his public displays of mask-wearing, drawing direct contrast with Trump, who only rarely was seen covering his face while president. Biden has also required the use of masks around the White House, unlike Trump, whose White House was the scene of at least three outbreaks of the virus.

Psaki suggested earlier this month that logistical concerns underpinned the decision to scale back the plans to send masks to all Americans.

“I think there are some underlying questions about how you target them — the masks — where they go to first; obviously, it couldn’t happen immediately,” she said.

Associated Press writer Hannah Fingurhut contributed to this report.
Why it matters: The initiative comes nearly a year after Trump administration health officials first internally explored whether to send masks to every American in hopes of slowing the virus’ spread — an idea that was rejected at the time.

Public health experts have since pushed for reviving the concept as a way of reaching underserved communities and emphasizing the importance of mask wearing. Those advocates included members of President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board, who had sketched out rough plans for what masks the government should send and how it should deliver them to the entire U.S. population, according to a person familiar with the conversations.

Zients on Wednesday said such a sweeping initiative would have been a “good idea” months ago, but he noted that masks are now widely available for most people.

The administration’s initiative will be more limited by comparison, with plans to distribute the cloth masks among roughly 1,300 health centers and 300 food banks. About two-thirds of people served by community health centers are living in poverty, the administration said.

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