Report card

See where Texas falls among best states, according to a recent report

We're more so the worst than the best, a study finds. Photo by gguy44/Getty Images

How does Texas measure up to the rest of the United States? A new study comparing the 50 U.S. states in terms of healthcare, education, the economy, and numerous other factors shows that we aren't the worst state in the country, but we're certainly not the best, either.

Texas ranks 38th overall in U.S. News & World Report's best states rankings for 2019, down two spots from 2018. Washington takes the top spot, while Louisiana has the misfortune of being in last place.

For the study, U.S. News asked Americans "how satisfied they were with various state government services and where they thought their state governments should focus resources." The site took those results and rated each state on the areas above, as well as infrastructure, opportunity, fiscal stability, crime and corrections, and natural environment. The most weight was given to healthcare, followed by education.

The Lone Star State, which is home to many notable companies (AT&T, Southwest Airlines, Whole Foods, Dell, and others), ranks best in fiscal stability (No. 12) and economy (No. 15).

America's oil boom in the early 1900s transformed Texas, and the state continues to be a key player in the industry, as well as a leading destination for business, the study explains.

"Texas' diverse industrial base has drawn many businesses and workers in recent decades because of light regulation, low taxes and a low cost of labor," U.S. News says. "Entrepreneurs are particularly attracted to Austin, which emerged as a major player in the technology industry in the 1990s. Its 'South by Southwest' is one of the preeminent national tech conferences."

What else is working in Texas? "Traditionally, agriculture has been among the state's largest industries, and it produces the most livestock and livestock product in the country," the study adds. "The state also is a leader in export revenues, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Other industries driving growth include business, education and health, hospitality and manufacturing."

Texas, however, could stand to improve in many areas: infrastructure (33), crime and corrections (33), education (34), healthcare (37), opportunity (39), and natural environment (40).

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Houston-based imaware, which has an at-home COVID-19 testing process, is working with Texas A&M University on researching how the virus affects the human body. Getty Images

An ongoing medical phenomenon is determining how COVID-19 affects people differently — especially in terms of severity. A new partnership between a Houston-based digital health platform and Texas A&M University is looking into differences in individual risk factors for the virus.

Imaware, which launched its at-home coronavirus testing kit in April, is using its data and information collected from the testing process for this new study on how the virus affects patients differently.

"As patient advocates, we want to aid in the search to understand more about why some patients are more vulnerable than others to the deadly complications of COVID-19," says Jani Tuomi, co-founder of imaware, in a press release. "Our current sample collection process is an efficient way to provide longitudinal prospectively driven data for research and to our knowledge, is the only such approach that is collecting, assessing, and biobanking specimens in real time."

Imaware uses a third-party lab to conduct the tests at patients' homes following the Center for Disease Control's guidelines and protocol. During the test, the medical professional takes additional swabs for the study. The test is then conducted by Austin-based Wheel, a telemedicine group.

Should the patient receive positive COVID-19 results, they are contacted by a representative of Wheel with further instructions. They are also called by a member of a team led by Dr. Rebecca Fischer, an infectious disease expert and epidemiologist and laboratory scientist at the Texas A&M University School of Public Health, to grant permission to be a part of the study.

Once a part of the study, the patient remains in contact with Fischer's team, which tracks the spread and conditions of the virus in the patient. One thing the researchers are looking for is the patients' responses to virus complications caused by an overabundance of cytokines, according to the press release. Cytokines are proteins in the body that fight viruses and infections, and, if not working properly, they can "trigger an over-exuberant inflammatory response" that can cause potentially deadly issues with lung and organ failure or worse, per the release.

"We believe strongly in supporting this research, as findings from the field can be implemented to improve clinical processes-- helping even more patients," says Wheel's executive medical director, Dr. Rafid Fadul.

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