Veronica Zaragovia

State Reporter

Veronica Zaragovia reports on state government for KUT. She's reported as a legislative relief news person with the Associated Press in South Dakota and has contributed reporting to NPR, PRI's The World, Here & Now and Latino USA, the Agence France Presse, TIME in Hong Kong and PBS NewsHour, among others. She has two degrees from Columbia University, and has dedicated much of her adult life to traveling, learning languages and drinking iced coffee. 

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Callie Richmond/Texas Tribune

The rate of infant mortality in Texas is almost six per 1,000 births, but the infant mortality rate for the black population statewide and in Travis County is twice as high, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Health officials in Texas are trying to reduce the rates with a new statewide partnership to close that gap.

KUT News

Faculty members at the University of Texas at Austin have approved a measure calling for banning guns in classrooms, labs, dorms and university offices under the state’s campus carry law.

The law, SB 11, goes into effect in August of next year. People with concealed handgun licenses will be able to carry a gun on a campus, as they already can, but schools can set some limits to where exactly they can bring them in. The UT Faculty Council says it doesn’t want them in classrooms. UT Professor Carolyn Brown at the College of Pharmacy is a member of the Council and says she and her colleagues voted unanimously to oppose guns in education spaces.

KUT News

The U.S. Supreme Court will review a case next year that challenges a Texas abortion measure signed into law in 2013. Justices will use what’s called the undue burden test to decide whether the law’s requirements are constitutional or not.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

There's a simple way to protect against severe spinal cord birth defects: You can eat a bowl of cereal. If the cereal was processed in the U.S., it's been fortified with folic acid, and getting about 400 micrograms of folic acid everyday can help prevent those birth defects.

Most U.S. cereals have 100 percent of the daily value, but products made from corn masa flour are not fortified, because the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t allow it.

Some groups are trying to change this and get corn flour masa included.

Sarah Jasmine Montgomery/KUT

Most cancer survivors disclose their health history in job interviews, according to researchers at Rice and Penn State Universities. And, researchers have found that if cancer survivors talk about their cancer history when seeking a retail job, they’re less likely to get a callback from the store manager.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Think Killeen, Texas, and the U.S. Army post Fort Hood probably comes to mind.

The military facility was created in 1942, and it's been the town's most defining feature. But as millions of soldiers have flowed in and out of Fort Hood over the years, an interesting food culture has sprouted outside its gates.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Recreation centers in Austin are still open through Sunday to help people with shelter, supplies and questions about their properties.

At the Dove Springs Recreation Center earlier this week, Leona Albrecht, her husband and six kids were sitting down eating a meal donated by a church group. Their apartment near the Onion Creek Bridge was flooded late last week.

"We probably lost half to three fourths of the house, and at the moment, no way to replace it," Albrecht says. "All we can do is just trash everything."

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman/TexasTribune

Doctors in Austin are trying to urgently match five-year-old Leland with a new kidney. He’s on dialysis, and in the highest and most urgent category of patients needing a new organ.

His situation is an example of the pressing need for organ donors in Texas and across the U.S.

Pu Ying Huang/KUT

The recent news from the World Health Organization about processed meats and red meats – and associated cancer risks – might have you thinking about your diet. One group that’s probably not affected: vegans.

Vegans don’t eat anything that involves animals. No meat. No dairy or eggs. Many even avoid honey, too.

For a long time, they were considered extremist vegetarians living on the fringe, but that’s begun to change. In Austin, some vegan products are so popular, chain grocery stores can’t even keep them in stock. 

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Yet again, homeowners in the Onion Creek area spent Saturday cleaning up after torrential rains flooded their homes, for the second time since the Halloween floods of 2013. And this time around, some residents are losing patience.

That includes homeowners like Jose Vara, who was feeling angry as he stood outside his home wearing tall black rubber boots. His house got about six inches of water inside. From the door you could see mud all over the house floor. 

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

An Austin-based nonprofit that helps people sign up for health insurance is teaming up with another group that helps musicians access low-cost medical care. Foundation Communities will work with the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, or HAAM, to get more Austin musicians insured during the upcoming enrollment period for plans on the federal marketplace.


Researchers are in Austin this week for the International Conference on Neural Tube Defects. It coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act — a law that led to the U.S. government acknowledging a link between folic acid deficiency during pregnancy and neural tube defects, like spina bifida.

The law also led to mandatory enrichment of certain foods with folic acid, but not all foods — particularly, tortillas. 

Ransom Center via YouTube

The archives of Gabriel García Márquez, the Nobel Prize-winning Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist, are now open to the public and they’re located here in the capital city, at the University of Texas at Austin's Harry Ransom Center.

Dennis Nauert

Austin has a new and bigger dental clinic for patients living with HIV and AIDS. The new Central Austin location can serve 1,600 patients within a 10-county service area.

Paul Scott, the executive director of AIDS Services of Austin, says an oral health indicator is usually a first sign that something’s going on related to an HIV infection.

How much does the layout of a neighborhood affect the health of the people who live in it?  That’s a question researchers at Texas A&M will try to answer by taking a closer look at the Mueller Development in Austin. They’ll do so with a $2.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

KUT News

Austin Mayor Steve Adler is among those calling on Texas state leaders to drop a lawsuit over President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration.

Pu Ying-Huang/KUT News

An economics professor at the University of Texas says he won’t return to teach next fall because of the state’s new campus carry law.

Microeconomics Professor Daniel Hamermesh says he only planned to stay at UT-Austin for a couple more fall semesters anyway, but he says getting new professors to come here will be the problem.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Jews celebrate Simchat Torah today. This festive holiday marks the end of the annual cycle of Torah readings and starts off the new cycle.

Jews in Austin just recently got two historic Torah scrolls to read from. The scrolls, along with a 19th century synagogue, came from a disappearing Jewish community in Brenham.

Liang Shi for KUT

One of the most conservative groups in Texas is calling on the state to expand Medicaid – a government-run health care program for low-income people. The Affordable Care Act offers states federal dollars to expand Medicaid, but the U.S. Supreme Court made expansion optional and Texas political leaders have decided not to expand.  

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

An abortion clinic in El Paso has reopened and resumed scheduling appointments after closing in April of 2014.

This clinic is a plaintiff in a case that could go before the Supreme Court in a lawsuit involving state restrictions on abortion facilities and doctors passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013 and adopted into law the same year.