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Texans now face a water crisis. Plus Democrats prepare for Covid relief battle

Thousands of Texans were under notices to boil tap water before drinking it after days of record low temperatures caused blackouts and frozen water pipes.
Image: Texas weather, loading forewood
Sara Castillo loads firewood into her car in Dallas, on Tuesday. Some Texans posted videos on social media of them burning old furniture to stay warm as power outages continue through the week. LM Otero / AP

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Today we look at the emerging water crisis spurred by the extreme weather facing millions of Texans. Plus the Democrats' latest push for President Biden's Covid-19 relief bill.

Here is what we're following this Thursday morning.


Texas water shortage adds to power crisis as new winter storm moves in

As large parts of Texas wake up to another day of a power crisis amid still-frigid winter weather, issues with water systems have added to the misery for much of the state's population.

Scores of Texans were under notices to boil tap water before drinking it after days of record low temperatures that damaged infrastructure, caused blackouts and froze water pipes. And another storm is on the way.

Prominent conservative politicians and media personalities were quick to blame renewable energy for the state's energy crisis. But experts and industry data suggest that natural gas, Texas' dominant energy source, has provided drastically less energy than expected.

Texans have become increasingly desperate for help, seeking shelter in churches and burning furniture to generate heat. A Houston resident resorted to melting snow for water and lighting birthday candles to get some light into her home.

The storms have played a role in at least 35 deaths in eight states.


Democrats prepare for Covid relief battle as U.S. life expectancy plunges

While the American public were watching an impeachment trial, Democratic-led committees were quietly advancing President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill, hoping to deliver a bill to his desk by their self-imposed mid-March deadline.

Biden's push for Covid-19 assistance comes as life expectancy in the U.S. experienced its biggest drop since World War II in the first half of 2020 — a staggering figure highlighting the pandemic's toll on American lives.

Should the bill reach the Senate, Democrats will need to keep all 50 of their senators on board as they're unlikely to get bipartisan support. The biggest intra-party fight is likely to be over the minimum wage.


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Plus


THINK about it

The discovery of signs of life on Mars would permanently change humanity’s view of its own importance, writes Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI institute, in an opinion piece.

Watch live: The NASA Perseverance rover is expected to land on Mars after a seven month journey around 5:30pm ET.


Live BETTER

Some people are considering forming "immunity bubbles," a new twist on pandemic pods, as a safe way to interact with vaccinated peers.


Shopping

Doctors share expert tips and guidance on how to buy safe and effective hand sanitizer — a quick-to-sell-out staple since the pandemic took hold.


Tune in tonight


One fun thing

The winter storm that has brought historic cold to Texas is also being felt by wild animals. At least 2,500 cold-stunned sea turtles have been rescued on South Padre Island, Texas, and transported to warmer facilities for critical care.


Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

I'm filling in for Petra Cahill while she takes a week off. If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — send me an email at: yasmine.salam@nbcuni.com.

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Thanks, Yasmine Salam