Christopher Collins

Christopher Collins is an investigative journalist based in Abilene. The Wichita Falls native graduated from Midwestern State University in 2012 with a degree in Mass Communication. He previously has worked as a reporter at the Abilene Reporter-News and the Wichita Falls Times Record News, along with running a freelance reporting business. He is an associate editor at the Observer. He previously was a staff writer covering rural Texas. He can be reached on Twitter or at [email protected]

By Christopher Collins:

An American and Texas flag fly from the tops of cranes near an oil rig by the site where President Donald Trump delivered remarks about American energy production during a visit to the Double Eagle Energy Oil Rig, Wednesday, July 29, 2020, in Midland, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Texas Politics

Rural Voters Stepped on the Gas for Trump Across the Texas Oil Patch

Even in Democratic strongholds, some voters in the state’s vast shale plays were afraid of Joe Biden’s energy platform.

Once again, rural Texans voted en masse for President Donald Trump in 2020. Joe Biden spent no time campaigning in Texas and thus failed to reach the large swath of counties populated by some of the most conservative voters in … Read More

Health Care

A West Texas Nursing Home Sent Its COVID-Positive Residents Elsewhere. Now Two of Them Are Dead.

Texas allows nursing homes to voluntarily accept COVID-positive patients from hospitals and other nursing homes. But there are no additional safeguards for the people sent there, and some of the facilities have a history of breaking rules.

John Wayne McDermett used to manage nursing homes. Now he lives in one. After serving 12 years as a rural county judge and working a stint as a disc jockey at a country radio station, the Texas native switched careers … Read More

A wild horse led police on an hourslong chase through North Lubbock on July 11.
Culture, News, Strangest State, The Issue

Strangest State: Mysterious Seeds and a Longhorn on the Moon

Weird news from far-flung Texas.

LUBBOCK // A wild horse led police on an hourslong chase through North Lubbock on July 11. The mare was adopted as part of a longstanding federal initiative to give wild horses and burros a new home, but the animal … Read More

Health Care

One of Texas’ Biggest Nursing Home Operators Beset By COVID-19 Cases and Deaths

New data released by the state health agency provides a glimpse into the infections, deaths, and recoveries at Texas nursing homes.

As COVID-19 spread across Texas in March, it became clear that the virus would batter the state’s 1,200 or so nursing homes, where some of the most vulnerable Texans were crammed together in largely understaffed, unprotected facilities. Five months later, … Read More

A nurse with a mask holds a life preserve.
Health Care

Texas Nursing Home Residents Were Already at Risk. Then COVID-19 Hit.

A management company with a poor record of infection control is linked to COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes across Texas.

When Gary Blake launched Creative Solutions in Healthcare in 2000, he started small, opening a single modest nursing home in Granbury. Now Blake runs a nursing home empire. He owns or operates 64 nursing facilities across Texas, from big cities … Read More


How Texas Lawmakers and Industry Have Weakened Citizens’ Rights to Fight Pollution

At the behest of the industry, legislators have chipped away at the environmental permitting process in Texas, stacking the deck against concerned people protesting industrial projects.

In 2008, Chase Power Development LLC, a Houston-based energy company, made plans to build a coal-fired power plant in the coastal Texas city of Corpus Christi. The Las Brisas Energy Center would be a 1,320-megawatt power plant producing electricity for … Read More

cute drawing of a bear holding a texas sign with an orange suitcase with its thumb out as though looking for a ride somewhere

Strangest State: Bear With Us

Weird news from far-flung Texas.

SAN YGNACIO // One May night in Zapata County, a game camera at the SpinTech-Myers Ranch captured the image of a mysterious, four-legged figure. Ranch managers wondered if it was a humongous wild hog. The next day, when the camera … Read More

Health Care

With Storage Space Evaporating, the Oil and Gas Industry Will Get to Put Its Products Back Underground

The Railroad Commission has rolled back rules that once prohibited producers from storing liquid hydrocarbons in geological formations across the state, despite risks to aquifers.

Last month, as the COVID-19 pandemic pushed oil prices into negative figures, drillers in the state’s sprawling shale plays were still pumping and piping oil and gas to the Texas Gulf Coast as usual. But there was a problem: The … Read More

Illustration of Greg Abbott and cotton swabs.
Health Care

Is Texas Inflating Its COVID-19 Testing Numbers by Including Antibody Tests?

The state health department is including some antibody test results in its case totals, potentially clouding information on the current spread of the virus.

Texas health officials are combining some antibody tests along with more common viral tests in statewide COVID-19 tracking data. Experts say this muddies the data and potentially helps pad testing numbers while giving the public a distorted view of the … Read More