Category Archives: Cultura

JP 1-2 Candidate Victor Lombraña Featured on Univision

The local Univision station did a short story on Victor Lombraña recently.

Victor is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1-Place 2 and is the son of Judge Julia Maldonado (507th Family Court), who will be a Dem candidate for the Supreme Court of Texas.

Lombraña lives with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment. Despite the challenges, he has achieved much success in life professionally and personally as a husband and as a father of two boys. But one challenge he overcame was running the Aramco half-marathon this past weekend, which was the reason for the story.

I’ve known Victor for around ten years having worked on his Mom’s campaigns. He’s been an avid volunteer on her campaigns despite a busy career and home life. And he’s just a genuine, good-hearted, service-oriented person who would be an excellent JP.

The Chron told us in 2017 that he’s also a big Astros fan.

Victor’s in a six-way race, so it’ll be a busy race. I’ll be following his journey–a quick one as early voting is set to begin February 14th!

Yes, Another COVID-19 Week

Did You Order Your Free Test?

The Biden Administration’s 1 billion at-home COVID-19 tests are now available for all to order at COVIDtests.gov. Also, if one is insured, get information on how to get reimbursed by ones health insurance at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website. Since we’re Texas, there are different and varying ways in which workplaces are dealing with in-house infections (or trying to avoid them), so, there is an unfortunate chance that one can get infected if some boss or co-worker is walking around unmasked and coughing up a lung at work. PCR Testing is probably better to get to the bottom of ones status, but if one is showing symptoms, then an at-home rapid test could be helpful. Get Vax’d/boosted, wear a mask in public places, and avoid crowds.

Free N-95s?

The Biden Administration also announced that 400 million N-95 masks will become available to the public starting next week. Higher level masks, like N-95, KN-95, and KF-94 masks increase the time for COVID-19 to spread; meaning, if you’re in a workplace setting with a lot of people or a crowd, these masks can be more effective.

The plan consists of working with pharmacies and community health centers to distribute the nonsurgical masks, which will come from the Strategic National Stockpile. The administration will begin shipments this week and hopes to have the program fully operational by early February, the White House official said.

That’s nice and all, but I wish there was a way for Biden and company to lower the costs of higher-level masks. No sooner had I ordered a batch of 50 KN-95 masks at a good price, Omicron arrived in full-force and so did the profiteering, thus, doubling + the price within days. Instead, Biden is making stuff available from the stockpile while manufacturing capacity has somewhat increased, but costs have not been controlled.

It’s Getting Better?

Notwithstanding several exposures that required more than one test in my own family over the last month, there are reports that COVID-19 measured through our Houston wastewater is seeing a decrease, and hospitalizations might be waning in a few places. That kind of talk worries me because people begin to act like fools as if they can go back to their most recent “normal,” which means unmasked mass events with people beyond their circle of trust. Don’t! It’s going in the right direction, but we’re still at almost 40% positivity.

Bottom line, we are still in the thick of it. With schools and universities reopening after the holiday, the “end” of this surge may be delayed. If schools have access to testing, masks, and vaccinations, then there is hope. But it will not be an easy task.

Many state universities are doing “soft openings,” which will begin with online instruction before going back to full capacity. For all the complaining about having to go back to virtual learning, if people wore masks indoors all the time and got vaccinated/boosted, and if higher ed leaders were to stand up to the likes of Greg Abbott, we may have had a better shot at keeping things open. But even the simple tasks are too much for people at all levels.

As always, mask up, get vax’d and boosted, and stay away from big crowds.

Kuff Interviews Precinct 4 Hopefuls

Thanks to Charles at OffTheKuff.com for interviewing those running for the Democratic nomination for Harris County Commissioner Precinct 4. The interviews are informative and allow one to get a feel for a candidate’s views without having to sit through a mass event, like a candidate forum during a pandemic.

Here’s the list of interviews in the order Kuff presented them:

Ben Chou, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Ann Williams, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Gina Calanni, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Lesley Briones, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Clarence Miller, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4

Also, click here for all of the interviews he has done, thus far.

Thoughts on Viernes…01142022

Netflix Dumps Gentefied

One of the few good things on TV featuring a brown cast was dumped by Netflix. Gentefied featured a good storyline, well-developed characters, and good actors with my favorite city, LA, as the backdrop. I guess the good thing is that there was some sort of resolution to the show at the end of the 2nd season. What’s the reasoning for the slashing? Well, it didn’t appear in the Top 10 Netflix shows, so, I guess that was reason enough. Variety seems to defend Netflix by saying they are producing more shows with a Latin@ bent to it, including “I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” which will be directed and headed up by America Ferrera and others from the Gentefied team. So, yeah, it’s upsetting, but as long as brown actors keep getting employed in the future and more content is produced, I guess I can keep watching Netflix.

Judge Opens Up Challenges to Abbott’s Migrant Round-Up

A state district judge in Austin threw out the conviction of a migrant arrested by Greg Abbott and his thugs for trespassing. Abbott’s new initiative has thrown money at local law enforcement on the border to capture, jail, and prosecute migrants who are simply walking on private land while they escape poverty and violence in their home countries. These trumped up charges have closed down state prisons for use as misdemeanor lock-ups of over 2,000 men in Kinney County, wasting human resources and taxpayer funds. The case was challenged in Austin because Kinney County’s court system is slanted against migrants, with a corrupt judicial appointment system. The judge’s decision challenges the constitutionality of Abbott’s human warehousing program. No doubt, there will be more challenges to convictions of migrants who are being railroaded by Abbott.

Congress Wants to Investigate Abbott’s National Guard Deaths

Thirteen members of Congress have called for an investigation into the suicides within Greg Abbott’s National Guard and Abbott’s treatment of the National Guard as he uses them to add photo ops to his border boondoggle. There is a record of poor working conditions, delayed pay, and then the suicides which have put Greg Abbott in the spotlight, though, the problem is Abbott’s involvement in immigration issues in the first place. Abbott has put on a show for his bigoted base by putting up shipping containers to serve as a “wall,” he’s called up 10,000 National Guardsman from their otherwise private lives for photo ops and news conferences, and is wasting billions of dollars on a a few miles of “wall.” Seems to me he needs to be investigated for a lot more.

Voter Suppression is Real

New Voter ID requirements for mail-in ballots are the cause for hundreds of mail ballot applications being rejected for the March Primary. IDs are not matching up to information in voter databases, thus, cancelling out those applications. Republicans were warned that this would happen, but I guess it became more of an incentive to support it. The voter suppression is working.

We Suck Even More! Back at Red

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has placed us back at threat level RED–the highest level. All while blaming record hospitalizations and the unvaccinated.

DosCentavos.net will add that the vaccinated and unmasked attending all sorts of holiday parties and continued mass events in this new year helped drive the percentage of COVID-19 positive tests to almost 40% of those testing.

From the County Public Health Office:

Today, Office of County Judge Lina Hidalgo increased the COVID-19 Threat Level Indicator from level 2 (Orange) to level 1 (Red). Unvaccinated individuals should continue to mask, physical distance, and avoid all gatherings. Vaccinated individuals follow the latest local public health guidance on wearing a mask while indoors in public places, in crowded outdoor settings, and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated. We urge all unvaccinated people to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Visit vacstrac.hctx.net or call 832-927-8787 for scheduling and appointments are not required, although recommended.

I think it’s better to just have one blanket suggestion to not go to crowded settings and to always wear masks. One may hang out with someone who is vaccinated, but we never know where that vaccinated person may have been. I think that’s one reason why so many vax’d people got Omicron after attending holiday parties and mass events. And I’m just tired of rewarding bad behavior.

Hopefully, more workplaces will be pushing vaccinations and masking in the office if forcing employees to sacrifice themselves at work. Otherwise, let’s hope for at least some lower density work environments calling for split shifts and a couple of days of working at home. And hope that managers aren’t up the hindside of Greg Abbott.

And do we really think the unvaccinated are going to avoid crowds, wear masks, and get vaccinated? We don’t hear about it until their family members start their GoFundMes with, “Covid ain’t no joke.”

Because of comorbidities and other issues, I’ve remained at RED since Day 1. Don’t expect me to be out and about. (There have been a couple of nervous attempts at patio dining pre-Omicron.) As far as deciding on whom to vote for in the Democratic Primary, my only source of information will be unmasked (-vs- masked) selfies and blockwalking pics on Facebook and/or Instagram.

My policy of not giving to GoFundMe funeral fundraisers for the unmasked and unvax’d will remain in place. Those who die from being vax’d, yet unmasked and endangering themselves, will go through a committee vote.

In other words, stay masked, get boosted, and stay away from gatherings for now. And if you’re an elected official or candidate, be a damn example. I’d like for whom I am voting to not get COVID and die while in office.

Kuff adds a similar sentiment while asking if anyone is listening anymore.

Tacho’s Sabado Playlist

Welcome to 2022! While Omicron seems to be affecting some of the live music scene, the industry goes merrily along. There’s much excitement about OmicRodeoHouston as Journey has made it to the line-up. And a few others, too. Unfortunately, No Tejano Day is now Norteño day, so the OmicRodeo folks have made their disdain for Tejano music even clearer now. So be it. There’s still plenty of Tejano to be enjoyed, even if it is digital. So, here are a few new tunes that hit my radar.

Marcos Orozco – Cada Dia Mas – Marcos Orozco is back with brand new material from his Intimo album. It’s been a while but Orozco is one of David Lee Garza’s alumni who went solo years ago. He has quite the following for his simple and down to earth style of music–nothing flash, just good music. Cada Dia Mas kicks off the new album, which also includes classics, such as Y Ahora Te Vas (Los Bukis) and an old standard, Cuando El Destino. It’s a good album to kick off 2022.

Samoyedo – Lupita – Grupo Samoyedo is an outfit from Guadalajara, MX who has gained a following from recording old-school Tejano classics, but in their own progressive conjunto style. Lupita is their newest, although they did release a David Lee Garza tribute medley featuring DLG himself (an Val Maltos on sax).

AB Quintanilla/Ricky Rick/Neto Pena/Yoss Bones – La Kumbia Buena – ABQ3 drops this versatile cumbia collab. Check it out!

Another Week in COVID-19

A friend pointed me to a pretty good podcast on how Omicron is counterintuitive. Check it out here. It talks about where we are and about where we may be heading. There may be some hope in a world of “WTF is going on?!?”. Still, we must mask-up and not just be vax’d and boosted.

A few weeks into Omicron, it seems Greg Abbott finally panicked enough to beg the Biden administration for help. He still doesn’t want Texans and Texas schoolkids wearing masks, and, though vax’d and boosted himself, doesn’t want to require it for anyone else. But he demands more tests and monoclonal antibodies for his unvax’d and unmasked fans. C’mon, Abbott, Marco Rubio is calling you “irrational“!

Of course, he is also suing Biden because he says he is the state’s national guard leader (Remember Jade Helm!) and doesn’t think they should be vax’d if they don’t want to be. This is the same “leader” who has overseen recent suicides of his soldiers who are tired of being at the Texas border wasting time and taxpayer money. Some leader.

But Biden isn’t in the clear despite his press conference, either. ICE facilities have failed to give their migrant guests vaccine boosters to protect them from Omicron. We know that Omicron spreads easily and in close quarters like an immigrant prison, well, everyone is endangered. One would hope that Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez will be asked by Senators about this, since he’s been re-nominated for ICE Director after the Senate failed to act on his original nomination. Or will it be the Senate’s original questions on human warehousing and hunting and profits? Good luck, Sheriff.

Well, we’re still on fire here in Texas. COVID-19 continues its spread, infections continue to rise, and hospitalizations of the unvaccinated continue. Anecdotally, folks still seem to be acting as if invincible as I see them unmasked (and hacking up a lung) at the store. The good thing is that the holidays are over and there are less mass events among Democrats again. At least, I’m not seeing any selfies at events.

Stay masked. Stay vax’d and boosted. And stay away from large gatherings.

New Year’s Week in COVID-19

The Omicron surge continues, well, surging, as more positive tests are added to the count. And, testing has surged, too, as folks have tested for travel and family visit purposes and seem to be testing after the Christmas weekend. So much so, COVID tests are still in demand, whether PCR or at-home quick ones. A drive down Westheimer on the west side found long lines at testing kiosks, whether in ones car or by foot.

It will take another week or so to count new infections that came about from unmasked and/or unvaccinated family visits over the Christmas weekend. It takes 3 to 7 days for symptoms to appear, on average, so, those testing soon after a weekend visit may get a negative. That just means one should test again in a few days to make sure. Even the at-home tests have two tests for this reason. And if you’ve been exposed and are asymptomatic, test anyway!

The CDC has cut the number of days one must quarantine in half. Specifically:

Americans who test positive for COVID-19 but do not have symptoms can stop isolating after five days as long as they continue wearing masks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Monday, halving the agency’s previous isolation period down from 10 days. 

The CDC also said it was loosening its guidance for quarantining after a COVID-19 exposure for unvaccinated Americans or those eligible for a booster who have not yet received their additional shot. It now recommends a five-day quarantine followed by five days of strict mask-wearing, but says that if quarantine “is not feasible,” it can be skipped as long as they wear a mask in the 10 days after exposure. 

The CDC says people who are fully vaccinated and boosted do not need to quarantine after exposure.

The keyword in all of this seems to be masks. The ones the vaccinated (Dem politicos included) weren’t wearing while attending two weeks worth of holiday parties and the reason we just can’t only blame the unvax’d for his new spread. Wear them. And wear the good ones (n95 or kn95), or, at the very least, wear a surgical/medical mask covered by a cloth mask. Omicron is very transmissible as one person can infect as many as three, on average. Also…

As to when to wear a mask, obviously you want to cover up when you’re using public transit, including airports and airplanes, and when you’re indoors in grocery stores or other public places, as with previous surges.

And also with family visits, if one isn’t sure about everyone’s vaccination status. All it takes is one to affect many.

Also, listen to updates from Dr. Fauci or Dr. Peter Hotez in Houston. You can find them on the news or on Twitter!

I’ve gotten or seen social media posts telling me everything from “We’re all going to get it,” to “diets” to avoid COVID-19. If you don’t want to get it, follow the guidelines of mask-wearing and maybe stop jumping into a COVID snot cloud at a crowded event. Stop looking for excuses to not wear a mask or to go to mass events. It’s that simple, if you really care about humanity. If you don’t, well, stay away from me and my family. I have no problem writing people off when there are family members to protect.

America should have been ready for this.

Now, Breakthrough Cases Are Being Covered

It seems a lot of folks I know, friends even, have been hit by COVID-19 despite being vaccinated–some even boosted. I feel for them and am almost waiting “my turn” as workplace exposures are becoming a thing now which are sending folks for testing.

Unfortunately, with the holidays and gatherings in in our present and future, testing facilities are having their supply demanded. I’ve pretty much cancelled my Xmas weekend with family and my tamales-making mood is effectively dead.

So, the conversation about breakthrough infections is also a thing. Even President Biden has told us to expect more of them as Omicron takes over as the main variant. Time magazine has an interesting article about breakthroughs.

Now that the world has largely reopened and a new, highly contagious variant is here, avoiding COVID-19 completely is no longer a realistic long-term plan, says Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency medicine physician and associate dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health.

“There is a high likelihood that most of us will catch COVID at some point,” Ranney says. “The goal of the vaccines is to delay that as long as possible, and then to make it so that, if and when we do catch COVID, it is as mild as possible.”

But that doesn’t mean we should abandon every precaution, Ranney says. For one thing, we’re still learning a lot about what Omicron can do. There are also unanswered questions about how often breakthrough infections lead to Long COVID and whether Omicron changes those odds.

Well, that’s just lovely.

The main worry is about the health care system and that even though vaccines and boosters will make things easier for most, that others will still need care, thus overrunning the system. Top that with medical staff who are already working with skeleton crews and the concern increases.

The main suggestion to flatten the curve? (Hadn’t heard that in a while): Mask and vaccine mandates. Well, since this is Texas, we are all on our own because of Greg Abbott’s death wish for most of us.

A reminder from one of the docs in the article.

“We need to do what we can to flatten the curve,” says Dr. Rebecca Wurtz, an infectious disease physician and associate professor of health policy and management at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. “I’m thinking it’s going to be 10 weeks, 12 weeks until we’re able to relax a little bit and move into a normalized response.”

Then the article goes into treating COVID-19 as a normal part of life. In the future, that is.

Right now, someone with a breakthrough case of COVID-19 is supposed to isolate for 10 days after testing positive or developing symptoms, even though recent evidence suggests that vaccinated people may clear the virus faster. Before too long, she says, we’ll probably scrap that policy and move toward a more familiar approach, in which people stay home while they’re symptomatic but don’t necessarily pause their entire lives for 10 days. Someday, people may not even need to test or seek treatment, so long as they only have mild symptoms, Wurtz says.

But not yet!

Another way to be better prepared for spikes is to improve the socioeconomic problems of the United States. Well, the Build Back Better plan seems to be falling apart since it is not a priority for Joe Manchin or Kirsten Synema. Thanks to Biden, student loan debtors have a 3-month reprieve, but if the Docs in the article are correct, it’ll take that long to go back to the previous normal we experienced–the one where vaccinated folks went unmasked to holiday parties and ended up sick and giving it to others.

I tend to agree with Senator Bernie Sanders in that student loan debt needs to be cancelled completely. Take it out the Pentagon’s petty cash fund.

Needless to say, we are seeing talk of breakthrough infections normalizing. I guess that means someone is keeping a tally of them, now? Too bad no one seems to be listening.

Stay masked. Get vax’d and boosted. Get tested if you want to visit with family. Better yet, stay home!

Y’all Suck! We Are Back At Orange!

Looks like we are back at Code Orange in the COVID-19 threat level in Harris County.

“Due to the explosive growth of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus across Harris County, public health officials are strongly urging all eligible Harris County residents, especially individuals 65 and older, to get their booster shots as soon as possible,” county officials said in a statement released Monday. “Residents who are not vaccinated are cautioned to do so immediately. Regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask and get tested before attending holiday gatherings.

I don’t like to second guess leaders that I support, but the masking/testing suggestion for all should have continued, instead of going “Yellow.” Instead, we’ve seen so many maskless mass events attended by the unmasked, yet vaccinated, as holiday parties and graduations have been celebrated and, unsurprisingly, the numbers took a turn for the worse in a very bad and quick way. Some of our Democratic stars are getting breakthrough infections. My worry is also with workplaces who have “fully opened” and have gone unmasked as they follow Greg Abbott.

Let’s not forget that when we went to “Yellow” the other day, word of Omicron surfaced. And what we know about Omicron now is that we will have more breakthrough infections. And the worry is that many of those breakthrough infections will hit hospital and medical staff.

We should have remained careful. Hell, I did and continue double-masking and avoiding maskless crowds, but that’s because I have my own comorbidities and I have family members who are immunosuppressed that I’d much rather hang-out with than all other humans. I’m not going to risk them.

I know leaders want to provide citizens some sort of incentive or reward or relief from masks for bringing numbers down, but, with so many still unvaccinated and unmasked scoffing at our leaders who are trying to do something good, well, idiocy should not be rewarded. Certainly, the maskholes didn’t feel the need to vax and mask while those of us who have done our part were the ones who were actually being rewarded.

President Biden will speak on Omicron on Tuesday. While I hear chatter from some considered experts that “COVID-19 is here to stay” and that “we will all get it, eventually,” I hope leaders at the very top don’t listen to them and actually lead. Some of us just don’t want to get sick, no matter how “mild” the symptoms.

For more, here’s Kuff.