Category Archives: Health Care

Biden’s 100 Days Speech

American Rescue Plan, American Families Plan, health care access, infrastructure, education, ending forever wars…I loved it. We have a Democratic President and a Democratic Congressional majority, let’s get it done! Right?

But as Clinton’s brain stated this week, “Democrats can’t be more liberal than Joe Manchin.” So, we’re screwed because of Democrats, not because of useless Republicans. As Tim Scott proved, Republicans have always been useless.

Regarding Biden’s call for immigration reform, he punted to Congress. He stated if Congress didn’t like his immigration plan that they should go piecemeal on migrant farmworkers and DREAMers, which a couple of decades ago had bipartisan support. Now, as Republicans are even more racist than in 2006, they won’t even support this kind of policy unless they are allowed to exploit migrant labor and abuse them further. Republicans have proven themselves evil. Ultimately, Biden seems to have given up the fight because racist Republican rhetoric is working. With a Democratic majority, we should have the testicular fortitude to pass whatever the hell we want. Please, Democrats, surprise me.

As far as the speech goes, it was well written and well presented. I have no doubt that, despite Biden’s foreign affairs record, that he was trying to bring some consensus to the table for his agenda. Unfortunately, it was a call to action for a bunch of bigoted Republicans and for Democrats who have 2022 and redistricting on the brain. They will take the advice from Clinton’s brain and go piecemeal on Biden’s agenda–no thanks to people like Joe Manchin and other Dumbocrats. Prove me wrong, though.

Whatever was presented for television, Joe Biden needs to drop the hammer on middle of the roaders who are being obstructionists from the confines of the oval office–2022 be damned! He’s the head of the Democratic Party, he needs to lead.

That’s all I’ve got. Good speech, but Biden’s actions beyond this speech are what will be needed to get the job done.

COVID-19: It is Far From Over

For sixteen years, I’ve written about Chicano politics, culture and other cool stuff. Along the lines of culture is my obvious love for Onda Chicana music, or Tejano music. During the last year, I’ve written about how the Tejano music industry has suffered because of the pandemic, and how even some accomplished Grammy-winning musicians who pushed it and exposed themselves at venues during the pandemic almost died from it.

Anyway, it seems with idiotic state governors fully opening up states around the country, music is returning to the stage. Some big-name bands, like The Mavericks, have had intimate gatherings with limited attendance, distancing, and even masking if the beer can isn’t at ones mouth. I guess this is as responsible as it can get at these things during a pandemic. There have been some attempts at Tejano clubs to have reduced capacity, limited musician (solo/accompaniment acts) concerts that seem to have been productive.

But I’ve also seen Tejano music clubs re-opening to full capacity, and, no doubt, Tejano music fans are hungry to return to their partying ways to spend some of that stimulus (or their hard-earned money). Every now and then, a venue has posted livestreams of the concerts/dances at their venues and there is no distancing, no masks, and one has to wonder what the crowd’s vaccination rate is.

In Texas, the current full vaccination rate is at 23%; unfortunately, demand for the vaccine is dropping and really fast. Some smaller counties are closing up vax sites because the demand is so low. In Florida, the vaccination numbers are similar because of their similarly idiotic governor. And for Brown folks, the vaccination rate is dangerously low. Unfortunately, infection rates and positivity are still high all around. And they are still high for Latinos.

According to the CDC, Latinos are 2 times more likely to get the disease than white and non-Latino groups, 3 times more likely to end up in the hospital, and 2.3 times more likely to die from COVID-19. And since vaccination rates are still low among Latinos, these rates of risk among Latinos are not likely to change any time soon.

So, why the hell are Brown folks packing nightclubs and concert venues? Just because our idiot governor said it was OK? Hell, if we were creating super-spreader events early on during the pandemic at family gatherings, imagine what can happen in a venue full of unmasked strangers screaming and breathing on you.

A reminder: The vaccination only guards you from serious infection.

I know the bands and musicians are looking out for their own livelihood, but they hold some of the responsibility for not limiting attendance at these venues. For not enforcing masking and distancing at these privately owned venues as part of their performance contracts. But I guess the money is just too good. So, if the governors are leaving it up to people to decide how to act and whether or not to get a shot of vaccine, then the people asked for it, right?

There’s a happy-medium in all of this (limited attendance, masking, distancing, serious vax encouragement) that bands and venues seem to want to avoid. Why? It cuts into profits, obviously. And believe me, I long for a good concert, like Los Lobos and The Mavericks at the Greek Theater (outdoors) in LA in the early fall, but even with my shots done, I just don’t trust large groups of people when my responsibility is to my family (some with autoimmune conditions) and my work. The YOLO attitude among our people is exactly what is killing our people.

I guess what I want to tell my Tejano music lovin’ people is this: Slow down! Get Vaccinated! Mask-Up! Distance! Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated venues!

Update on the Ride to End Alz

Well, I did my Alzheimer’s Association Spring Challenge virtual ride last Sunday while raising money for Alzheimer’s research. I managed 25 miles in two hours and felt like I could go another two hours. Thanks to friends and family, I have raised over $600. Not bad, considering my goal was $100–just so I could get the medal. Ha. Ha. The fundraising page is up for another month, in case some of you want to donate.

I’m hoping there will be more of these kinds of rides while I wait for COVID-19 transmission rates to get back down to almost ZERO. I can’t say I’m ready for crowded rides, just yet, but one may find me on a lonely trail in one of our parks on the west side of town.

Thanks to the folks at Alzheimer’s Association for making these rides accessible during the pandemic. The challenge to raise money is huge, but as long as there are alternate ways to get these done, more people can do their part. In fact, over 1,000 good folks participated, either virtually or on their own bike trail with a small group and over $200,000 was raised.

Plans are set for a Summer Challenge and I’m thinking about it. Of course, if things get to clearing up, the Wimberley Ride seems quite interesting…and hilly. If I don’t participate, some of you should!

Contribute To The Ride to End Alzheimer’s

La Leona

Some of you may not know that I’ve recently taken up trike riding. That’s right, 3 wheels a-rollin’!

Late last year, I broke down and decided to invest in my health by purchasing a Trident Spike. I figured I could get some good exercise while enjoying the outdoors.

With COVID-19 still rampant and some of the trails still full of unmasked mouthbreathers, many of my rides have been virtual while I use my Sportscrafters OverDrive Trike Trainer. So, I’ve been in training, re-gaining my legs, and hoping for some good causes to support while enjoying my trike.

A day ago, I found out that the Alzheimer’s Association was doing their Spring edition of the Ride to End Alzheimer’s. I have the option to find a trail or take my trainer and trike outside and do a virtual ride. So, on April 18, I’ll be doing a two-hour virtual ride to raise money for Alzheimer’s research. I figure that’s about 20 to 25 (corrected) miles, depending on my virtual program.

My initial goal is $100, but I hope to keep raising it as we get closer to the ride. I wish I had found out about it sooner, but let’s see what I can raise in a couple of weeks. You can also donate through my Facebook Ride page.

I’m dedicating this ride to my mom, Flo. She was not diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but was experiencing mild cognitive impairment as she aged. For years, my family has supported Alzheimer’s causes in one way or another. The ride is also dedicated to all those family members and friends who have also experienced this dreaded illness either as patients or as caregivers.

So, please, make a contribution. It will go a long way to helping end Alzheimer’s.

The Witch Hunt of Dr. Gokal Must End

While local authorities reward bad street racing behavior by giving them a place to “practice,” the local DAs office continues their witch hunt of Dr. Hasan Gokal, a doctor employed by Harris County who was accused of stealing one vial of COVID-19 vaccine, while doing everything possible to avoid it being wasted.

While the state’s top authority for doctors has found no evidence of wrongdoing, the DA is still going to present a case to a grand jury despite a judge dropping the charges for lack of evidence.

The March 9th letter stated Gokal “appeared to have administered doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to patients that were properly consented, in the eligible patient category, and they were given doses that would have otherwise been wasted.”

KHOU 3/16/2021

Further, Dr. Gokal did the proper reporting of the administration of the vaccine and he didn’t gain any benefit from it. It wasn’t some vast vax steal conspiracy to make money. We already have local hospitals and clinics charging people for what is supposed to be a free vaccine and they aren’t being investigated by the DA.

Why does the DA continue this fruitless cause?

Of course, we’re talking about the same DA who dropped all charges against deputy Shauna Thompson for murdering John Hernandez at a Denny’s in East Harris County a few years ago with the excuse that, despite video evidence that Hernandez was suffocated by Thompson and her husband, there wasn’t enough evidence to convict her. It would seem this Doc’s case lacks any evidence, other than we have a doctor–a public servant–doing his job of making sure the vaccine was not wasted.

Earlier this year, our County Judge reported on wasted vaccine and has even made other groups (teachers) a priority to ensure that vials of vaccine do not go to waste. So, not wasting vaccine is a good thing and trending, apparently.

It was also reported that one box of vaccine was wasted when it fell off a table at a vax location. So, yes, mistakes happen at vax locations, but Gokal’s case was all about not wasting vaccine and making sure it went to the right people.

This case lacks any semblance of criminality and it needs to end to save this good Doc’s career and livelihood. Let’s not waste a needed doctor by trying to score some cheap points for a junior prosecutor’s win-loss record.

Don’t Be A Maskhole!

While the Official State Bigot (Greg Abbott) is whining and blaming “the other” down in South Texas, his followers today begin to shirk their responsibilities and exercise their right to kill others as the Texas mask mandate no longer exists and Texas businesses have permission to open back up to 100% capacity in the middle of a pandemic that very much continues.

Regarding Abbott’s whining at the border, I remind all that people migrate from Central America because of the poverty and violence in their home countries. It doesn’t help that US policy in Latin America is a joke–no matter what party is in charge. Biden has proposed some ideas, but any assistance for those countries likely will come with rules–like whom they should elect as their leaders, instead of whom the poor and indigenous elect. And that’s a whole other debate. The US has only worsened the root causes of migration, whether in the form of political, military, or commercial intervention, and usually all forms at once. Abbott supports those policies, he just whines about how Biden deals with the effects of those policies because he longs to be the next Trump. The effects have always been the same, no matter who is in power, because the root causes remain in effect.

Meanwhile, we still have COVID-19 to address and Greg Abbott has been a complete failure in this regard. Thanks to the Biden administration, the vaccines are slowly increasing, as is access to them. The Democrats will finally pass a COVID-19 relief package that will bring the US closer to a safer re-opening (for most), if not normality. And this is Biden’s fault–I’ll give him that much credit. But I also see it as just simply doing the job that is demanded by the people.

Abbott’s and his followers tactics are all for the purposes of delaying whatever progress can be achieved while there are other challenges that must be addressed by the Biden administration–like immigration reform. The Republicans have always run on a delay and deny playbook when they are not in power (and a few “moderate” Dems have always helped them with that). Democrats should act like they have all the power in the world and make the changes that need to be made. Screw bipartisanship!

Anyway, MASK-UP! Practice physical distancing when out and about. Stay away from gatherings. Wash hands. And follow the CDC for the latest opportunities that may help open things up safely. Moreover, IGNORE Greg Abbott!

My Vax Experience – Part 1

I got lucky on Thursday evening when the Houston Health Department opened up some slots for shots–the COVID-19 vaccine. I was quite surprised when I clicked the link and lo and behold, a page actually opened up that allowed me to sign up. Why was I surprised? Because, most times, the slots filled up within a few minutes. I felt quite lucky. So, I signed up and moments later received confirmation of my appointment for Friday morning.

With paperwork in hand, I drove over to the HHDs vax facility at Bayou City Events Center on Knight Road. Thankfully, I got in line early and made it into the parking lot within 15 minutes. (HPD and COH Mobility did a great job!) Another 15 minutes later, the staff in the lot had scanned the QR code on my printed-out email, checked me in, and I parked in a great space.

The first stop just inside the door was with the temp-taking guy who also wrapped your wrist with a green band. Then I was led into a room and told to go to a station. The nice woman at the station looked over my paperwork and a minute later, I was sent to another room–the main ballroom–where there were numerous nurses stations. I went to where I was pointed, sat with the nurse, answered a few questions, and a minute later, I was already sitting in the ballroom waiting for 15 minutes to make sure I didn’t grow fangs or have some reaction. One nurse walked by and even checked on me–I’m that special. Then, I was on my way.

I must say that the HHD staff and volunteers are running a tight ship. Along with great intake and nursing staff members, maintenance staff was on top of keeping things clean and sanitized. A lot of sanitizer was available and the bathrooms were clean. Also, I’d never been to this facility, but if anyone ever has an event and needs a DJ (when all this is over), give me a call. I offer great rates and great music!

Did it hurt? It was an injection through the muscle. You’ll feel something. Hours later, my upper arm felt sore, yet, no fangs grew out of me and the Russians have not tried to communicate with me. It’ll be different for everyone, I’m sure. I hear the 2nd dose is doozier, but I’m alright with that if it gets us closer to some sort of herd immunity.

My hope is that we get to a point very soon where we don’t need a race to the needle by way of a computer. Accessibility is as important as the community education that helps convince people to get inoculated, but more important is actual availability at-large. Also very important is the need to take the shots to the community members who are not able to drive to a location. As CM Letitia Plummer stated on Friday, while the FEMA vax site is a great thing, we must address accessibility for those who do not have access to an automobile.

Obviously, there is still a lot to be done. Out local leaders are doing their part and President Biden’s visit today provided some assurance that things are happening, including more vaccine production. But Congress must still pass the COVID-19 bill to ensure the supplies needed to provide the vaccines are purchased.

Well, that’s my experience. I will say that my stress levels are much lower now. Missing out on some of the vaccine sign-ups was indeed stressful. Now, I wait a month for dose #2. Hope you get your doses, as well.

On a more serious note, I cannot help but think about all of those whom we’ve lost. It didn’t have to happen. Of the 500K+, we’ve all known a few. My family has lost relatives and long-time family friends. The least we can do is get vaccinated ASAP so we can continue living and serving in the name of all of those humans.

Mask up, keep distancing, wash hands, and get your shot when you can!

Abbott’s Intentional Failures

Greg Abbott was not put on this earth to serve the vast majority of Texans and his State of the Failed State speech was just another example of his black heartedness and disdain for those most in need.

As the Texas Lege tries to get back to work amid COVID-19, missing from Abbott’s priorities are efforts to fight COVID-19. It’s not surprising, actually. Abbott has been missing in action in that regard, and President Biden is finding out that Trump and his ilk were MIA, too.

Abbott’s time-wasting moves have been to protect businesses who continually push to violate COVID-19 protocols. His only intention has been to flout CDC guidelines and suggestions by keeping Texas businesses, churches, and schools open in the midst of a pandemic that caused more and more death and illness. By adding that folks aren’t required to get vaccinated in all of his statements on vaccine rollout, he’s pretty much in line with all the yahoos whose behavior has put Texans in peril. Kuff has more on this particular issue.

Abbott completely ignores the need for reform of law enforcement, which would include prioritizing funding toward programs that take on the root causes of crime–homelessness, poverty, mental illness. Instead, he promotes his own version of Trumpism in a vow to overthrow local control of local law enforcement. He commits to ending the actual bail reform that is finally coming to light, while supporting punishment before trial for those who cannot afford to bond out. He is not interested in meeting the demands of the people who continually go abused by a bigoted law enforcement system.

At a time when people are most in need of preventive health care, Abbott cares not about the health of Texans by not supporting an expansion of Medicaid. 2 million Texans could benefit from this expansion at little cost to the state. Instead, Abbott simply does not care. He never has. And sick people be damned.

Finally, Abbott is content with restrictive voting laws that keep Black and Brown people home on election day. He keeps talking about “trust” in elections when his own Donald Trump, et. al. continues a crusade against a legitimate election. Abbott makes up accusations of voter fraud with no evidence, while supporting efforts to stop people from voting. It’s a great deception to rile up bigoted supporters. In fact, while people seem to want to save the republican party, they seem to forget that even “moderate” republicans have found the crazies in the party useful to win elections. They’re just finding out the hard way that these idiots also want to be their elected leaders (look up Greene and Boebert).

Why people have trusted Abbott and republicans to run this state is beyond me. Why people think he would do anything other than serve the masters that keep him and his buddies well-funded also keeps me dumbfounded. Bottom line: Abbott does all of this with a purpose in mind–Keep the rich happy and kick everyone else in the teeth, even the people he continues to fool. It has been the republican way for decades, but Trump allowed the already hateful behavior to show its teeth with amped up racism, lies and deception. And Abbott seems to be OK with that behavior in the role of a Trump lapdog, as long as he gets to lead them.

Democrats need to fight and with fighting words; and with none of the usual rhetorical crap that is never believable, like moving to the right on something, or attempting to fight like gentleman (and gentlewomen) with sugarcoated bullshit, when all republicans do is bludgeon those they hate–verbally and through racist policies.

Texas will not change until the people recognize who is actually on their side when it comes to economic opportunity, health care, education, and the issues that actually matter. But we’ve been saying this for…ever, and no one seems to get it. And the republicans gain ground because they are so good at finding those weaknesses in people that allow them to blame “the other” for every problem.

Anyway, just wanted to put something down on virtual paper which states the obvious: Greg Abbott is failing Texans quite intentionally and he’s been allowed to do it since his beginnings . If we’re going to fight him, well, fight him. But let’s not be squeamish.

NIH Revises Use of Ivermectin for Fight Against COVID-19

There have been various reports regarding the use of Ivermectin in the fight to treat COVID-19. I had posted about local COVID-19 fighter, Dr. Joseph Varon, and his associates’ effort to have the federal government recognize the use of the anti-parasitic drug in treating COVID-19. A slight change in attitude has occured at the federal level.

While the feds were upscaling their efforts in creating vaccines for COVID-19, there was still a worry that lack of availability of the vaccine would not help efforts to fight the actual infections that were still occurring in real-time. Dr. Varon and his associates were among various scientists studying the use of Ivermectin, which was known to be used in fighting worms in dogs, but approved for human use for over 40 years. Considering the botched roll-out by Trump and Texas Governor Abbott, this is quite timely as infections and hospitalizations continue to overtax local resources.

Medical authorities at the federal level had taken the attitude that, while Ivermectin was FDA-approved, it was not approved for use against COVID-19. Recent reports state that the National Institutes of Health has changed course.

One week after Dr. Paul Marik and Dr. Pierre Kory—founding members of the Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC)— along with Dr. Andrew Hill, researcher and consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO), presented their data before the NIH Treatment Guidelines Panel, the NIH has upgraded their recommendation on ivermectin, making it an option for use in COVID-19. 

This new designation upgraded the status of ivermectin from “against” to “neither for nor against”, which is the same recommendation given to monoclonal antibodies and convalescent plasma, both widely used across the nation. 

By no longer recommending against ivermectin use, doctors should feel more open in prescribing ivermectin as another therapeutic option for the treatment of COVID-19. This may clear its path towards FDA emergency use approval. 

“Ivermectin is one of the world’s safest, cheapest and most widely available drugs,” noted Dr. Kory, President of the FLCCC Alliance. “The studies we presented to the NIH revealed high levels of statistical significance showing large magnitude benefit in transmission rates, need for hospitalization, and death. What’s more, the totality of trials data supporting ivermectin is without precedent.”

Newswise.com 1/15/2021

Dr. Marek and Dr. Kory were among those scientists working with Dr. Varon.

This is great news as studies have found that Ivermectin can be used post-exposure, early-stage, and even during late stage. The drug has anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties which have helped numerous patients locally.

Here’s a link to DosCentavos’ post regarding Dr. Varon’s press conference on Ivermectin.

The vax roll-out is now in the hands of the Biden administration, which has had to get to the bottom of Trump’s failures. While the roll-out continues, we must continue to mask-up, wash hands, social distance, and if possible stay away from humans outside of one’s immediate family. And, in case you haven’t heard…double mask!

The Harris County Vax Portal Worked For Me!

Was the Harris County COVID-19 vaccine registration portal a bit glitchy and overloaded? Yeah.

Did Judge Lina Hidalgo tell us during her Monday press conference that it may have some glitches that will be taken care of as they come? Yeah.

Did the media report that? Of course not! DosCentavos did.

And did over 50,000 register by end of business on Tuesday? Well, yes, and count me among those that registered.

As posted on the Judge’s FB page: “I know people are anxious to register for a vaccine and website glitches are frustrating. But we’ve designed the system to give everyone equal access. If you sign up in future days you’ll still be selected from a randomized pool. 53K+ people registered today online, with more via phone.”

Let’s face it, local and state governments were left to fend for themselves by the Trump administration. While Trump ordered vaccines, he didn’t do much to help states and local governments with timely funding for supplies and resources needed to educate and inoculate a few hundred million people nationwide (remember, he was threatening to veto all sorts of things because of some internet rule?). Each state and locality has had to come up with their own systems of distribution and storage. And the funding for supplies and resources is still slow-going, on top of the slow production and distribution of vaccine from the companies that produced them. And if it’s a state like Texas, equity isn’t even on the radar of their right-wing leaders (Greg Abbott, et, al).

So, that a local government is actually trying to get something done to give people peace of mind should be commendable, and not something about which to whine, as has been exhibited on the news and by folks who didn’t support Judge Hidalgo.

That people expect perfection locally while the national government is still very much in a transition of leadership and getting to the bottom of what Trump and republicans did to our nation in regards to COVID-19, well, I just need to tell those people to watch their privilege. Because if you’re lovin’ on Biden after only 6 days of signing papers, while whining about local leaders trying to do something that takes more than an executive order, well, you’re doing whatever you’re trying to do wrong.

That said, there are millions of people in Harris County who need the vaccine. At least 2 million fall under the 1A and 1B priority list. A quarter of Harris County residents are uninsured and are not patients under the care of the local big hospitals which were given priority by the state of Texas. I’m just saying there are systemic things that must be addressed that have contributed to where we are now for which we must be demanding systemic change.

Anyway, the registration site is up. If you get a “maintenance” message, just refresh. If there are thousands of people trying to get registered and it overloads the system every now and then, well, that’s a good thing that people want to get registered and actually want the shot. President Biden just ordered an extra 200 million shots that will not arrive until the summer, meaning, the original Trump administration order of shots hasn’t even begun to arrive in bulk fashion. Get registered at as many portals as you can find and wait.

As always: Stay at/work from home if you can. If not, wear a mask, wash hands, and distance from others!