Category Archives: Health Care

El Prez Is Back; COVID-19 Still Here

CNBC

The good news is that President Joe Biden has tested negative for COVID-19 and he is back in the Oval. Thankfully, he has in-house medical and the ability to clear a hospital, if needed, for himself. Good thing he was able to get what he needed at the White House.

At today’s COVID-19-Neg presser, the President was promoting vaccines and boosters, at-home tests, paxlovid (if infected), and even wearing masks indoors. He really promoted the fact that these treatments and vaccines are free and available. Masks, I’d still suggest N-95, KN-95 and KF-94 one can find on Amazon and at grocery stores.

Biden also mentioned that things have advanced in the fight against COVID-19, reminding us that his orange predecessor had to be helicoptered to the hospital to get treated, while President Biden was treated effectively in-house with no need for a media circus involving waving from an SUV or endangering Secret Service.

That said, Houston Health reported a miniscule decrease in the positivity rate (down to 32.1%), as well as a drop in the wastewater viral load (down to 774%). While the wastewater number gives some hope because at-home testing doesn’t go reported as PCR tests do and this much of a decrease is noteworthy, a closer look at specific areas of town where they are taking these measurements show some increases, with some areas at over 1000% of the baseline.

Needless to say, COVID-19 is still with us and we still need to avoid it by masking up, avoiding large crowds, and even avoiding indoor activities with crowds. Oh yeah, and try not to get MonkeyPox, either! The side effects can be scary!

UPDATE: El Prez has tested positive for COVID-19 again. Apparently, he has a rare rebound case which are known to appear after treatment with Paxlovid. Hopefully, we’ll get some anecdotal knowledge of the effects of such a positive test.

Not Giving Up On Avoiding COVID-19

Houston Health’s latest report has us at 30.4% positivity on COVID-19 tests. I’m pretty sure we’ll reach one-third of tests soon, at least officially. Because of home tests and lack of individual reporting (c’mon, people, there are various apps on which to report it!), the number is likely higher.

My fear about the Texas Dem convention may have come true as I’ve seen a few friends and FB acquaintances return with positive tests. Another relatively smart FB acquaintance basically stated that we’re all gonna get it, since that person got it while on other unmasked exploits. ((Eye Roll)) I’m not giving up, but, then again, I don’t feel the need to be everywhere maskless during a pandemic. If I do get it, it’ll most likely be because of a failed mask in a room with some infected, unmasked mouthbreather.

The combination of COVID-19 vaccine avoidance due to widespread conspiracy idiocy and those who insist on going unmasked for fun and in the workplace are the reasons we’ve back-slided. The lack of any messaging regarding the latest surge from CDC, FDA, POTUS, and anything other governmental minions shows a lack of concern and also contribute to the current situation. There’s a good article about the current mess in Rolling Stone.

There’s a lot the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can do to slow the BA.5 subvariant and prevent deaths.

But both the FDA and CDC have dragged their heels. The FDA still hasn’t taken arguably the most important steps — approving both second boosters for Americans under age 50 and new booster formulations for subvariants such as BA.5. The CDC meanwhile isn’t clearly communicating to the public just how serious BA.5 is.

Whether it’s outdated COVID-19 maps, definitions of “community transmission” of late, or just a lack of concern based on low hospitalization rates (which say more about severity than spread), it is really looking like failure on the part of government officials. I wouldn’t expect any new mask mandates a few months before the election, but lack of a mandate (or lack of a strong recommendation) has contributed to people being lax and willfully ignorant about reality.

Anyway, I’m officially done with excursions to restaurants and other small events, though, they were few and far between. If I visit a friend by chance, I’ll definitely be masked because I don’t know where anyone not in my immediate circle has been. It’s not just the getting it that worries me, it’s the ongoing effects post-infection. I wish people would take it seriously.

Thoughts on Viernes – 07152022 (Sabado Edition)

The Video

The release of the Uvalde video and the aftermath of the release is pretty ugly. While the people want the ineptitude of cops and political leaders at all levels proven quickly, too much went wrong in the process of releasing it. The video was leaked without much explanation of the content. Other than telling us that the screams of the kids were removed, nothing else was really explained and everything was left to be discussed by the viewers without much actual context. The families were not given an opportunity to watch the video first.

While the ineptitude of all levels of Texas government and law enforcement is obvious, the husband of one of the teachers who was shot was vilified for looking at his phone, when he was awaiting a call from his wife. All because much was left unexplained and people want accountability. Too much went wrong and this is disappointing because it detracts from getting to the bottom of this tragedy. Perhaps this was the intent of its release by Texas authorities to the press.

There will be a lot of blame going around, but we cannot trust DPS, Greg Abbott, or Uvalde’s local authorities to be honest with the people. I still think DOJ should be leading the investigation, since the border cops involved themselves in this whole thing.

Let’s Hope It’s Not A Superspreader

What part of COVID IS STILL HERE do you not understand? That is my message to Texas Democratic Convention attendees. They’re going around mostly unmasked at some pretty packed meetings. The selfies of all the fun reminds me of the golden calf scene in the 10 Commandments; they’re having so much fun at the confab and at the afterparties. Gives me the cringes.

Reminder: Dallas County recently upped it’s COVID warnings to “high.”

It’s obvious that both parties are just going with what the people want. With polls showing closer races all around, it’s not time to be controversial, I guess. Hell, Abbott’s failures during the pandemic haven’t even been mentioned! And neither has Abbott’s border boondoggle.

Congresswoman Garcia Leads Effort To Honor the Late Benny Martinez

The late Benny Martinez, a Houston community leader who led the way to achieve a meeting between LULAC and President John F. Kennedy in 1963, among so many other civil rights achievements, will have a Houston post office named in his honor. Martinez served his community as a nurse and as a Sheriff’s deputy for over thirty years, while also being at the forefront of community issues through various organizations. He was also a Veteran. HR 7832 was spearheaded by Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia. The post office is located on 4020 Broadway St.

COVID-19: CDC Says Mask Up Indoors, Again!

Well, if you haven’t paid attention to my COVID-19 posts of the last couple of months, or the steady climb of test positivity during the same period, it looks like the Feds are recognizing COVID-19 as a problem, again. Surprise? Hardly.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows about one-third of the U.S. population is now living in a county with a “high COVID-19 community level,” which means the agency recommends universal indoor masking.

Johns Hopkins University reports new COVID-19 cases rising slowly, which 108,000 new cases reported every day over the past two weeks. That is up 6% from the two weeks prior.

A recent pre-print study based on health records from the Veteran’s Administration shows that catching COVID-19 over and over again appears to increase the chances a person will experience new and sometimes lasting health problems after their infection.

People who had two or more documented infections had more than twice the risk of dying and three times the risk of being hospitalized within six months of their last infection.

Houston Health reports positivity is at 29.2% (probably undercounted) and that hospitalizations are indeed increasing. Moreover, Houston Health is now telling folks to mask-up indoors no matter their vaccination status based on CDC recommendations. The Texas Tribune and local news outlets also report that hospitalizations have doubled in the last week. All of this because of the newest variant that seems to be among the majority of infections.

But the omicron variant, which doctors say appears to be as contagious as the measles, could wind up sending more people to the hospital than during previous surges — even if it is a milder version of the virus — simply due to the sheer volume of people it’s infecting, Dr. Jason Bowling, epidemiologist at University Health in San Antonio.

Omicron has become the dominant variant in the state less than a month after it was first detected. The delta variant took several months to become dominant in Texas. That means the state’s medical community could be in for a bumpy ride this month as the virus infects people at an unprecedented rate.

Frankly it pisses me off that pundits continue to say that current numbers are “lower than last year’s peak,” as there are still people getting sick and spreading it a lot easier than with past variants. People are still acting as if this is over and it is pretty obvious it is not. Waiting for the numbers to get bad, instead of staying vigilant and proactive, is the problem. This new data that shows people infected multiple times have a higher chance of dying or hospitalization is pretty scary, too.

Now (or during the last few months) is not the time to continue to be lax in preventing disease. If masking had still been pushed while the numbers were lowering, perhaps we wouldn’t be in this current uptick in infections. But, hell, when people at the highest levels of government went unmasked at mass events, including some of our favorite Democrats, they ceased to be an example of prevention to the people. If anything, they were the excuse people needed to flick off their masks. And any new push by them to have the people mask up, I predict, will faceplant because of this.

What pisses me off even more is that the immunocompromised are still under constant threat. People still need to work and are in unmasked workplaces that insist on putting employees in danger. Mass events are being held with little to no recommendations for masking. Look, no one is telling you to close down, but mask the hell up! I really don’t need to see y’alls faces.

I preferred the politics of COVID-19 when Greg Abbott’s ineptitude wasn’t getting the help of everyone else in politics.

Texas Heat: Conserve Energy Today!

Greg Abbott’s unfixed electric grid seems to be sputtering as demand for electricity will be going over its peak today to the point where rolling blackouts may occur. Sunday’s record heat broke records all over Texas.

With a punishing heat wave across Texas driving record high power demand, The Electric Reliability Council of Texas late Sunday sent out a request that Texans cut back on their energy use on Monday.

ERCOT, the state’s power grid operator, asked Texans to turn up their thermostats and postpone running major appliances between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Monday. ERCOT has also called on large electric customers to lower their electricity use.

Total forecasted power demand is expected to surpass 79 gigawatts on Monday, ERCOT said — which would set another record.

Also, ERCOT tells us that “no system wide outages” are expected. That doesn’t mean it won’t go down in certain areas.

While ERCOT is asking big electric users (corporations, manufacturers) to bring down their electric use, I’m pretty sure the rest of us will get the blame if there are blackouts. So, what to do to conserve?

  • Set your thermostat at 78°F or higher – every degree of extra cooling will increase energy usage six to eight percent.
  • Use ceiling fans and portable fans to circulate the cool air.
  • Install patio covers, awnings, and solar window screens to shade your home from the sun. Shade south and west windows with plants or trees to block the heat during the summer.
  • Close interior blinds, drapes, or shades to block the sun and heat during warm weather.
  • Use a clothesline instead of a clothes dryer.
  • Outside air conditioning units, or condensers, should be shaded.
  • On warm days raise your thermostat to 80°F or higher if leaving for more than four hours.
  • Setting your thermostat to a lower temperature than normal will not cool your home faster.
  • Try to save heat and humidity-generating activities (cooking, laundering, and dishwashing) for early morning or evening hours.

Also, get your generators (if you have one) and small chargers ready! And DO NOT forget about the elderly and infirm.

Needless to say, I woke up early today and put some clothes in the washer to get it done early. You’d be surprised how a dryer will heat up an apartment! I usually put my A/C at 78, so if the “E” goes out, it’s not my fault, people! My apartment management will throw me out if I put up a clothesline. The blinds are always closed during hot days. And I have ceiling fans and oscillating fans going all day in the living room.

So, conserve!

Also, mask-up! COVID-19 is still out there and the numbers keep growing. Better to stay away from the heat and the people.

Thoughts on Viernes – 07082022

Migrant Deaths Beyond The Trailer in SA

I came upon a report on FB regarding the bodies of migrants being found in Eagle Pass/Maverick County during this last fiscal year. In fact, the number of deaths this year alone number around seventy. Deaths are caused by dehydration because of the South Texas heat as they trek through farm and ranch land, or from drowning in the Rio Grande. Back in May, a dozen migrants were found in this same sector. Migrant deaths in this sector account for almost a third of all deaths.

So, as Greg Abbott sics his National Guard on helpless migrants escaping violence and poverty in their home countries, migrants will seek more dangerous routes to get here. They certainly aren’t stopping or returning on their own. Along with Abbott’s bigoted policies, The Biden Administration and Congress’s lack of action on immigration reform are the cause of these deaths. US – Latin America policy which supports right-wing governments like the one in El Salvador is at fault for migrants attempting to come to the US in the first place.

We are told to “vote in the next election.” But we voted in 2020. We got a Democratic majority and a Democratic President who promised action. Give us something for which to vote in 2022!

COVID-19 Denial

It seems so many are still in denial that the spread of COVID-19 continues to rise. Houston Health reported we are at 28% positivity. Hospitalizations continue to rise. I see more people I know getting infected, and some, re-infected. I’ll venture to say that these numbers rise because people are out in crowds unmasked. While the vaccination rate in Houston remains steady at around 68%, the re-opening of Texas has sent people into a state of irresponsibility. If you’re skinny and well-insured (and well-informed), the vaccinations and boosters will be a help. But as long as local government isn’t sounding alarms to help inform people of the current reality, then the infection rate will rise. At this point, I’m disappointed in local officials, and not just because some of them got (re-)infected.

The rest of you all, MASK UP. It may be the one thing that keeps you from getting infected, as the vaccination only helps with the symptoms at this point.

But, here’s the thing: So many Republicans and wealthy people whined that working from home would affect productivity. But everyone was working and the work got done. Now, workplaces are seeing increases in COVID-19 positivity, and people are staying home sick and not working. THIS is what affects productivity; not working from home! Anyway, mask up!

Greg Abbott and The People’s Money

Abbott sure knows how to throw other people’s money around, whether it is tax dollars or the money of his donors. In the case of our money, he has thrown $4 billion at the Texas border in what has been one big photo opportunity for himself. He recently announced he was sending another $30 million for his bigoted Operation Lone Pendejo, in which he purports to fight migrants. The money usually goes to overtime for local cops and toys with big tires. And since it comes from federal and state money in the form of law enforcement grants, there usually is no accountability. One would figure that legislators and the feds would ask for a full accounting of it. Hopefully, the Justice Department investigation will tell us what we already know–it’s all a boondoggle and a waste of money. But I’m not even hopeful of that.

Thoughts on Viernes – 07012022

COVID-19 Still On The Rise

This week’s COVID numbers reached another disappointing level. Positivity is now just under 26% and the wastewater viral load pushed passed 630%. Among the popular folks announcing they were infected were County Judge Lina Hidalgo and a bunch of others, including two state reps. What’s disappointing is that none of them are telling people to mask-up. Frankly, I think we all know the symptoms that they tell us they’re going through. We need to be told how not to get it. Again! Other than staying home, masking up is probably the surest way to stay uninfected if one has to be in a crowd or at the workplace. So, do it. It’s not that difficult.

FYI – The medical community is worried. As Dr Luis Ostrovsky tells us, “We have to think that there’s much, much more COVID in the community than we think from the official numbers.” We’ve known the direction these numbers were going and without much warning or push from the political folks, people seem to have gone their merry way straight toward a dose of monoclonal antibodies or Paxlovid, or worse.

Anyway, stay safe, folks. And for goodness sake, put on a mask!

Forced School Prayer

It seems we’re definitely headed in that direction after the SCOTUS went out of its way to destroy the Establishment Clause and somehow explain that a coach who was praying in the middle of the football field with his athletes somehow didn’t encourage them to join in and that it was in private.

I tried school athletics in Junior High. During that time, we had some “out of town” folks show up to coach in our little town and they brought with them their preachy-ness. And if one didn’t participate, they were bullied. It got worse in high school and those athletes who managed to get teaching degrees and return to the town pushed the whole public prayer thing. I wasn’t about to be bullied for not praying, choosing instead to be bullied for not participating in sports.

Needless to say, I came out OK.

Uvalde, TX

As I expected, Uvalde, Texas has turned into a clusterfuck of massive proportions. Parents still are not getting information from state or local Republicans. No one seems to be questioning all the “border” money which has gone to local law enforcement in the area to pursue brown people and cause crashes during migrant chases. Hell, Greg Abbott’s policies caused the death of 50+ migrants because they wanted to avoid Abbott’s National Guard and DPS. In Encinal, TX, a Migra migrant chase caused the death of 4 and more injuries. In our area, another migrant chase caused injuries. And more migrants were found in the back of semi in San Antonio–all alive, thankfully. Greg Abbott has thrown money at many photo opportunities and has failed at ensuring the safety of well, everybody. If you haven’t noticed how these things interconnect, well, you’re doing it wrong. But, Democrats need to offer a hell of a lot more than being an alternative.

Another Sad COVID-19 Report

It didn’t take long for Houston Health to change the local COVID-19 risk level from “MEDIUM” to “HIGH.” What was it? A week?

The COVID-19 positivity levels are now at 23.9% and the viral load in the wastewater is at 556% of the baseline. And they added this, but it isn’t really being pushed with urgency.

With cases and hospitalizations up, please consider wearing a mask in public indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status, and get tested if you have symptoms.

Consider a mask? Just freakin’ do it! If not for oneself, do it for the relatives you insist on hanging around with who may be at even higher risk.

Unfortunately, people are still having mass events with no mask required as if it’s 2019 and people are attending them. I’m seeing more people I know getting hit with COVID-19, some even suffering through it. I’ll say it again: Those who go around self-proclaiming “leadership” status are far from being leaders if they aren’t being an example to the community.

Anyway, mask up with a KN-95 or a KF-94, or something! We know what to do. Surely, we’ve gone unmasked long enough that we aren’t whining about being masked all those months, right?

Houston Back at Medium Risk for COVID-19

The Houston Health Department quietly announced that Houston is back at “Medium” risk for COVID-19, while this week the positivity rate reached 21.1%. Harris County still has us at “Yellow,” which they call controlled levels.

The best advice given by Houston Health is to “consider” wearing a mask if one is at high health risk. They have also stopped using “low” to describe the positivity rate, while pushing vaccines to help lower the numbers. The good news about vaccines is that children under 5 have been cleared to get the COVID-19 vaccines. Whether parents will do the responsible thing and get them vaccinated is to be determined.

Among the famous to report testing positive now is White House COVID-19 advisor Dr. Fauci himself. He’s experiencing mild symptoms and is on paxlovid, the anti-viral med approved to fight COVID-19. One story on the drug is that it is most effective on folks at high risk for severe symptoms based on health and age. That’s 50% of the people around the world. The hope is that better antivirals will be produced to help alleviate symptoms for all categories of people.

Well, all of this time later, people should know the drill. Masks help, especially the good ones like KN-95s and KF-94s. Staying away from crowds is even better. Encourage your bosses at work to get back into the masking groove to protect employees and lower workplace risk. Diving head first into a crowd of strangers unmasked is probably not a good idea. Sure, you might live if you’re vax’d and boosted, but why even get sick? Just be safe.

Expanded Trail On The West Side

I was quite happy to read that the Brays Bayou trail will finally be connected at the West Belt.

Officials on Thursday announced the start of construction on a 7.7-mile segment of trail along the bayou, from Braeburn Glen Park near Gessner and Interstate 69 to Archbishop Fiorenza Park at the Westpark Tollway and Eldridge Parkway. The $20.5 million project completes trail work along Brays and is the longest segment in the Bayou Greenways plan.

What’s exciting are the added options regarding which direction one can go when on this trail. Although, the trail will go through Chinatown and Arthur Storey Park, then snake west to Fiorenza Park, a stormwater detention parkland between Highway 6 and Eldridge, and beyond, there will be a connection to the Westchase Trail, which I use a lot for recumbent triking. That I’d be able to head west is a great option, though, heading east to the Medical Center is nice, too.

This project won’t be completed until the end of 2023, so, there’s no telling where I’ll be at that point in time, but I’m glad for the folks on the West Side of town who need this completed alternative transportation route. Walkers, runners, and cyclists will definitely enjoy it.