Category Archives: Health Care

The Stace Slate – 2022 Dem Run-Off

It’s that time again. Early voting for the 2022 Democratic Run-off begins on Monday, May 16 and continues through May 20. Run-off Election Day is on Tuesday, May 24. You can find your nearest polling location by clicking here. Need a sample ballot? Find yours by clicking here.

And for whom am I voting?

Here’s the Stace Slate:

Lt. Governor – Mike Collier

Attorney General – Rochelle Garza

Comptroller – Angel Luis Vega

Land Commissioner – Sandragrace Martinez

Judge, 185th District – Jason Luong (Incumbent)

Judge, 208th District – No Recommendation

Judge, 312th Family District – Clinton “Chip” Wells (Incumbent)

Judge, County Civil Court #4 – Treasea Treviño

County Commissioner, Precinct 4 – Lesley Briones

Races not on my ballot, but maybe on yours.

Justice of the Peace, Pct 1, Place 2 – Sonia Lopez

Congress, District 38 – Diana Martinez Alexander

State Rep, District 147 – Danielle Keys Bess

Others further away.

Congress, District 28 – Jessica Cisneros

Bexar County Judge – Ina Minjarez

Tollways to Trailways Approved by County

La Leona

ABC-13 and others reported on this new plan from the Harris County Toll Road Authority to spend $53 million on connecting 236 miles of hike and bike trails along the Sam Houston Tollway.

According to Commissioner and avid cyclist Rodney Ellis, expending money from toll road surplus monies for this work is in compliance with the statute that created the Toll Road Authority as it improves accessibility, safety and transportation. Connecting the trails would provide, in the long run, an opportunity for an 80 mile loop around the region.

It is definitely something that is needed as Houston competes with the Central Texas region which is creating a San Antonio to Austin trail which runs for 100 miles and would connect the Great Springs of the region, including Barton, San Marcos, Comal, and San Antonio springs. Like HCTRA’s, this is a long-term project. No doubt, such projects create opportunities for economic development and tourism, not to mention healthier communities.

As far as paying for it, the 2 right-wing, naysaying commissioners who voted against it feel that the toll road authority wasn’t created for this purpose. But alternate transportation on 2 or 3 wheels is still transportation and we need to get beyond Cagle and Ramsey’s concrete and air pollution thinking.

Personally, I like the idea as we need more connected trails out here on the West side of town and the trails/lanes need to reach inward toward the Galleria area (my neighborbood). That means we need a new County Commissioner who actually listens to the people to work with a supportive city government. Precinct 4 is not well-represented at the moment, as Cagle’s no vote on so many Dem-supported programs tells us. La Leona, my Trident Trikes recumbent trike, is ready for some new trails and connectors.

We are learning just how important elections are, and a Democratic majority on the Harris County Commissioner’s Court must remain for these innovative programs to continue.

DCs Weekly COVID-19 Report

Because everyone else seems to be ignoring the COVID-creep that continues.

Houston Health reported yesterday that the 14-day positivity rate is now at 6.1% and the wastewater load is now at 91%. People are still dying. Houston Health still calls it “low,” but at what point does it become “moderate”? I wish they’d tell us so we know how foolish we can act before calming down when it’s too late. (Yes, that was snark.)

Speaking of, some locally popular folks are testing positive lately–even a popular doctor who helps develop vaccines and a County Commish. I wake up this morning and find out even Kelly (from Kelly and Ryan) has it! I wish them well. And I also wish they’d stop jumping into unmasked COVID-y crowds.

Me, I wake up with bad allergies and wonder if some unmasked fool at Walgreens coughed on me or if the unmasked woman in the electric cart at Kroger who had a coughing fit in the baking aisle infected me. Because I mask all the time, especially in crowded places with people I don’t know. But you just never know when it’s going to hit you. And while “vax’d and boosted” may save you from the worst, we still don’t know what can happen to a person post-COVID infection. It’s the long COVID and effects of this inflammatory disease that can be scary. And no one seems to take this aspect of it seriously.

Needless to say, Joe Biden needs to send more free tests and Congress needs to fund more COVID-19-related healthcare services for the uninsured. Better yet, universal healthcare all of the time!

Anyway, mask-up. Stay clean. If you call yourself a “leader,” be a freakin’ example and wear a mask if you feel the need to post selfies from crowded events.

And that’s todays COVID-19 report of disappointment.

COVID-19 Creep-Up Continues

Yesterday, the City of Houston reported that the 14-day average in COVID testing positivity has reached 4.4% and the wastewater load is at 79%. They call it “low,” but there is no doubt that the creep-up continues.

It’s not surprising that this is happening. Masks seem to have come off for most at stores and especially at large events. With the mask mandates on public transportation coming off, I see more and more unmasked folks at Park and Ride buses headed for the ‘burbs.

Why should we be worried? Well, at one point in time, the World Heath Organization called 5% positivity too high; high enough to tell governments to consider stronger restrictions. Some would say that things are different since we have vaccines which lessen symptoms for some people and we have a high number of people who have already been infected, but with variants still creating themselves, anything can happen. And, oh yeah, some of us don’t want to get COVID-19–even with “mild” symptoms.

Speaking of anything can happen, Texas Democratic candidate for Governor Beto O’Rourke self-reported that he has tested positive. Talk about unsurprising. He’s the type of candidate that literally throws himself into a crowd. That it didn’t happen sooner is the more surprising part of this story. While O’Rourke states he “tests frequently,” testing doesn’t help you not get it, nor does it stop you from spreading it while you wait to “surprisingly” test positive. Masking up and requiring masks at your events does–at least it lessens the risk.

As someone who has always sought examples on how not to get COVID-19 from our leaders, I’m disappointed that many continue to push the envelope, mixing in with larger crowds, exercising close contact, etc. If a skinny, boosted, healthy, and well-insured dude can get it (Beto), imagine someone with comorbidities and/or immunocompromised systems. And I do see these folks in all the FB event pics.

There are ways to participate in “the re-opening” that do not expose you to COVID-19. But people seem to refuse even that. Meanwhile, these kind of events lead to workplace exposures and that just increases the probability of spread, not to mention negatively affecting the economy and productivity. If that sounds familiar, it’s what we went through early on. Two years later, one would figure we would know how to act.

Anyway, that’s today’s COVID-19 report of disappointment.

THIS JUST IN: The VP has it, too.

Update 4/27/22: Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia reports she tested positive.

I Know We Are Happy, But…

Kuff tells us about the indictment of the local right-wing purveyor of hormone and “Low-T” shots whose involvement in the vehicular assault and illegal detention in the name of voter fraud by a former cop he hired now has him indicted for the same crime.

From the Chron:

Through a group called Liberty Center for God and Country, Hotze funded a private investigation into a conspiracy theory that Democrats had collected hundreds of thousands of fraudulent ballots, prosecutors have alleged. The group paid (Mark) Aguirre, a disgraced former Houston police captain, $266,400 to investigate the claims.

and

The vast majority of the money from Hotze’s group, $211,400, arrived to Aguirre one day after the alleged assault, previous grand jury subpoenas showed.

Needless to say, a lot of folks are happy to see one of the wealthiest and whiniest republinuts in town in trouble for something after bankrolling all sorts anti-Dem, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-COVID Vax, and anti-anything progressive campaigns and conspiracy theories.

The problem is when you have a local DA who’s in the news for using her office for political purposes whether against the County Judge or a local District Judge, well, cases in which gun violence and politics mix are sure to get tainted, or questioned before the public square.

Still, I’m sure all sorts of folks, including republicans who want some sort of “normal” right-winger behavior, will be watching this story intently.

Is COVID-19 Creeping Back Up?

Based on folks running around at various unmasked, high-attendance indoor events, I’m pretty sure no one has noticed the COVID-19 positivity rate creeping up these last couple of weeks. Houston Health Department reported this morning “slight” increases from last week’s rate, but they still call it “low” at 3.5%.

The City of Philadelphia noticed their cases creeping up and has decided to reinstate its mask mandate in a week while hospitalizations remain low in order to keep them that way. As their Mayor Tenney stated, “Our city remains open; we can still go about our daily lives and visit the people and places we love while masking in indoor public spaces.”

And that’s the general attitude that we have needed here in Texas, but leaders–elected and community–have failed us by going around unmasked to mass events as if this thing is over. They have failed to be an example of what leadership is while proclaiming themselves leaders. I always chuckle when I see their social media posts.

The Gridiron Club dinner in DC where 72 attendees, including members of Congress left infected, is an example of what can occur in an instant when one jumps right into an unmasked event. One member of Congress stated he avoided COVID-19 these last two years only to get it by going unmasked while boosted. In other words, if you’re around an infected person, you can get it.

Thank your shots and boosters all you want, the goal should still remain to NOT get sick, rather than getting it and spreading it to vulnerable loved ones, while still surviving yourself.

To further make this point about caring about the vulnerable–the elderly, the immunocompromised, those with comorbidities–here’s a good op-ed from the NYTimes, which points to the lack of caring for vulnerable populations at all levels of government and now in both parties in this race to re-open.

After a couple of weeks of watching the positivity rate go below 2%, I dove into society a little, attending a lunch with friends in a nice uncrowded restaurant, I ate lunch at Dot’s with family on the way to Hobby (a little scarier because it was packed), and I ate lunch at a restaurant in Sharpstown (Taqueria Mexico Lindo) to enjoy some menudo and tripas tacos. I walked into all places masked, masked up when the staff came to the table, but unmasked while eating. It’s still a scary experience for me because I tend to trust no one. Still, I enjoyed myself. But I think I’m done once again while this creep-up occurs. At the very least, I’ll stay masked wherever I go.

I was hoping to time my 2nd booster for the next color-code change, but I may need to do it sooner.

If you’re indoors, mask-up. Get double boosted. Keep clean. No one is telling you to shut things down, but just be cognizant of how you can affect your loved ones. It’s about personal responsibility.

Kuff has more.

Abbott Calls For Volunteer Migrants to Self-Deport From Texas

Another Abbott border boondoggle? Or is it a show of bigotry and idiocy? Probably both.

Greg Abbott called a press show to announce a new program to bus migrants to Washington, DC to drop them off at Joe Biden’s (and America’s) front yard so that he can deal with them.

What sounded like a pretty bigoted shit-show worsened when reality set in.

The governor’s office clarified that the program is completely voluntary for migrants and would happen only after they had been processed and released by the Department of Homeland Security. And in addition to buses, Abbott also ordered the state to charter flights to transport migrants to the nation’s capital. The migrants would have to show documentation that they had already been processed by DHS. Many immigration advocates have noted that providing transportation services for asylum-seekers to reach their final destination is something the state should invest in.

Abbott’s announcement led to immediate criticism from both his left and his right. Immigration rights groups said his rhetoric was still dangerous.

No doubt, when I thought about it, I thought it a great idea. These are recently released migrants, not migrants caught by Abbott’s border initiative, which includes local Sheriff’s offices. Because one way or another, migrants must be released by the yokels and the smokies to DHS/Border Patrol for processing. DHS then releases them from border area facilities to the towns in which they are located. A free ride to parts east where there is a need for exploitable and cheap labor would be a big help all-around, right?

Still, the underlying reasons are obvious and the whole program is a dangerous one.

Small border towns have been having a freak-out as the Trump/Biden Title 42 rule, which blames migrants for COVID and not Abbott’s unmasking and unvax’ing of Texas, is on the verge of ending in the next few weeks; thus, a surge is expected at the border and from DHS releases of processed migrants. So, it’s obvious this is part of a “response” from Abbott.

Fortunately, both the left and the right are calling it an empty gesture.

State Rep. Mary González, D-El Paso, vice chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus denounced Abbott’s announcement as a political stunt.

“Instead of using our tax dollars to drive economic growth and build infrastructure, Governor Abbott is funding political stunts at the expense of Texas families and our troops.”

Let’s get serious, though. The Biden administration has had every opportunity to continue making changes by executive order to our Nation’s asylum process and the overall immigration process. Lawsuits from the right, be damned! Meanwhile, Congress and Justice continues lollygagging with another failed prosecution attempt of Trump, instead of pushing immigration legislation, even in piecemeal fashion.

What some call a immigration crisis, or worse, an “invasion,” is caused by migrant’s home countries run by dictators and drug kingpins who on the daily threaten innocent people. They are left with no choice but to leave their home countries for land considered safer. So, it is not an immigration crisis as much as it is US foreign policy that bolsters right-wing and corrupt government in Latin America. Ultimately, it all becomes a human rights crisis when migrants go hunted by people like Greg Abbott and Biden’s corrupt border patrol for profit.

Wholesale change is needed, but no one wants to do anything substantive. So, this kind of crisis at the border will continue while borders are open for other lighter skinned folks from other violence-torn countries on the other side of the world.

Judge Hidalgo Puts Us Back At Yellow

Congrats to all those who are not at-risk or immunocompromised and have been given the green light to move about unmasked at mass events. County Judge Lina Hidalgo has lowered the color code to yellow. People have been living on green, attending unmasked events, and not really paying attention to anything regarding COVID, though. But, congrats anyway.

Me? I look forward to my almost weekly visits with a family member who is immunocompromised, so, I do everything possible to not get infected. That means no mass, unmasked events with people I don’t know or trust to be safe. That means masking up with KN-95 and KF-94s at work, at the store, amongst people, etc. That means if you must see me, I’ll probably be double-masked!

Thankfully, I really like my family members. We make great food together. We even have our own house band and make great music. Studio quality if the booze is flowing. It’s what’s important to me.

Anyway, back to my normal. As, the Judge said, “stay vigilant.”

COVID Happenings

CDC will extend mask mandate on public transport (planes and trains and buses) through April 18. Republinuts are suing, obviously, since they don’t care about anyone. Unfortunately, they cite “science” in their defense. The same science that leaves at-risk and immunocompromised people vulnerable with weakened color codes, I guess.

Anyway, good luck to all.

Back At Orange; CDC Unmasking

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has placed us back at COVID-19 Level Orange.

BREAKING: I’ve just lowered our COVID19 Threat Level Indicator from Level 1: Red to Level 2: Orange, as cases/ICU populations are decreasing. We’re moving in the right direction but we can always see another wave. Please get vaxxed and boosted, and help us keep the virus at bay.

Just in time for the OmicRodeo! Not that any warnings or suggestions would have done anything to keep people masked or distanced at crowded places like NRG. We’ve been on our own the whole damn time to do the right thing and have failed miserably, especially Texas-wide.

Today, the CDC begins to unmask America.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday will announce a change to the metrics it uses to determine whether to recommend face coverings, shifting from looking at COVID-19 case counts to a more holistic view of risk from the coronavirus to a community. Under current guidelines, masks are recommended for people residing in communities of substantial or high transmission — roughly 95% of U.S. counties, according to the latest data.

The new metrics will still consider caseloads, but also take into account hospitalizations and local hospital capacity, which have been markedly improved during the emergence of the omicron variant. That strain is highly transmissible, but indications are that it is less severe than earlier strains, particularly for people who are fully vaccinated and boosted. Under the new guidelines, the vast majority of Americans will no longer live in areas where indoor masking in public is recommended, based on current data.

No doubt, there will be more confusion. That’s OK, even the bluest of states and cities want to pretend the pandemic is over and are getting rid of masks. Or, at least confusing people as to whether masks are required, recommended, or go fuck yourself.

Anyway, we’re still at CODE RED at DC HQ. We wear N-95, KN-95 and KF-94 masks in all places with breathing people, sometimes with a cloth mask over it just because we have some pretty cool cloth masks that we still want to show off. And we breathe just fine and don’t whine about it. We work in places with weak masking and vaccination regs thanks to the bad leadership of Greg Abbott and others, thus, keeping us on a testing regimen whenever some unmasked fool breathes on us. All these threats with no support for our family members who are immunocompromised–whether from workplaces or our government, or even friends/family who insist on going to mass events unmasked.

Yes, COVID-19 is here to stay, they just haven’t thrown the word “endemic” at us locally like they have in California; at least, not officially.

The Weather Changes; COVID-19 Remains

As one more weather change hits us today, after a few that have kept our coat closets confused, this is a reminder the COVID-19 is still among us.

Yes, as the Texas Trib Coronavirus tracker tells us, cases in schools have dropped dramatically, as have hospitalizations. Unfortunately, the City of Laredo is going through a fourth surge and deaths have reached 82,000 statewide. Also, thanks to Greg Abbott and Republican spread of misinformation, Texas is still less than 60% fully vaccinated, with nine million Texans walking around unvax’d.

Meanwhile, Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration to end the mask mandate on airplanes, thus making them flying death tubes again. All in the name of “freedumb” with no regard for the lives of other Texans.

The CDC, though, does not fall far behind as the warnings are going out that they may change mask guidance as they try to take credit for the numbers decreasing. 49 out of 50 states have weakened their mask requirements and states like California are now moving toward an endemic response to COVID-19, admitting that COVID-19 is here to stay.

A disease reaches the endemic stage when the virus still exists in a community but becomes manageable as immunity builds.

Unfortunately, there are no plans on how to keep the immunosuppressed safe. It’s all about money and keeping whiny, uncaring people unmasked and/or unvax’d, and happy.