Category Archives: Health Care

Early Voting Has Begun – Oct 18 – 29, 2021

Early Voting around Harris County has begun and will run through October 29, 2021. You can vote early at any location in Harris County. You can find your sample ballot by clicking here.

On the ballot are eight (8) state propositions and you may also have local school and college board trustee races on your ballot, so, your sample ballot is the best way to find out what’s up.

My ballot will look like this:

State Propositions (Ballotpedia Explains The Propositions)

Prop 1 – Adds pro rodeo foundations to list authorized to hold raffles. (FOR)

Prop 2 – Allows counties to issue bonds to finance redevelopment of towns and cities. (FOR)

Prop 3 – Forbids local government from prohibiting or limiting religious services (when something like COVID-19 or some sort of disaster occurs and the decision is made for the protection of residents). (AGAINST) (Explanation)

Prop 4 – Changes the eligibility requirements for judges to run for office. (FOR)

Prop 5 – Extends State Commission on Judicial Conduct’s power over judicial candidates. (FOR)

Prop 6 – Allows group home residents to name an essential caregiver with visiting rights. (FOR)

Prop 7 – Allows surviving spouses, 55 or older, of disabled persons a limit on school district property taxes. (FOR)

Prop 8 – Allows surviving spouse of military member killed in action to a property tax exemption. (FOR)

ALIEF ISD

Position 4 – Debby Pepper (Endorsed by TSTA)

Position 5 – Randal Stewart

Position 6 – Ronald Franklin (Endorsed by TSTA)

Position 7 – Damon Barone (Endorsed by TSTA)

Bond Prop A – FOR (Bond Descriptions)

Bond Prop B – FOR

Bond Prop C – FOR

Bond Prop D – FOR


While I do not reside in Houston ISD, I do have some favorites.

District I – Elizabeth Santos

District V – Sue Deigaard

District VI – Holly Flynn Vilaseca

District VII – Anne Sung

And, while I await the outcome of whatever is going on with my own HCC trustee, my favorites for whom I am not able to vote are:

HCC District 3 – Adriana Tamez

HCC District 8 – Eva Loredo

Get your voting done early. Otherwise, you can vote on November 2.

Greg Abbott Is Evil…The Next Chapter

It’s all a show, really. Greg Abbott’s death mandates to ban vaccination mandates are all for show. At this point, even with slowed vaccination rates, all Greg Abbott is doing is speaking to what’s left of his base that is yet to get vaccinated. I’m pretty sure most of his actual campaign check-writers are vax’d, since they all enjoy taking advantage of the stupid and right-wing.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday issued another executive order cracking down on COVID-19 vaccine mandates — this time banning any entity in Texas, including private businesses, from requiring vaccinations for employees or customers.

Abbott also called on the Legislature to pass a law with the same effect, promising to rescind the executive order once that happenedThe Legislature is in this year’s third special legislative session, which ends Oct. 19.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, & our best defense against the virus, but should always remain voluntary & never forced.”

Gee, Greg, you’re talking out of both ends of your body.

I agree with Kuff that it seems like a childish tantrum to whine and moan about President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination order affecting companies with 100+ employees. The reality is that there is no whining when it comes to all the other vaccines children are required to obtain.

While GOP officials are pushing back against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, the state has allowed other kinds of vaccine mandates in public schools and universities for years.

Texas public schools require K-12 students to get vaccinated for tetanus; polio; measles, mumps and rubella; hepatitis B; chickenpox; meningitis and hepatitis A. College students are required to receive a meningitis vaccination, too. Health care and veterinary students are required to get additional vaccines for rabies, tetanus-diphtheria and hepatitis B.

For Abbott, this is all a response to Biden winning the election, proving again that he is a failure as a governor. Meanwhile, the State of Texas is only 52% vaccinated against COVID-19, over 68,000 have died under Greg Abbott’s failed leadership, and people are still getting sick and suffering.

This is a reminder that, in Texas, since Day 1, we have been on our own. I’d also add that there’s an election in 2022, but we need an announced viable candidate to get excited about that.

Death Rate Soars Among Latinos in Harris County

And, yes, it is because of COVID-19.

Harris County Public Health District Deputy Director Gwen Sims said in 2020 the death rate among Hispanics jumped 46.6 percent from the previous year of which 22 percent of deaths were contributed to COVID-19.

County Commissioner Adrian Garcia said they must address disparities affecting this group and it starts with getting vaccinated.

Garcia said COVID-19 vaccine will save lives.

“It’s not like a hurricane where swift waters are taking someone and we we’re trying to figure out where’s the rope, where’s the ladder, who is the first responders to dive in and rescue a life,” Garcia said. “We can rescue lives today by those who are not vaccinated stepping forward.”

No doubt, the vaccination rate among Latinos in Harris County could be better, while Latinos also make up almost 30 percent of Harris County’s COVID-19 positivity these last few weeks. The weekly percentage of total residents of Harris County getting vaccinated has held steady at around 46% for Latinos. Almost half of vaccinations are going to residents age 12 to 29, according to the weekly average stats.

And Garcia brings up a good point that access to health care is a major issue in all of this as Latino deaths of all causes also rose 22%. Which means, if Latinos do not have access to take care of illnesses and comorbidities that are exacerbated by COVID-19, things will not improve.

I guess it’s a good time to remind Greg Abbott that expanding Medicaid will help in this regard. I guess we should remind voters, too, that Greg Abbott has done nothing but help worsen the death rate among all Texans.

Anyway, get vaccinated, mask up, and stay away from crowds and people outside of your circle.

Everyone Gets A Booster?

The Biden Administration is set to announce that most Americans will need a booster of the COVID-19 vaccine after data has shown the vaccine’s effects begin to wane after eight months, as well as the fact that the Delta variant has taken hold of this country in a very scary way. The shots would not occur until the Fall.

The conclusion that boosters will be broadly needed was reached after intense discussions last weekend involving high-ranking officials who scrutinized the latest data from the United States and other countries on the effectiveness of the shots.

The statement is a striking change from public statements by senior officials in recent months who had said it was far too soon to conclude that Americans would need booster shots. In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA put out an unusual statement that said, “Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time.” Officials have repeatedly said it wasn’t clear whether boosters would be needed.

But in recent days, the messaging has started to change. As data from other countries and in the United States showed waning immunity, health officials moderated their language, hinting booster shots would be likely. Last week, Anthony S. Fauci, the White House chief medical adviser, said it was “likely” everyone will need a coronavirus booster at some point.

I am sure the medical science community feels vindicated after getting push-back from government entities like the CDC. Many of the articles that pushed back on boosters were promoting the effectiveness of the one or two-shot vaccines in ensuring people did not end up hospitalized or dead. For many of us, that just wasn’t enough as those of us who have supported boosters just don’t want to get sick.

Add to that the fact that half of the country has illnesses, comorbidities, or are immunocompromised, and reality starts to set in that a booster is needed; especially with the Delta and other variants becoming highly transmissible.

The recent decision that the immunocompromised, those taking cancer medications, and others with serious illness would qualify for a booster was welcome news last week. While for some of these individuals, it is being called a booster, for many it is really a third attempt at a shot because many did not create antibodies from the first two shots.

Here’s a harsh reality:

People with conditions that weaken the immune system are also far more likely to have a breakthrough infection than people in more normal health. One U.S. study shows 40% to 44% of hospitalized breakthrough cases are in immunocompromised people.

So, those who throw around numbers to scare the unvaccinated as to how few of the vaccinated are breakthrough cases are seriously leaving out those who are vaccinated and could be easily killed by a breakthrough case. Being disingenuous with data can be dangerous. Being more honest about the percentage of breakthrough cases among positive COVID-19 tests should be a priority, instead. And that will take the CDC and state health agencies collecting and disseminating all of the data.

Anyway, I’m glad the higher-ups are coming around to ensuring a booster (or third) vaccine for people as the unvaccinated and unmasked are still spreading the disease. Those who care about their own health should be protected.

SCOTx Ruling Affects Dallas and Bexar Mask Mandates

That’s right, the Texas Supreme Court decided to temporarily stop the mask mandates put forth by these two counties while it hears arguments from each side. School districts and other entities were not affected by this decision if their school boards and superintendents issued mask mandates for their students.

The responses coming from Attorney General Paxton and Greg Abbott show some ineptness (AG), as well as fear of a Texan revolt (Abbott).

“Let this ruling serve as a reminder to all ISDs and Local officials that the Governor’s order stands,” Paxton said in a tweet on Sunday after the ruling.

Abbott’s response to the decision was less pointed, specifying that his executive order does not prohibit mask-wearing.

“Anyone who wants to wear a masks can do so,” Abbott said in a tweet.

But some of the local officials who defied Abbott’s order said they’ll continue to fight.

Local leaders who are standing up to Greg Abbott will continue the fight. While Abbott and the republicans have politicized and monetized the pandemic for their own benefit, the leaders who are fighting back are doing it for all of the right reasons.

“We won’t stop working with parents, doctors, schools, business [and] others to protect you,” Dallas County Judge Jenkins said.

Fueled by the highly-contagious delta variant, hospitalizations have increased across the state at a pace quicker than any other point during the pandemic. Less than half of the state’s population is fully vaccinated.

Ultimately, the people of Texas must stand up for their themselves and defy Greg Abbott: Vaccinate! Wear a mask! Keep social distance! Stop mass gatherings! And keep clean! Some of us are watching which “leaders” are acting like fools and kissing up to Abbott.

Meanwhile, let’s keep an eye on these court decisions.

A Booster for the Immunocompromised?

Credit: Pinche Raf Art

It looks like the FDA is moving toward approving a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine for the immunocompromised.

Doctors say it is increasingly clear that many such patients are still vulnerable to Covid following vaccination because they may not mount an effective immune response to the shots.

No shit!

The emergency use authorization does not include fully vaccinated, otherwise healthy people; both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines have been shown to be highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death in them.

I know we are in the middle of a surge, but I’m hoping studies are being done on other groups who are known to suffer the worst effects of COVID-19 because of other medical conditions that put them in the front of the line when the roll-out began.

The same story states that the State of Mississippi had authorized a third shot for the immunocompromised without the feds. You mean states could do this?

Anyway, I know a few who have been able to get a booster by advocating for themselves and with the help of their doctors. It’s not an easy process as one has to get tested for antibodies after the first two shots. If antibodies don’t show up, then one can get a doctor’s order for a third shot. Then one has to go through the process of convincing the shot-giving agency or facility that a third shot is actually a thing, which is harder than one would think. Then, one needs to get tested for antibodies one more time just to see if the third one worked.

I’ve seen the stress that people go through. It’s stressful for families who are trying their damnest to be responsible when people are acting irresponsibly.

Let’s hope this happens soon because over 9,000,000 Americans may need this. Even more, since we are seeing more breakthrough cases occurring.

Leaders Defying Greg Abbott

It’s been heartening to see school and local leaders begin the process of standing up to Greg Abbott’s mask ban; especially as schools begin to open up to students and staff.

Bexar County and Dallas County have won temporary restraining orders that allow them to call for masking up of schools. Last night, Harris County Commissioners voted to authorize the County Attorney Menefee to attempt the same.

Both judges cited public health needs in their decisions. Arteaga said she did not take her decision lightly. She cited the start of the school year and public guidance given by Woo concerning the need for masks in public schools as the highly contagious delta variant contributes to a surge in coronavirus cases across the state. Parker, meanwhile, wrote that “Judge Jenkins cannot be precluded from implementing the mitigation strategies he believes are sound, reliable, and backed by scientific evidence.”

Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton’s responses seem to be coming out of those frontier days when their own ancestors were spreading small pox to the original inhabitants of Texas. They both choose to go full on racist and blame brown people, instead. The facts are on our side, though.

Obviously, Abbott and his minions will appeal and place children and Texans in danger.

The worsening COVID-19 numbers are telling us that we need to mask up again and follow CDC guidelines for distancing. They’ve been telling us this for a while before many wanted to admit it. Over 10,000 Texans are hospitalized and hospitals are in crisis mode regarding room availability and staffing.

Greg Abbott’s “strong encouragement” of personal responsibility is coming late as vaccination immunity will still take time to improve the situation. Action is needed now and masks are the answer to slow the spread, as well as encouraging people to stop acting like fools and filling up venues and restaurants.

Keep masking, folks. Avoid crowds. Keep clean. And if you haven’t yet, get vaccinated. The City of Houston alone has over 30 locations around the city.

Fact-Checking the Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

Whether it’s Greg Abbott (and Republicans, generally) blaming migrants for COVID-19, or the Biden Adminsitration continuing a Trump deportation policy because of COVID-19, or the Trumper Mayor of McAllen joining in, or now, a Democratic State Senator from the RGV also doing the same, along with Democratic law enforcement all over South Texas who are just seeking free money for toys and overtime pay, the bottom line is that they are full of BS.

John-Michael Torres, of the humanitarian group La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) in the Rio Grande Valley, penned an op-ed in the Rio Grande Guardian detailing actual facts about migrants entering the US seeking asylum.

Some of the highlights:

  • People seeking asylum at the border and who pass credible fear interviews and are permitted to proceed with their asylum cases in the US are the most tested and vaccinated population in Texas. The latest available numbers (page 44 of this court filing) show released migrants continue to test positive at a lower rate than Texas’s statewide rate.
  • Those migrants who need to be vaccinated are volunteering to get them from local public health officials — 90% vaccination rates in one of the largest Texas shelters — and those who require quarantine are being quarantined in shelters and hotels, per CDC guidelines. Records from the Holdings Institute, the primary shelter in Laredo, show nine out of ten of migrants volunteer to receive the vaccine (pages 43-44 of this court filing). In contrast, Texas’ general population has a disappointingly low vaccination rate: just 44%.
  • Migrants at the border in Texas make up a tiny percentage of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Texas, a state with low vaccination rates.

Here’s another one:

Texas COVID-19 positivity rate has increased, jumping to 16.9% as of July 31. That is after Governor Abbott lifted all restrictions — including mask mandates and local governments’ ability to impose their own restrictions. The state’s vaccination rate continues to lag behind the national average.

It’s sad that Democrats are joining in on the anti-immigrant whining and rhetoric considering many South Texas counties are among the least vaccinated in Texas because of Greg Abbott. It is political laziness on their part and being on the same side as our bigot governor does not help the overall cause. Instead of being educative of their constituents, they fall for the anti-immigrant whining and join in. All these years in office, some of these Democrats have become furniture that needs replacing.

Divide and conquer tactics have always been around. The tactic was effective when done by Democrats in the 70s and now when Greg Abbott is calling the plays. Appeasing racists is never a good thing.

Just Like That, We Are Back At Red

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has placed us back at COVID-19 Threat Level RED (SEVERE) as the infection and hospitalization numbers are expected to worsen.

According to the threat level system, “severe” is enacted when there is a severe and uncontrolled level of COVID-19, outbreaks are present and worsening and testing and contact tracing capacity is strained or exceeded.

Some hospital emergency rooms are indeed operating at full capacity amid the surgent and rampant spread of the highly transmissible delta variant.

It seems that those targeted by this threat level change are the unvaccinated since most cases of new infections are indeed from the unvaccinated. It calls for the unvaccinated to stay home. Seriously? But the threat does remain for the vaccinated.

“Breakthrough cases” among those who have been fully vaccinated are inevitable, especially among those without strong immune responses, Shuford said. “We know that no vaccine is perfect. They never will be.”

As I stated earlier, half of the country lives with illness, comorbidities, and/or are immunocompromised. There’s a reason why some of us were spending hours on our laptops trying to get a vaccine as soon as possible. I wish those in power would stop downplaying breakthrough cases and instead promote safety for all. Judge Hidalgo spoke to this reality that infection and spread can happen to the vaccinated, but simply targeting the unvaccinated is not enough. Hands must be held, or we are just doing a different brand of Greg Abbott’s “personal responsibility.”

While we are seeing more vaccination activity, the reality is that some are on their first shot, or on their only J&J shot and will take a couple of weeks to over a month (if 2 shots are taken) or so to reach their immune potential. I agree with the experts, like Dr. Hotez, that we need a vaccine mandate more than anything, but thanks to Greg Abbott’s “freedumb” campaign, it is not going to happen. Obviously, we need something that includes masks and other safety alternatives while the vaccinations happen.

Thankfully, Judge Hidalgo has also shown leadership in asking people to wear masks when indoors and around others, and that includes the vaccinated. At this moment, while we wait for people to reach their immune potential, masks are just about the only way to cut transmission–even a little. Either that, or stay home. For the most part, I intend to do the latter, even contemplating cancelling a vacation that I really need.

I won’t sugar coat how I feel. I’m really pissed off.

As the vaccinations were rolling out early on, I cringed at all of these vaccinated leaders appearing at events unmasked when we had not even reached 50% vaccination. Local self-proclaimed “leader” groups who claim to represent underrepresented people were hosting large events, unmasked, without even a clue as to an event’s vaccination rate when it is the underrepresented who are the least vaccinated! The White House also failed at incentivizing vaccination by unmasking the vaccinated to entice anti-vaxxers toward a shot. Hope springs eternal, but we were nowhere near a post-COVID reality.

The reality is that the unmasking of the vaccinated was too damn soon and incentivized behavior that only weeks before was considered bad or a threat to public safety. It didn’t help that businesses were opened up by Greg Abbott in the same manner with little vaccination effort on his part. You cannot declare victory when it’s not even half-time and this certainly didn’t encourage businesses to re-open slowly as everything seems to be a super-spreader, now.

As far as some of these self-proclaimed “leaders” are concerned, don’t call yourself one if you’re not willing to lead by example. And these leader failures are happening in organizations, school districts, universities, corporations, you name it. No one is willing to take a stand against Greg Abbott and right-wing republicans and for the people they are serving. And most are not leading by example when it comes to at the very least promoting and encouraging mask-wearing and vaccination. We aren’t talking shut-down, we are talking public safety.

Mayor Turner’s employee mask mandate and HISD Superintendent House’s move toward one for students have potential to spread leadership potential to others. Leaders must stand up to Greg Abbott.

The only way these recent and future vaccinations will work in the near future is if people lead today.

Kuff has more.

Stopping Boosters Is Not The Answer

The World Health Organization chief called for wealthy countries to stop the use of COVID-19 vaccine boosters while non-wealthy countries try to catch up.

“I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant. But we cannot accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it,” Tedros added.

High-income countries administered around 50 doses for every 100 people in May, and that number has since doubled, according to WHO. Low-income countries have only been able to administer 1.5 doses for every 100 people, due to lack of supply.

And it’s a sad fact that has mostly to do with greed and stupidity. Greed from companies and leaders who do not want to allow these vaccines to be reproduced by other companies, and stupidity from those who choose not to get vaccinated, thus, forcing vaccines to be tossed because they expired.

The bottom line is that there has not been much of any world cooperation in tamping down the spread of COVID-19. It doesn’t help when countries like the United States push sanctions on countries like Cuba and Venezuela that curtail vaccine development and production (as well as daily sustenance) for the sole purpose of regime change. The US makes it very clear with whom they like to work and it’s never leaders who want to actually provide for their people through “socialistic” means. They prefer doing an “aid package” in exchange for complete loyalty and unfettered access to their natural resources.

But to put the blame on “healthy people” getting a booster is a far reach by WHO. At least in America, half the country has some sort of comorbidity that could be enhanced by a breakthrough case. Another portion is immune compromised in one way or another and they are always in danger.

Just in the last few weeks, the CDC decided to “consider” if boosters are needed. But it’s good to know that another 200 million doses were ordered for children and boosters. At this point, people with medical issues must do their own leg work and find a booster themselves.

That said, there is a lot wrong with the world, and most of it begins with foreign policy imposed by the US and backed up by their nation-minions. Unfortunately, foreign policy doesn’t change no matter which party is in charge as long as their pockets are filled with defense contractor cash.

The boosters must continue to be a priority.