Category Archives: Health Care

Code Orange = Strong Encouragement, Unfortunately

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo elevated the county’s COVID-19 code to ORANGE as hospitals address a significant spike in cases. Orange means “minimize all contacts unless fully vaccinated,” but is that even enough, now?

As I stated previously, I felt uneasy about the Biden/CDC’s unmasking of the vaccinated. Things just looked too comfortable and it certainly didn’t encourage those who needed to mask. Maskholes are still maskholes and I didn’t feel society should be rewarded, yet.

Maybe I preferred the visual of people acting responsibly, rather than the one of unmasked mass (and smaller) events leaving me to wonder what the vaccination rate was in the room. Thankfully, Judge Hidalgo called for masking to return.

Hidalgo said by not wearing masks, even those who are vaccinated are “normalizing” not wearing masks for those who are unvaccinated. She also reminded the vaccinated they can still spread the virus to the unvaccinated, who can get sicker from the virus.

KHOU 7.23.2021

That last line may have been a mild reference to breakthrough cases.

Another unfortunate matter is the fact that all the elevated code does is allow Judge Hidalgo and other leaders to strongly encourage good behavior rather than mandating it, thanks to Greg Abbott’s lack of compassion. Re-opening with little to no precautionary guidance is what has taken us backwards. Schools are reopening soon, and some universities are already open as students get ready to return, and Abbott is allowing bad behavior to exist–no masking, light encouragement of vaccinations if one chooses, etc. These education systems have a responsibility to practice good behavior despite having a crappy leader.

Although right-wing misinformation clearly exists on the airwaves, I found it encouraging to suddenly see more people in my area of town masking and acting responsibly, at stores and even while walking outdoors. Although it was just a tiny moment and area, I hope it continues all over.

As Kuff mentions in his post about the color code change, COVID-19 testing may become an issue as testing has been scaled down. It became pretty obvious to me when I saw an actual line of walk-up clients at a tiny testing temporary building (think 8×8 converted container) in front of the Aldi on Westheimer.

Anyway, mask-up, wash hands, stay vigilant. And tell your unvax’d people to get vax’d or you’re cutting them off.

Now, It’s About Personal Responsibility

“We’re past the time of government mandates, we’re into the time for personal responsibility, and that’s exactly what we will do,” said, Greg Abbott, the governor who didn’t mandate much of anything during the pandemic and helped cause over 50,000 COVID-19 deaths in Texas

Or, as Kuff starkly reminds everyone, “You’re on your own.”

Greg Abbott will not be mandating mask-wearing, not even for the least vaccinate–school kids.

“Everyone has had more than a year to master all the safe strategies that they can choose what’s best for them and their family members,” said the governor who has seldom encouraged safe strategies, particularly at all his campaign-like press conferences.

Meanwhile, the medical experts are predicting a fourth COVID-19 surge. More than half the state is unvaccinated because Greg Abbott reminds everyone that it’s their right to not get it. And it seems personal responsibility is the last thing on people’s minds as they are everywhere unmasked and in mass gatherings.

That’s today’s update on Texas government ineptitude.

Greg Abbott’s Gitmo Begins Housing Migrants for Trespassing

As I posted recently, part of Greg Abbott’s border boondoggle is to arrest immigrants who cross into private property along the border, while escaping violence and poverty in their own countries with no other place to go, and charge them with trespassing. Yes, state charges so that they may be kept in his very own state-run immigrant warehouse in Dilley, TX. And it has begun–Greg Abbott’s very own Guantanamo. [In the process, they lose the possibility of other benefits, like a green card or any future citizenship because of the way they are railroaded through the criminal court system.]

The Val Verde County sheriff’s office said the Briscoe detainees had been arrested on accusations of criminal trespassing. County officials previously said state police would begin arresting immigrants crossing the border, largely on trespassing and criminal mischief charges — both misdemeanors that could result in up to a year in jail. It’s a novel approach ordered by Abbott to allow state and local law enforcement officers to arrest immigrants for state crimes, since they have no jurisdictional power to arrest someone accused of the federal crime of crossing the border illegally.

“If you cross the river, and almost everyone down there has posted ‘no trespassing’ signs, so once you cross and get on the property, you will be picked up and taken to jail for trespassing,” Val Verde County Judge Lewis Owens said last week.

The judge, a Democrat, said Border Patrol agents have apprehended more than 149,000 immigrants in the Del Rio sector alone this fiscal year, the second most after the Rio Grande Valley, according to federal statistics. Hundreds of others evade detection by crossing further away from major entry points, often traversing private land, frightening landowners not used to such levels of migration, Owens said.

Texas Tribune 7/21/2021

And are Democrats going to roll over for Abbott on this? Obviously, Democratic Sheriffs and Judges seem to be salivating over this easy work as they get some prize money, This is a disgusting waste of resources that is all for show. Imprisoning people in need of help for political purposes is as close to violating ones human rights as it gets.

Aside from meeting housing standards at Briscoe, Val Verde County Attorney David Martinez said this week that space and resources under Abbott’s directive will be a problem. His office has two prosecutors, with a third coming in two weeks, and the local jail was full in early July, the sheriff told county commissioners.

Martinez said arrested immigrants would be taken to a tent-like structure outside the jail in Del Rio for processing before heading to Briscoe within 24 hours. He said he would offer most arrested on misdemeanor charges a sentence of time served once they get through the criminal justice system, which he estimated would take about 10 days, and then they would be handed off to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where many would likely be quickly deported. ​​

“This is going to be very grating on everyone in the process,” he said. “If we start seeing numbers of 50-plus a day of arrests, we could easily be consumed by it.”

Texas Tribune, 7/21/2021

I await a response from statewide prospective Democrats. Beto? Merritt? Jaworski? The Texas Lege Dems in DC? Anyone?

And Then There Was Lambda

All the COVID-19 numbers in Houston, Texas, and the US are doing more than “trending in the wrong direction.” They are on the verge of…something. And, now, the Lambda variant is in Houston, because the Delta variant and COVID-classic just isn’t enough. And, yes, the vast majority are people who did not get vaccinated. But…

According to a CDC report, there have already been over 5,000 breakthrough cases around the country; meaning, the fully vaccinated. And due credit is given to having taken the vaccine by those who are only experiencing mild symptoms and not dying, but I’m of the opinion that the Biden/CDC should have split the difference on the guidelines by including a strong suggestion (if not mandate) for mask-wearing indoors, even if vaccinated. The suggestion that the vax’d could go anywhere unmasked just seemed too soon and politically motivated, in my opinion.

…the agency reported 5,492 patients nationwide with COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough infections had been hospitalized or died. According to the CDC, 75% of those patients were 65 or older and 19% of the cases resulted in death.

KHOU

Some will say that this is a tiny fraction of Americans, but that has been the Trumpian response to the entire pandemic. So, let’s just say I don’t get the warm and fuzzies when my side of the aisle says it either.

So, if you’re vaccinated, jump into a big crowd while unmasked, and get infected (with mild symptoms), you may end up infecting other unmasked, yet vaccinated, elderly folks in your family. Just food for thought while you attend unmasked concerts, social club parties, etc. Some may call me alarmist, but I’m just trying my damnest not to get sick of anything. Plus the docs and medical staff on TV are looking pretty worried and that’s always been an indication of things when leaders are avoiding reality.

Others affected and among those who died include those who are immunocompromised because of cancer, transplant, or autoimmune disease. I’ve already mentioned the need for boosters for this particular group of Americans. I wish there was more information on antibody testing to see if the first two (or one) shots took, on how to obtain a booster, and just plain ol’ information to reach this group for their own safety as it is estimated that they make up 3% of the population (probably more). It seems like the CDC is finally beginning to “consider” boosters for this group. For immunocompromised folks who have been informed and proactive, they are way ahead of the CDC and have had to go through hoops to get a booster after finding out the original shots didn’t take. If you’re among them, I’d suggest you get some advice from your specialist.

That’s OK, though, we’re offering prizes to convince the unvaccinated to get a shot. Apologies for the snark, but I’m really bothered by some stat I read that says 2/3 of the unvaccinated are anti-vax maskholes.

The latest Texas numbers show an increase in the weekly average of vaccinations. That’s good. Unfortunately, test positivity is above 10% statewide, and hospitalizations have also increased. While July 4 weekend has been cited as a cause for the latest numbers, one only has to see the nonchalant attitude of workplaces, grocery and big box stores, and entertainment venues to get an idea of what is to come.

At this point, I wish our leaders would add a push for mask wearing to the push for vaccination. “You won’t die” doesn’t help much, even if our Texas Lege heroes who are trying to save our democracy in DC are pushing that narrative after at least five of them contracted COVID-19. As proud of them as I have been, every unmasked selfie and crowded group photo sent a chill down my spine to the point where I am not surprised the infections happened. The last few pics some have posted have included masks, though.

Here’s hoping vaccinations continue to increase as we head toward schools reopening, too. The 12 to adult group is still lagging.

As always, if you’re within a big group of people, mask-up, distance, keep clean, etc. You all know the drill. At least I hope you haven’t forgotten as you have vaccinated, unmasked fun.

LA County Reinstates Indoor Mask Mandate

I was glad to see LA County (CA) being proactive as the COVID-19 positivity and hospitalization numbers are seeing an increase. LA County has reinstated an indoor mask mandate, no matter what ones vaccination status is.

Given recent news of breakthrough cases among famous people (Fluffy) who have dived into the unmasked/unvax’d masses, I think it’s a good idea. I think strong encouragement by our local leaders would also help, since Gomer Fife, Texas Ranger (The Governor) would stop any real mask mandate.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo posted on FB that things are trending in the wrong direction and that people need to get vaccinated. Unfortunately, there was no sounding of an alarm, yet.

Still considered rare, breakthrough cases have shown the vaccines’ effectiveness at preventing severe illness and hospitalization. Comedian Fluffy Iglesias credited the vaccine to his symptoms being mild. Still, some of us don’t want to get COVID-19 or its variants and would rather feel safer than “not as sick as the unvaccinated infected.” Of course, there are also the immunocompromised to think about, but they seem to be the last on the priority list.

Anyway, I implore folks to run their own mask mandate–wear a mask in crowded places and tell those around you to wear one, whether in social gatherings or at work. Don’t allow your bosses and co-workers and those around you to dictate based on their personal feelings, thus, forcing you to feel unsafe. It is happening and there is nothing more annoying than hearing someone tell you, “Oh, I guess you can wear a mask.”

I’m not sure how any more people want to get vaccinated, given the number of unvax’d maskholes in Texas, but those that do not have access need to become a priority. While there are areas in Texas where vaccination rates are dismal (Kuff has more), numbers mean a lot more than percentages here in Harris County and half of the county is still not vaccinated.

If you or anyone needs a vaccine, find a location here.

The Delta Variant Is Real

As I see certain local groups having unmasked mass events and Tejano music concerts filling up venues, I wonder: What’s the vaccination rate in the room?

For me, vaccination has not affected my mask-wearing as much. I still wear it while at the store or at places with a lot of people. Even during a ride on the trails when humans would mass up in certain areas, the mask gets pulled up. Given Harris County’s 50% fully vax’d rate, I’m not too trusting of anyone who gets in front of me.

The other day, I sort of left my guard down when I was at a restaurant (my first time) for a quick lunch during a med center area visit and actually removed my mask to eat. It was 30 minutes of nervous chewing and wondering if the maskless coming in the door were vax’d or anti-vax maskholes.

Obviously, I took the original COVID-19 seriously from the get-go. Even stocking up on Elderberry gummies to maybe pump up my immune system while waiting for my shot. After vaccination, I’ve still been careful, I’m still exercising, and other than the restaurant visit, still cooking at home. But the Delta variant has me nervous. And back on elderberry gummies.

While the government worries about vaxxing the unvax’d door-to-door (Biden wants to vaccinate people; Republicans want more death), I wonderered how being around those fools (those that choose unvax/unmasked life) would affect me, the vax’d one. Well, I’ve always known that the COVID-19 vaccine was not made to make one immune as much as it was made to reduce chances of hospitalization and death. So, the vaccinated can still get infected, though, the effects may not be as bad. Maybe. Bottom line: I don’t want it and the only way to reduce my chances of getting it is mass vaccination. Yes, even door-to-door to reach those with no access to vaccines. The idiots who whine and moan about masks and shots? They’re a lost cause and I still walk around them at the stores and in life.

So, I’m still not attending large, unmasked events. Even to Democratic Party events whose members seem to have a higher vaccination rate than most other groups. As the majority of people are going back to the office and vaccination rates stall, we cannot let our guard down. Mask up at work–even if your boss is walking around as if invincible. Alas, even the Biden administration’s rush to re-open has convinced many more that they are now invincible, if vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Pfizer and Moderna are now calling for vaccine booster shots for those who have already been vaccinated because of the increase in Delta variant cases and how fast it spreads. And because the effectiveness of the shots wanes after time passes. Sure, you may avoid hospitalization and death, but, again, you can still get infected and spread it to the unvax’d and others. The CDC (and Biden’s) nonchalant attitude toward this call for boosters worries me. Sure, they have the unvax’d to worry about, still, but some of us who were so responsible that we were online for hours searching for vaccines early on wouldn’t mind a boost.

And, don’t even get me started on folks who are immunocompromised, some who are already on a hard-to-get booster with hopes that its effectiveness lasts. There is a segment of the US population that lives in fear, but we don’t hear much about them from anyone at any level of government.

Anyway, I’m still masking. I’m still distancing. And I’m still playing it safe and avoiding large crowds, especially anti-vax maskholes.

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.