Category Archives: Health Care

Dr. Varon: Next Six Weeks Will Be A Dark Period

Dr. Joseph Varon of the United Memorial Medical Center, who has done a lot of good work hunting and fighting COVID-19 in underinsured and ethnic communities of Houston, stated in a recent interview with TVV in Miami that the next six weeks may be a dark period in Texas’ big cities.

Citing what is called “covid fatigue,” Varon states that people are letting down their guard as they tire of hearing about the disease, which is the reason for the uptick in infections. Varon points out that while people ignore the disease in order to have their fun, the disease is not ignoring the people.

Varon also states that if the people do not change their ways of visiting restaurants, going to concerts and gatherings, etc., it is expected that by February, 2021, there will be over 500,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States. Over 20,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Texas, thus far.

The doctor states that a big challenge in fighting COVID-19 is the information and disinformation that people get from various sources, which has led to confusion. I’ll add that certainly the outgoing occupant of the White House has made the fight more difficult. Varon adds that Texans seem to think that they are above COVID-19 and any restrictions and shut-downs because, well, we’re Texas and we prefer freedom over safety and wellness. He’s not wrong about some of these freedom-promoting idiots, which unfortunately include Texas’ governor and lt. governor.

Anyway, we must listen to the experts, like Dr. Varon, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Hotez, and the CDC. We must continue to mask-up, stay away from large gatherings, wash hands, and stay put!

IN OTHER NEWS…

Since, I’m a huge Tejano music fan, I follow a lot of the bands and happenings in the genre. Recently, I’ve noticed more concerts occurring around the state. I’ve also noticed some legendary musicians and performers announcing they’ve contracted COVID-19 while exposing other musicians. Who knows what’s happening within the crowds as there is no physical distancing and very few masks in the photos I’ve seen. The concerts need to stop. I know the livelihood of performers has been threatened and affected, but thumbing one’s nose at reality is not a long-term solution.

Biden States Case For Latino Support

credit: Alamy

Joe Biden stated his case for the Latino electorate with a lengthy article stating where he stands on issues affecting Latinos.

President Trump’s assault on Latino dignity started on the very first day of his campaign. His assault doesn’t just reveal itself in the betrayal of the Dreamers or in the pardoning of a sheriff who has terrorized the Latino community. It’s in the underfunding of schools, in attacks on labor and the ability of workers to bargain for their worth, and in the neglect of Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria. Trump’s strategy is to sow division — to cast out Latinos as being less than fully American.

Generally, he promised the following.

Biden will:

  • Invest in Latinos’ economic mobility.

  • Make far-reaching investments in ending health disparities by race.

  • Expand access to high-quality education and tackle racial inequity in our education system.

  • Combat hate crimes and gun violence.

  • Secure our values as a nation of immigrants.

Specifically, he talked about supporting a Latino museum at the Smithsonian and political appointees to his administration that will look like America. Included is a promise to expand Latino small business opportunities and jobs creation through infrastructure development. Within this, improving the treatment of workers and expanding worker protection is on his to-do list. To support Latino families, he would address lack of access to child care for essential workers and early education. Expanding Latino homeownership is on his list, too.

One important part of his plan is expanding access to health care through a public option for health insurance and ACA subsidies to make Obamacare more affordable. Most importantly, addressing the inequality experienced by the Latino community that block their access to health care. It’s not Medicare-for-all, but given his primary campaign, I didn’t expect it. Given how COVID-19 has exposed the weaknesses in health care and insurance, it should still be discussed.

In the realm of higher education, Biden is committed to increasing college graduation rates, tuition-free higher education including 2-year workforce programs, increased access to student financial aid, student debt forgiveness, investing in Hispanic-Serving Institutions, bringing HSI and HBCUs into high-tech research, among other commitments.

Pointing to Trump’s anti-immigrant nature, Biden promises to send an immigration bill to Congress on Day 1 which will modernize the immigration system and include a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million undocumented residents of the US.

On the detention side, Biden promises to decrease its use, passing on the case management responsibility to nonprofit groups while migrants go through the system. And Biden also promises to stop Trump’s policy of caging children in favor of family reunification. [I hope they aren’t reunified in family-style prisons.] Added on is a decrease in the use of 287(g) agreements to take out local law enforcement from the equation.

Really, folks, check out this article, which includes links to his policy pronouncements on his campaign website. It’s actually better than I expected, though, we will have conversations about his Latin America policy soon enough since it doesn’t seem to be any different than what Republicans offer:  More election meddling and coups in support of right-wing, murderous regimes who care little for the poor and indigenous.

Some of you will see articles about the Orange one making a play for Latinos, too. Basically, he’ll speak to the same self-hating, anti-immigrant, bigoted brown folk (including some of our relatives) who think they’re excluded from Trump’s anti-Latino hate. For some reason, they buy into it. So, Democrats should not waste time with them, instead concentrate on increasing the bottom line with folks who want a reason to vote for Democrats.

Yes, many of us feel like we’re just voting for the next guy we’ll be protesting. For sure, we will be making Biden accountable for these promises during the campaign and once in office. And another thing, Biden cannot be a repeat of the Obama years in which access for Latino activists to the White House was controlled by elitists not involved in progressive causes. Latino activists must be part of the discussion of issues, and not just inclusive of those content with invites to the White House Cinco de Mayo event and other photo ops.

And guess what? There will be Dems (brown ones included) who will be upset for the people demanding what was promised. But tough shit. We are only exercising our right to participate and to petition our government for a redress of grievances. Trump has expanded those grievances and “going back to normal” is not an option. It must be better.

The job for everyone who wants to rid us of the Orange one is to sell what Biden is offering, and NOT what Trump is doing or saying. Dems need to stop being a free ad for the Orange one where all they do is point a finger at how bad Trump is. Biden has stated his case and Dems need to back it up when trying to earn the Latino vote.

 

Latinos and COVID-19

The LA Times recently featured an article about COVID-19 in South Texas, specifically, the Rio Grande Valley. I wrote a post about bad state leadership and COVID-19 in South Texas in early May. I had hoped that people would realize that bad leadership and a pandemic do not mix and that they wouldn’t listen to awful leaders. Unfortunately, it seems to be getting worse.

We’ve all heard that it’s pretty bad down there and it is. Hospitals are overloaded, deaths are happening so often that even a transporter of bodies has earned a feature in some newspapers because of how busy he has become. For Mexican Americans and other Latinos, it is bad everywhere.

In 2015, 27% of US Latinos were uninsured. It’s safe to say that given the undocumented population and the economic effects of COVID-19, that number is even higher today. Latinos did not have access to adequate health care pre-Coronavirus. This in itself is a public policy failure, but if there was an underlying condition that caused underlying conditions to become exacerbated by COVID-19, it is the lack of access to health care and wellness.

The LA Times article quoted one of the Medical authorities in the RGV who stated that people were finding it difficult to avoid family get-togethers, especially during the season of Mother’s Day, graduations, Father’s Day, and 4th of July. An article in the NY Times also gave mention to Latino “culture” in the form of family get-togethers. In other words, events that bring families together are a cultural thing in South Texas and folks can’t seem avoid them.

Miya Shay at ABC13  reported on the Del Toro family whose patriarch contracted COVID-19, along with other members of his family, after a Father’s Day dinner.

It’s bad enough that there are failed Republicans leaders in other states who blame Hispanics for the spread of COVID-19, but let’s not forget the failed Texas leadership that downplayed COVID-19 realities and sped up a re-opening of Texas. Greg Abbott chose profits over people.

As I stated in a previous post, the people model their behavior based on the attitudes and decisions of their leaders, and Greg Abbott didn’t start panicking and reversing course until the body count started worsening in July. Until now, it was all about limited COVID-19 testing, a lack of medical resources and preparation, and fast-tracking the reopening of states. Trump continues hell-bent on reopening states and schools. Meanwhile, there are local leaders who actually are–whether in Houston or in the Valley–trying to shut down their cities, yet, are forced to add a disclaimer that their orders have no teeth because of Greg Abbott.

Well, now we are at this point where the whole state is considered a hot spot and it must be restated:  STAY HOME! And if you need to go to the grocery store or to a doctor’s appointment (and I don’t see any other reason other than essential work to leave your home), wear a mask, distance from others and wash hands. It’s not that difficult. It’s up to us. And, if you’re an essential worker, you also have a responsibility to stop the spread by practicing safe protocols and CDC guidelines beyond your work environment.

In other words, fellow Brown people, screw what may seem to you like “culture,” and take responsibility for saving our families! Culture also means taking care of our own families when there is danger.

And if you are a leader of a state agency, college, or university, or a company that has the ability to continue operations from home, then it is your responsibility to be part of the solution–Keep your employees home!

Given the situation with the Florida Marlins and outbreaks at various school gyms prepping for Fall athletic programs, school sports need to shut down, too. And that includes university sports programs. Hell, even professional programs that are supposedly “in a bubble” need to stop this folly of a season. If they can get sick in a bubble, they will spread it beyond the bubble. And it sets a bad example.

Still, the diversity of my Facebook friends list runs the gamut and it freaks me out to see people at get-togethers with people who don’t reside with them at the lake or at the beach or eating at restaurants (even if they are at whatever percentage they’ve been told to be by Greg Abbott) or getting haircuts…the list goes on.

Forget about the fear of schools reopening as that’s still in the future. What is going on now dictates what happens later and all we see in the future are more funerals and more despair if behavior and public policy does not change. We have a responsibility to ignore bad leaders like Trump and Abbott and do whatever it takes to stop the spread.

It’s getting to where the people who are sick and dying are people we each personally know and love. I‘d rather miss (or be missed by) my family members for a couple of months of lockdown than forever. 

Why So Surprised at Abbott’s Destruction of Texas?

The Chron, an avid endorser of Greg Abbott, wrote a critical op-ed about Abbott.

The Chron still supported Abbott after the multi-billion dollar shit show that has been the “border surge,” the billions cut from public education, and not allowing an expansion of Medicaid. So, who is “foolish?”

Well, now, Greg Abbott and republicans are failing Texas on mitigating the Coronavirus–big time! But we have enough beds for all the fools who go to bars and parties unmasked as Abbott re-opens the economy, y’hear? Maybe not.

Why are we so surprised? And why is he considered “failing,” now? We’ve known Republicans were out to get the poor, the infirm, immigrants, women, persons of color, the disabled, the LGBT, and many more for a long time.

Why the faux outrage toward him, now? Is it about YOU, now?

 

 

 

Abbott: Follow The Rules I Didn’t Impose!

UPDATE 4PM:  Well that had to be the most useless press conference ever. Abbott and his minions basically assured Texans that there are enough hospital beds for all the COVID19 patients and that the re-opening will continue.

When asked regarding a letter by Dallas County Judge Jenkins who requested more power to enforce mask use and other rules, an offended Greg Abbott blamed Jenkins for wanting to “jail” non-mask wearers and that he should go after bars and restaurants who violate Abbott’s re-opening capacity rules. Abbott has mentioned that TABC is supposed to be doing this, too, so, who’s in charge?

Anyway, Texas government lacks leadership, but has an abundance of power-hungry zealots, and that is nothing new.


So, Greg Abbott is supposed to speak sometime today (6/16/2020) on the increase in COVID19 positives and hospitalizations.

Harris County continues to lead the state with the most confirmed cases with 17,282 cases, 10,029 active, 6,969 recovered and 284 deaths as of Tuesday morning.

and

Harris County has surpassed the hospitalization peak initially seen on April 11 at 610 patients.

As of Sunday, Harris County now has 696 patients severely suffering from coronavirus.

A doctor with Memorial Hermann says they’ve seen a 30% jump in hospitalizations since the end of May.

Telemundo also reported that one testing center at the Mexican Consulate had a 20% infection rate of the 600 tested. And United Memorial Medical Center reported that 90% of new patients are Hispanic.

But, yesterday, after forcing Texas to Phase 3 re-opening last week, Abbott blamed any increase on young people who aren’t taking Coronavirus seriously.

“They are not wearing face masks, they’re not sanitizing their hands, they’re not maintaining social distancing,” he added. “And as a result, they are contracting COVID-19 at a record pace in the state of Texas.”

I fixed his quote, though:

“How dare you young’ns get sick after going to all the businesses that I re-opened and by refusing to wear masks that I didn’t require you to wear!”

Abbott is concerned, but not alarmed, at the increase in positives and hospitalizations. So, he’ll keep the re-openings going and he won’t enforce any rules regarding masks, looking away while pretending that adults will adult.  All this from the comfort of his own taxpayer-paid cocoon. Now, that’s leadership!

Is it true that mask-wearing is lacking? That distance is not being practiced? Of course. We’ve been saying this the whole damn time. But people take their cues from the leaders that satisfy their wants and needs. Whether it’s racist policies or some semblance of faux rugged individualism, you can count on Republicans to shovel it and blame others for the consequences.

Let’s see what he says today.

 

 

 

Re-Living History

I noticed some Tejano music nighclubs are getting ready to re-open. It’s too damn soon! I even read that Grupo Intocable, one of my favorites, is going to have a “drive-in” concert out in the boonies in Poteet, TX on my birthday. They all say CDC guidelines will be followed, but do you trust people to follow? And what can these places do to enforce them? The federal and state government won’t even enforce it. No, thanks! Stay home.

I saw the lifted tweet-turned-meme below and decided to rewrite it in modern day Vato. Enjoy!


Lots of raza in the club waiting for the Hometown Boys to take the stage. I’m out here in my car watching the scene like I look at the marranitos being made at the panaderia, but chale, I ain’t going in. I can drink a six pack at home and not get the ‘rona. ~ 2020 Rewrite in Vato speak.

People Modeling Behavior Of Their Leaders

Some people get it; others do not. And some outright refuse to get it!

Yes, when it comes down to it, protesting not being able to get haircuts, not wearing masks in public, lashing out at government officials who ask groups to practice social distancing, racist comments toward elected officials, hosting parties with large groups of people, all of these can easily be chalked up to being decisions made by irresponsible individuals (and mobs). But to not see elected officials as the source of which this behavior is modeled is short-sighted. Whether we’re in a pandemic or not. But since we are in a pandemic…

Whether it is Trump and Greg Abbott (and other Texas leaders) forcing open the states and businesses and cancelling the requirement of masks, or whether it is Trump playing down the importance of access to COVID-19 testing (access to testing means better contact tracing), or whether it is Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton doing everything they can to stop local elected officials from enforcing rules and stay-at-home orders designed to keep us safe from COVID-19, people see these leaders’ decisions, actions, and behaviors and feel they have permission to do as their leaders do or say. Thankfully, some leaders will fight back.

A hospital in South Texas was denying patients COVID-19 testing, so the local officials have taken over ER operations at the hospital to ensure everyone who needs a test gets one. Apparently, person denied a test was later found to be COVID-19 positive, but only after infecting nine others in the town. So, even hospitals are acting like their elected officials at the top.

But there are more of us who have stayed home these last two months, those who haven’t traveled across the state to visit relatives or have fun, those who wear masks (and gloves) every time they leave the house for needed activities, those that have accepted the danger of being in large groups–even if it means forgoing seeing close family members–and have stayed home or at least played it safe by practicing physical distancing.

We do this to protect everyone else and also our own selves. It’s the responsible thing to do.  And we model our behavior based on the advice of medical experts and the elected officials who take the experts’ advice seriously. And those who risk themselves by volunteering at food drives and PPE giveaways also model their behavior after elected officials who have taken the lead in trying to provide for their communities.

And I’m not naive to think that bad decisions aren’t made at the local level. This move toward outdoor graduations or physically distanced indoor ones could be a disaster in the making, and Dallas is doing the right thing by sticking to virtual graduations. I don’t even like this business of drive-in theaters or the idea of drive-in concerts. The opportunity for stupid decisions is just too huge. But all this is pushed by local leaders who are egged on by state leaders.

So, do not tell me this is not a political thing. Do not tell me that the electoral choices we make nowadays are not a choice between life and death. If the Attorney General, Greg Abbott and Trump want to decrease access to your right to vote during this pandemic, while doing everything to endanger your lives, guess what? It’s political! It’s about power. And it’s as political as buying your love (or silence) for $1200 (of your money) in exchange for corporations and contractors receiving billions of dollars in tax giveaways (of your money).

Now is not the time to be blissful in ones willful ignorance.

COVID19 in a Small South Texas Town

Here is your daily reminder that Greg Abbott and the Republicans are awful, evil people.

I just saw a Facebook live press conference of the leaders of my hometown/county reporting 4 COVID19 cases. The school district has shut down its food distribution program because of a positive test result. As they try to get ahead of it with contact tracing, medical care, quarantine, and providing the people with the latest information, they are basically fighting against Greg Abbott’s lack of concern for poor and struggling communities.

These elected leaders are urging people to stay home, use masks, stop traveling out of the town (which is difficult for those with medical appointments in Laredo or San Antonio), keep out-of-town relatives from visiting (some cases were apparently traced back to a traveler), and continue to follow CDC guidelines. The worry in their voices was palpable.

Good people are reporting get-togethers of 10 or more people out of concern for themselves and others. The townspeople, my friends and relatives, are worried and they are doing what they can, which is commendable considering that Texas leadership is purposely failing Texans.

My community has a lot of health issues and an aging population that is at risk. It doesn’t help when local leaders are trying to protect their communities, yet, Greg Abbott just shirks his responsibilities and shows us he just doesn’t care and offers up conflicting rants and misinformation on Fox News, while being lauded by the Trump administration.

My little town and county have around 7,000 and 12,000 people, respectively. I live in a metro area of 7 million and our local leaders struggle with bad Texas leadership, too. And the fear and worry are strong here, too.

My hometown and county is among the poorest in the nation and heavily uninsured. If one can’t afford to travel 10 miles to the next town’s hospital for COVID19 testing, they must wait for a monthly mobile testing unit that opens for eight hours for one day. The fear is only compounded by the wait.

Although I write about this because I worry, I can also say that I am not surprised by what Trump and Abbott are doing. I’m more pissed off at those who made an electoral choice to keep Abbott by either voting for him or “not voting” for the Latina Democrat because she didn’t “sound” like the leader they wanted (“sounds” like coded language, there) and they guessed Abbott wasn’t that bad. One can argue about not voting period. Hey, I get it. After decades of fighting for candidates, I can say that I’m pretty cynical about most that I simply do not identify with.

But in times like these, how our elected officials respond has everything to do with politics. It’s the difference between one State Representative who uses his contacts to gain access to masks and PPE to distribute to those in need versus a US Senator from Texas who just wants a haircut and makes a show of it. It’s the difference between small town leaders going on Facebook Live to practically beg people to put the people’s safety first versus a Governor who uses TV to whine about leaders who put the people’s safety first. And it’s the difference between a County Judge and a District Judge who make decisions based on facts versus Republicans who make decisions based on profit and hate. Voting matters!

Local Republicans To Create COVID Spit Cloud in Downtown Houston

COVID Spit Clouds Matter!  [Original: LATimes]

Apparently, a local bigoted, hormone-shot giving, unelected chair of the Republican party is organizing the creation of Houston’s very own Right-Wing COVID spit cloud in Downtown as a response to County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s face covering order.

Apparently, these idiots want the right to get sick and then to make others sick during this pandemic by keeping their faces uncovered because they were told by a Latina Democrat to cover their faces, which, they say, is “socialism.” ((Reads comments on local news sites)) Yes, that’s what I gather from reading some of the badly spelled, idiotic, misogynistic, and bigoted comments on local news FB pages.

No need to debate these idiots. It’s a waste of time. Bottom line:  They’re dangerous. But they were dangerous before they wanted to form a COVID spit cloud, so, let’s not fool ourselves that masks are the only issue they have against Judge Hidalgo.

Just be warned of the dangers of walking into this right-wing COVID spit cloud that will appear at our county offices today. At this time, we haven’t been advised how long this spit cloud will linger in downtown after these mostly suburbanite and/or non-Harris County residents disperse. I am hoping the area is fumigated, or at least doused with some Fabuloso, after this threat to our health.

 

State Rep. Gene Wu on COVID19 Situation

Here’s a note my State Rep. Gene Wu posted on Facebook providing an update regarding the COVID19 (Coronavirus) health emergency. It’s got all the right information and links. Thanks, Rep.!

Friends,

The COVID19 situation in Houston is rapidly changing and uncertain. My staff and I wanted to take this opportunity to share resources with you so that you and your family can stay up to date with current and official information from the City of Houston, Harris County, and the US Center for Disease Control.

Both Harris County and the City of Houston have issued emergency health declarations – you may have already heard that the remainder of Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo will be cancelled as a preventative measure.

Schools and businesses are expected to remain open during this emergency management period, but as the situation is quickly evolving, I urge to you use these official resources to make sure that you are receiving the most accurate and up to date information.

US Center for Disease Control:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html

City of Houston Health Department :

https://www.houstontx.gov/health/Epidemiology/2019-nCoV.html

Harris County Health:

http://publichealth.harriscountytx.gov/Resources/2019-Novel-Coronavirus

If you have specific questions please contact:

For Harris County Residents:

Harris County Public Health (HCPH) – Updates regarding Public Health

www.hcphtx.org\COVID-19

www.ReadyHarris.org

(832) 927-7575 – 9AM – 7PM

Harris Health System

www.harrishealth.org

Ask-My-Nurse – Call line for everyday clinical-related questions

(713) 634-1110 – 9AM – 7PM

For City of Houston Residents:

Houston Health Department

www.HoustonHealth.org

www.HoustonEmergency.org

(832) 393-4220 – 9AM – 7PM, M-F, 9AM – 3PM on Sat.

For Fort Bend County Residents:

Fort Bend County Health & Human Services

www.fbchealth.org/ncov

(281) 633-7795 -8AM – 5PM, M-F

Please remember to practice safe hygiene and avoid contact with large groups if you have recently traveled internationally.

My office is here for you if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Gene