Tag Archives: biden

Yes, Another COVID-19 Week

Did You Order Your Free Test?

The Biden Administration’s 1 billion at-home COVID-19 tests are now available for all to order at COVIDtests.gov. Also, if one is insured, get information on how to get reimbursed by ones health insurance at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website. Since we’re Texas, there are different and varying ways in which workplaces are dealing with in-house infections (or trying to avoid them), so, there is an unfortunate chance that one can get infected if some boss or co-worker is walking around unmasked and coughing up a lung at work. PCR Testing is probably better to get to the bottom of ones status, but if one is showing symptoms, then an at-home rapid test could be helpful. Get Vax’d/boosted, wear a mask in public places, and avoid crowds.

Free N-95s?

The Biden Administration also announced that 400 million N-95 masks will become available to the public starting next week. Higher level masks, like N-95, KN-95, and KF-94 masks increase the time for COVID-19 to spread; meaning, if you’re in a workplace setting with a lot of people or a crowd, these masks can be more effective.

The plan consists of working with pharmacies and community health centers to distribute the nonsurgical masks, which will come from the Strategic National Stockpile. The administration will begin shipments this week and hopes to have the program fully operational by early February, the White House official said.

That’s nice and all, but I wish there was a way for Biden and company to lower the costs of higher-level masks. No sooner had I ordered a batch of 50 KN-95 masks at a good price, Omicron arrived in full-force and so did the profiteering, thus, doubling + the price within days. Instead, Biden is making stuff available from the stockpile while manufacturing capacity has somewhat increased, but costs have not been controlled.

It’s Getting Better?

Notwithstanding several exposures that required more than one test in my own family over the last month, there are reports that COVID-19 measured through our Houston wastewater is seeing a decrease, and hospitalizations might be waning in a few places. That kind of talk worries me because people begin to act like fools as if they can go back to their most recent “normal,” which means unmasked mass events with people beyond their circle of trust. Don’t! It’s going in the right direction, but we’re still at almost 40% positivity.

Bottom line, we are still in the thick of it. With schools and universities reopening after the holiday, the “end” of this surge may be delayed. If schools have access to testing, masks, and vaccinations, then there is hope. But it will not be an easy task.

Many state universities are doing “soft openings,” which will begin with online instruction before going back to full capacity. For all the complaining about having to go back to virtual learning, if people wore masks indoors all the time and got vaccinated/boosted, and if higher ed leaders were to stand up to the likes of Greg Abbott, we may have had a better shot at keeping things open. But even the simple tasks are too much for people at all levels.

As always, mask up, get vax’d and boosted, and stay away from big crowds.

Another Week in COVID-19

A friend pointed me to a pretty good podcast on how Omicron is counterintuitive. Check it out here. It talks about where we are and about where we may be heading. There may be some hope in a world of “WTF is going on?!?”. Still, we must mask-up and not just be vax’d and boosted.

A few weeks into Omicron, it seems Greg Abbott finally panicked enough to beg the Biden administration for help. He still doesn’t want Texans and Texas schoolkids wearing masks, and, though vax’d and boosted himself, doesn’t want to require it for anyone else. But he demands more tests and monoclonal antibodies for his unvax’d and unmasked fans. C’mon, Abbott, Marco Rubio is calling you “irrational“!

Of course, he is also suing Biden because he says he is the state’s national guard leader (Remember Jade Helm!) and doesn’t think they should be vax’d if they don’t want to be. This is the same “leader” who has overseen recent suicides of his soldiers who are tired of being at the Texas border wasting time and taxpayer money. Some leader.

But Biden isn’t in the clear despite his press conference, either. ICE facilities have failed to give their migrant guests vaccine boosters to protect them from Omicron. We know that Omicron spreads easily and in close quarters like an immigrant prison, well, everyone is endangered. One would hope that Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez will be asked by Senators about this, since he’s been re-nominated for ICE Director after the Senate failed to act on his original nomination. Or will it be the Senate’s original questions on human warehousing and hunting and profits? Good luck, Sheriff.

Well, we’re still on fire here in Texas. COVID-19 continues its spread, infections continue to rise, and hospitalizations of the unvaccinated continue. Anecdotally, folks still seem to be acting as if invincible as I see them unmasked (and hacking up a lung) at the store. The good thing is that the holidays are over and there are less mass events among Democrats again. At least, I’m not seeing any selfies at events.

Stay masked. Stay vax’d and boosted. And stay away from large gatherings.

Thoughts on Viernes…12/03/2021

Biden Warehouses 50% More Humans

Joe Biden ran on how hateful Trump was toward immigrants. He has attempted a few measures only to get challenged by Republicans in the courts. One thing he has continued and has even pushed beyond Trump on the matter is the warehousing of humans who lack a piece of paper that lets them stay in the US. Much of the blame goes to a memorandum which gives immigration agents more discretion regarding deportations; meaning, they can deport as much as they want and imprison them while they wait. Biden sure is allowing the deportation machine to strengthen.

Biden made promises he is breaking. Whether it’s the lucrative practice of human warehousing (which he continues to privatize) or a Border Patrol which continues to violate human rights on a daily basis, even bringing local law enforcement and vigilantes into their lawless practices, this machine goes merrily along and Democrats stay quiet about it. Biden is supposedly in charge. He needs to act like he is. Or the problems he is having with Democrats passing Build Back Better, Prescriptions, Voting Rights, and other things will be the least of his problems in 2022.

There’s An Election In Houston!

Yep, those of us that do not reside in Houston ISD are still paying attention to the run-off election in which folks are voting. What HISD produces affects all of us in this area. So, I urge folks who live in HISD to make their voices heard. My picks haven’t changed:

District I – Elizabeth Santos

District V – Sue Dimenn Diegaard

District VI – Holly Flynn Vilaseca

District VII – Anne Sung

Their opponents are either bought by charter school supporters or bigoted, right-wing zealots who want to destroy public education. Most of them don’t care about protecting children and teachers during the pandemic, either. Find your polling location and get it done!

Voter Suppression Is The Law

As County Judge Lina Hidalgo told us in a FB post, Greg Abbott and his Republican buddies have outlawed democracy by giving the OK to voter suppression. Innovations, such as drive-thru voting and late night voting have been banned because it gives the Republicans the shakes and they aren’t fans of working people and people of color having a voice. Also, bigots serving as poll watchers will be allowed to bother you and hover around you while you vote. Does the law outlaw tasers? Just wondering.

Follow The Filings for 2022

County Chair Odus Evbagharu and the staff at Harris County Democratic Party have a rolling photo album on Facebook of the latest folks to file for office locally. Put a name to the face if you aren’t going to events. It looks like they’re in alphabetical order, in case anyone complains. I preferred in order of filing, though. I like to see who’s on top of things or who’s dawdling or who wants to make a grand entrance. That sort of thing. Anyway…

QEPD Congressman Albert Bustamante

I was saddened to read the news of the former Congressman’s passing. He served CD23 down in South Texas when I was in high school and a bit beyond. Talk about a cinderalla story: He grew up dirt poor in Asherton, TX (about 20 miles from my hometown), put himself through college, was a teacher, was elected a Bexar County Commissioner then became the first Chicano County Judge of Bexar County. Then, he took out a big South Texas name like Chick Kazen with the help of communities like mine who felt more connected to the small town-raised Bustamante. Imagine a kid who grew up loving Chicano politics seeing this guy speak at his high school graduation. I was in awe.

Later, the FBI set its sights on him and took him down for bribery regarding government contracts. I don’t recall if the “briber” got any time, though. I’ve seen a lot more “legal” and uglier ways of giving away contracts for money, like immigrant warehousing contracts to campaign donors, or holding hostage the Build Back Better bill to appease donors, and stuff like that. Anyway, he served us and Bexar County well. The SA Report has an in-depth history into Bustamante, including words from former SA Mayor Henry Cisneros.

Back At Yellow Despite Omicron Threat

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has placed us back at threat level YELLOW as the COVID-19 positivity rate is less than 5% and hospitalizations are down-trending. The definition of YELLOW is:

Level 3 signifies a moderate and controlled  level of COVID-19 in Harris County, meaning a further demonstrated reduction transmission and the local healthcare system is well within capacity. Unvaccinated residents should remain vigilant, but can resume contact with others and resume leaving home. Unvaccinated individuals should continue to mask and physical distance. Fully vaccinated individuals may resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations and including local business and workplace guidance. 

ReadyHarris.com (Emphasis mine)

Yet, today, President Biden in trying to calm fears about the Omicron variant was also telling us to continue masking, practice social distancing, and keep clean just in case COVID-19 is in our mist, er, midst. That’s exactly my plan: To continue being proactive as if we are still in a pandemic and staying within my circle of trust, which is basically four people whose activities and precautions I know.

As Kuff reminds us, the local traffic is telling us that people are going back to work at their workplaces rather than being productive at home. The holiday season also means that stores will also be full of people. Workplaces and shopping establishments do not seem to be pushing masking and distancing , but I’m guessing it’s 50-50 when left up to the individual. The smart individuals are the ones that continue masking at the office (and everywhere else) despite workplace and supervisor/coworker attitudes toward these policies.

So, the suggestions behind “Code Yellow” aren’t something I’m trusting because I don’t want to get sick–even if I am boosted by Moderna. They keep telling us to follow the science, but people with comorbidities need to follow the realities that COVID-19 can hit them harder than what the skinny, healthier, well-insured folks on TV tell us. Hell, breakthroughs are still not being adequately reported and Texas and Greg Abbott suck at reporting anything, anyway.

The scientists are studying Omicron and the vaccine’s effectiveness against it. I say we stay masked up and distanced. The unmasked and unvax’d pendejos will surely still be out there helping the spread.

Also, get vaccinated. If vaccinated, get boosted.

There Is A Human Rights Crisis On The Border

While bigoted republicans call it an “invasion,” and others call it a humanitarian crisis, the next phase of a media-exploited “crisis” on the border went to full-on human rights crisis as a Border Patrol with lax regulations and bigoted members rode horses and whipped Haitian refugees as they rounded them up for President Biden’s Title 42 immediate deportations.

Honestly, though, it’s always been a human rights crisis. The Border Patrol and border-area law enforcement has a deeply rooted history of violently mistreating humans escaping violence and poverty–all for political purposes, no matter who is in power. And no matter who is power, the government does a great job of blaming “the other” for the crises it has caused in the countries people are fleeing. Whether it is Mexico, Central America, or Haiti, US foreign policy of befriending and funding right-wing zealots and their elections as a means of keeping indigenous and poor people in control is why these crises exist.

The problem is that the US thrives on people’s ignorance regarding foreign policy–no matter which party is in charge. The narrative of “the other” being the problem works as long as they use fear-based terminology. And people eat it up because they are ignorant and it’s not like candidates and office holders are doing much to combat the narrative.

As depressing as the stories are of migrants and refugees, it’s the stories of fighting back that have given me hope. Whether it is those who have crossed back into Mexico to find food and water for themselves, or the Haitians who revolted on a Biden deportation bus. Sure, they are met with violence by Biden’s Border Patrol, but they are willing to fight. They are that desperate for a better life and the US response of human warehousing, whipping, and horse-led round-ups is a global embarrassment, especially when our President attempts to lecture other countries, or he attempts to show how much better he is than Trump on global affairs.

And then there is that failure of a governor, Greg Abbott, who blames everything on Joe Biden. I don’t know why. Biden is deporting Haitians and other migrants at a rapid pace because of Trump’s Title 42. Biden’s Border Patrol is whipping people. All the republican anti-immigrant porn is available to Greg Abbott, but he wants to be the one calling the shots. The photo ops make it obvious.

And some will defend Biden by reminding us that Biden mouthpiece Jen Psaki called the human rights violations “obviously horrific” and the Biden administration is “investigating” and “condemning.” But Biden is the President. He can end this. And he can get rid of people in the Border Patrol. And he can change agency policy with a signature. Who’s in charge? Biden or the bigoted Border Patrol (and their union)?

There is an old photo of Texas Rangers having murdered Mexican men and dragged them by horse from around 1915. Now, we have the Border Patrol trying to repeat history. Yes, only 100 or so years ago and things don’t seem to change.

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.

Another Week in Anti-Immigrant News

Racial Profiling Stopped Temporarily

Greg Abbott had his bigoted order to allow racial profiling to stop the federal transport of migrants to “stop COVID” temporarily stopped while the judge considers its constitutionality. Abbott, of course, will continue to fight for bigotry by wasting money on court costs and lawyers.

While many of us will argue against racial profiling by Abbott and his bigoted nature of blaming migrants for COVID-19 while allowing his supporters to go unvaccinated and maskless , the Biden administration just wants to make its job of (ware)housing migrants easier.

U.S. attorneys argue that Abbott’s order would interfere with the federal government’s ability to transport migrants between facilities. Federal officials spend over $200 million annually to employ contractors to transfer migrants and to avoid overcrowding facilities, according to court documents. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has more than 20 contracts with Texas private service providers and county governments for transportation services that cover more than 8,000 miles per day.

I wish folks would work as zealously for, I don’t know, immigration reform, deporation reform, and maybe a change in Latin America policy. This hurry up and wait attitude that Democrats seem to thrive on and the bigotry which Republicans win on, has made for a bad situation all around, while enriching contractors and private prisons, and a status quo for both sides to exploit.

Graham and Cuellar

COVID-19 spreader Lindsey Graham and Laredo congressman Cuellar are in cahoots at trying to get a “border czar” appointed. For what? I don’t know. They should be passing immigration reform, right? But suggesting Obama’s creator of the cages in which kids were caged, Jeh Johnson, is not a good idea.

Cuellar says he is doing in defense of la migra, when he should be calling for reforms on the bigoted agency.

I don’t know about y’all, but this reminds me of when Cuellar tried to work with another white supremacist, Colorado’s Tom Tancrazy on their version of bigotry back in the days of HR4437 and the creation of REAL ID.

ACLU v Biden

ACLU is challenging the Biden Administration‘s continued use of Title 42, which allows the Border Patrol to immediately deport migrants without due process. The rule was used by Trump in the name of COVID-19, and Biden is doing it, too.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an updated order that maintains there is a public health justification, given the ongoing pandemic, for the Biden administration to continue kicking out migrants without allowing them to seek asylum. The order can remain in effect indefinitely.

Can you see the hypocrisy? We complain about Abbott blaming migrants, but Biden is doing it, too. Biden just uses a prettier way of explaining it. But the Trumpening of Biden is worrisome.

In recent months, Mexico has been increasingly more resistant to accepting families expelled from the U.S. under Title 42, resulting in a majority of families entering the U.S. to be permitted to remain in the country. Biden, for his part, has previously said migrant families should “all be going back.”

Last week, the Biden administration began to speed up deportations for some families who cross the U.S.-Mexico border and cannot be expelled under Title 42, a move that further frustrated immigrant advocates and attorneys. The practice, known as expedited removal, has been used by Democratic and Republican administrations to allow for U.S. border officials to expel migrants without a hearing before an immigration judge.

And that is your bipartisan, anti-immigrant news for today.

DOJ Sues Abbott Over Migrant Transport

I’m content with the fast action of the DOJ in suing Greg Abbott over his executive order barring transport of migrants. The DOJ clarified the “who” regarding transport.

The lawsuit says that if migrants are not allowed to be transported by volunteers or contractors they would have to be confined to immigration facilities where there would not be enough space for every migrant.

Greg Abbott continues to blame brown people for COVID-19, but it’s not like President Biden isn’t doing the same thing by continuing a policy used by Trump for the same reason.

Currently, the Biden administration is turning back many migrants under Title 42, which allows agents to make migrants return to Mexico because of the risk of spreading COVID-19. This practice has been in place since the Trump administration.

The Rio Grande Guardian has a good explanation on what is going on in Greg Abbott’s ground zero for these gross civil rights violations.

For even more clarity for those who don’t know how things happen:

Immigration rights advocates say that Abbott’s most recent order would not only disrupt shelters who have been hosting migrants released by Border Patrol agents, but would also invite troopers to racially profile people. They also said that this would impact volunteers who drive migrants to bus stops or airports.

Many of the migrants have attempted to enter the country through the Rio Grande Valley. Many of them have requested asylum and immigration officials have released some migrants pending the outcomes of their asylum cases.

Some migrants stay at shelters until friends or relatives send them money for a bus ride or plane ticket to their U.S. destination.

I cannot help but wonder why the asylum process is so difficult on the Texas border, but seems to be fast-tracked in Florida.

We are in this not because of those leaving their home countries and coming in through the Texas border, but because the US continues to either impose blockades, mess with their elections, impose economic sanctions because they don’t like whom the people elected, turns their heads when the right-wing dictators they support violate the human rights of people, or are still practicing empire-building for the benefit of US corporations who steal those countries natural resources. But it’s a great political football for either side of the aisle, while meetings and press conferences continue to be held to determine whether or not to add some sort of reform to the budget reconciliation bill.

And that’s for tons of other blog posts.

Kuff has more.

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.

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.