Tag Archives: covid-19

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.

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.

Republicans Blame Brown People for COVID-19

Thus far, the governors of two failing states, Texas and Iowa, have blamed brown folks for the rise in the COVID-19 rate. They don’t blame the fact that half of their states have yet to be vaccinated or that they are run by anti-mask republicans, though.

In Texas, Greg Abbott has given orders to his state police to commit racial profiling to stop any car with suspected migrants from leaving South Texas in the name of COVID-19. Meanwhile, we don’t know the vaccination rate of his state police, county police who are happily assisting him, or his national guard members. We also know that more than half the state is unvaccinated because of him.

In Iowa, its governor blames brown folk, but the Iowa State Fair goes merrily on with no mask mandate while the medical experts worry about the kind of COVID-19 outbreak that will occur.

You can use a term like “culture war” all you want, but this is downright racist public policy. And those running for office need to call it what it is because the republicans sure as hell aren’t playing nice. Why should we?

The Attorney General of the United States spoke up and threatened to sue Abbott for his policy which violates civil rights of noncitizens in federal custody. Unfortunately, the Biden’s administration position has more to do with defending its right to transport captured migrants, rather than changing immigration and detention policy altogether.

Anyway, we are seeing what the republican platform will be in 2022.

Get Your Shots! Mask Up!

Since the media and government are on top of trying to get shots into the unvaccinated, there’s no sense in me joining that part of the chorus.

I’ve seen the stats regarding the unvax’d: A majority are anti-vaxxers and come up with any and all excuses to not get a shot. And the rest either don’t have access, or just plain procrastinate. Thankfully, vaccination rates seem to be creeping up, again; however, infections are exploding.

My big worry remains on the vaccinated, and so many numbers are thrown at us to make us feel safe from hospitalization and death. But we need some sense of reality about what is to come regarding infections, rather than being told that because 150 million Americans are vaccinated, only .0000013 (or whatever) are infected. That is disingenuous at best and an avoidance of reality at worse.

I’ve been looking toward Los Angeles when it comes to breakthrough cases. The LA County Public Health Director reported a few days ago regarding breakthrough cases based on current COVID-19 testing. There has been steady growth in infections of the vaccinated.

In March, vaccinated people accounted for only 2% of all infections. In April that rose to 5%. In May, it was 11%. It stood at 20% in June — and is now likely higher. The rise coincides with the rise of the more transmissible Delta variant in the county, which now accounts for 84% of all variants recently identified.

The reason?

“The more people who are vaccinated, the more people who will end up testing positive.”

Huh?

“Those numbers will go up — including among vaccinated people,” she said, “until we get community transmission under control. Masking will help.”

That’s why LA’s indoor masking order was put in place.

In other words, COVID-19 and its variants are out there because people refuse to get vaccinated and because states have sped up their re-openings without having reached a vaccination rate that would control transmission, or having put policies like masking that may control transmission in place.

And a reminder that the vaccinated can still get infected with mostly mild symptoms. But some of us don’t want the infection.

Much like LA and California, Texas is in the same predicament with its even lower vax rate and even faster reopening. There doesn’t seem to be much of a plan to keep students masked when they return to school, and the vaccination rates are lower for the 12 to 18 population. Already, we are seeing a younger population in hospitals with many being unvaccinated. But, again, what about the vax’d?

And let’s go deeper. What about the vaccinated with comorbidities and the immunosuppressed who may suffer more if infected? All this to worry about along with long haulers and those suffering post-COVID-19 after effects.

Obviously the discussion over booster shots is beginning, but at this point, masking up is equally important. Given the numbers, masking needs to be as close to mandated as possible in Texas schools and universities, and even at places of business where crowds form. Whatever Greg Abbott is doing to suppress lives in Texas, it is the leaders of these institutions who must act accordingly and show some…leadership. At the very least, be an example and wear a mask!

I usually would go along with the “don’t worry” crowd, but when the message comes from relatively medically healthy, thin, and insured self-proclaimed thought leaders, my alarms go off and I start feeling that entire groups of people are going ignored.

In other words, we need to be proactive for everyone’s sake.

Find a vaccine. Mask up! Keep clean! Stay away from crowds! You know the drill.

UPDATE: CDC is now recommending vaccinated people wear masks indoors.

The agency is recommending that vaccinated people who live in areas with substantial and high transmission wear masks in indoor public spacesto help prevent viral spread, according to three people familiar with the guidance. It is also advising that vaccinated people with vulnerable individuals in their households, including young children and those who are immunocompromised, wear masks indoors in public spaces.

The agency is also urging universal masking for all teachers, staff and students in schools, regardless of vaccination status.

Now, it’s up to leaders to choose whether to follow-thru, or be whiny SOBs.

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.