Tag Archives: covid-19

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.

We Suck Even More! Back at Red

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has placed us back at threat level RED–the highest level. All while blaming record hospitalizations and the unvaccinated.

DosCentavos.net will add that the vaccinated and unmasked attending all sorts of holiday parties and continued mass events in this new year helped drive the percentage of COVID-19 positive tests to almost 40% of those testing.

From the County Public Health Office:

Today, Office of County Judge Lina Hidalgo increased the COVID-19 Threat Level Indicator from level 2 (Orange) to level 1 (Red). Unvaccinated individuals should continue to mask, physical distance, and avoid all gatherings. Vaccinated individuals follow the latest local public health guidance on wearing a mask while indoors in public places, in crowded outdoor settings, and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated. We urge all unvaccinated people to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Visit vacstrac.hctx.net or call 832-927-8787 for scheduling and appointments are not required, although recommended.

I think it’s better to just have one blanket suggestion to not go to crowded settings and to always wear masks. One may hang out with someone who is vaccinated, but we never know where that vaccinated person may have been. I think that’s one reason why so many vax’d people got Omicron after attending holiday parties and mass events. And I’m just tired of rewarding bad behavior.

Hopefully, more workplaces will be pushing vaccinations and masking in the office if forcing employees to sacrifice themselves at work. Otherwise, let’s hope for at least some lower density work environments calling for split shifts and a couple of days of working at home. And hope that managers aren’t up the hindside of Greg Abbott.

And do we really think the unvaccinated are going to avoid crowds, wear masks, and get vaccinated? We don’t hear about it until their family members start their GoFundMes with, “Covid ain’t no joke.”

Because of comorbidities and other issues, I’ve remained at RED since Day 1. Don’t expect me to be out and about. (There have been a couple of nervous attempts at patio dining pre-Omicron.) As far as deciding on whom to vote for in the Democratic Primary, my only source of information will be unmasked (-vs- masked) selfies and blockwalking pics on Facebook and/or Instagram.

My policy of not giving to GoFundMe funeral fundraisers for the unmasked and unvax’d will remain in place. Those who die from being vax’d, yet unmasked and endangering themselves, will go through a committee vote.

In other words, stay masked, get boosted, and stay away from gatherings for now. And if you’re an elected official or candidate, be a damn example. I’d like for whom I am voting to not get COVID and die while in office.

Kuff adds a similar sentiment while asking if anyone is listening anymore.

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.

Greg Abbott’s Inhumanity Continues

Let’s not be shocked that Greg Abbott’s inaction on COVID-19 continues. Instead of a strong push on vaccinations, he’s just sitting back and doing nothing. Instead of a push to encourage mask-wearing, he’s safe in the mansion enjoying the holidays. He fears his right-wing base so much that he won’t even tell us if he got the booster or not. And as Trump found out, ignorance is bliss with that crowd. All this as Omicron is upon us and the last check on COVID-19 positivity tracking toward 15%. With all the testing going on of travelers and people wanting to visit their families, it’s sure to jump a bit more.

Meanwhile, Abbott’s use of the Texas-Mexico border for political purposes continues. He’s trumping up a wall–less than 1,000 feet so far. He’s thrown tax dollars at it–a billion dollars which will build a few miles for photo op purposes. No details and no transparency, but that’s how Republicans work as they dole out money to corporations for this debacle. All while blaming migrants escaping violence and poverty caused by bad US policy. If Texans buy this as a solution, well, the stupid is strong in those believers.

Then, there’s the “catch and jail” program in which Abbott charges migrants with trespassing when captured on private border land, places them in a state prison (which are badly run), and give them to border counties (Kinney) to prosecute. This whole program is a farce and badly run, just like the state of Texas, as the judge in charge has appointed his own set of judges to ensure Abbott keeps his prison filled with pre-trial detainees.

Then, there’s Abbott rescinding a posthumous pardon of George Floyd because of a clerical error? Thousands of employees and lots of lawyers and they can’t get it right? C’mon!

So, as Kuff reminds us today, Abbott is the same as he ever was. Evil.

Visit BetoForTexas.com for the alternative.

Y’all Suck! We Are Back At Orange!

Looks like we are back at Code Orange in the COVID-19 threat level in Harris County.

“Due to the explosive growth of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus across Harris County, public health officials are strongly urging all eligible Harris County residents, especially individuals 65 and older, to get their booster shots as soon as possible,” county officials said in a statement released Monday. “Residents who are not vaccinated are cautioned to do so immediately. Regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask and get tested before attending holiday gatherings.

I don’t like to second guess leaders that I support, but the masking/testing suggestion for all should have continued, instead of going “Yellow.” Instead, we’ve seen so many maskless mass events attended by the unmasked, yet vaccinated, as holiday parties and graduations have been celebrated and, unsurprisingly, the numbers took a turn for the worse in a very bad and quick way. Some of our Democratic stars are getting breakthrough infections. My worry is also with workplaces who have “fully opened” and have gone unmasked as they follow Greg Abbott.

Let’s not forget that when we went to “Yellow” the other day, word of Omicron surfaced. And what we know about Omicron now is that we will have more breakthrough infections. And the worry is that many of those breakthrough infections will hit hospital and medical staff.

We should have remained careful. Hell, I did and continue double-masking and avoiding maskless crowds, but that’s because I have my own comorbidities and I have family members who are immunosuppressed that I’d much rather hang-out with than all other humans. I’m not going to risk them.

I know leaders want to provide citizens some sort of incentive or reward or relief from masks for bringing numbers down, but, with so many still unvaccinated and unmasked scoffing at our leaders who are trying to do something good, well, idiocy should not be rewarded. Certainly, the maskholes didn’t feel the need to vax and mask while those of us who have done our part were the ones who were actually being rewarded.

President Biden will speak on Omicron on Tuesday. While I hear chatter from some considered experts that “COVID-19 is here to stay” and that “we will all get it, eventually,” I hope leaders at the very top don’t listen to them and actually lead. Some of us just don’t want to get sick, no matter how “mild” the symptoms.

For more, here’s Kuff.

The Omicron Wave is Upon Us

We’ve known about the Omicron variant for a few weeks now and the health authorities have been prompt at gathering information regarding how well the COVID-19 vaccines will work against it. Unfortunately, its existence hasn’t done much to make people cautious and cognizant of its ability to spread faster than other variants, so, the numbers of people testing positive and being hospitalized for COVID are increasing locally, according to a report in Houston Public Media.

Methodist confirmed a total of 307 positive COVID-19 tests on Monday and Tuesday of this week, according to the hospital. That’s up from 76 positive tests reported last Monday and Tuesday. Additionally, the hospital confirmed on Wednesday that 54 cases of the omicron variant have been identified by Methodist’s sequencing lab since early December.

Unfortunately, some people are still acting like the pandemic is over because they are fully vax’d or boosted. That’s their prerogative, I guess. They’re OK with getting infected and suffering through mild symptoms, so they attend all the big christmas gatherings with people not in their immediate circle. Just don’t expect to ever be around me. Your mild infection can still affect those with other health concerns.

As I drove around my area this week, I’ve noticed lines at testing kiosks and facilities. So, some folks are either sick or getting worried about Omicron enough to test themselves.

But there is a concern that even if omicron doesn’t affect most people, even a small percentage of patients could quickly overwhelm hospitals in the Houston area, Boom said.

“If this spreads so rapidly that there are massive numbers of infected people, even if on average they’re very mild, if that hits the vulnerable in our population and they end up hospitalized, that can still be an incredibly challenging time,” Boom said.

So, the push for vaccination and boosters continues, but Texas is still ass-backward Texas with folks complaining about a tiny needle and a shot that’s been tested on hundreds of millions of Americans. My new motto for the holidays: My money is not going to your DeathFundMe accounts for funerals because of your stupidity.

Speaking of, I’ve seen too many unmasked events going on from folks on my side of the aisle. Like I said, it’s their prerogative. But how easy is it to spread disease? Well, anecdotally, one local workplace I was told about had some unmasked fool walking around, supposedly vaccinated. He got sick because he was probably unmasked at a gathering, tested negative and then was coughing up a lung at work. The person finally tested positive and protocols went into effect. Thankfully, because most co-workers were vax’d and masked at work despite Abbott’s no-mask-mandate idiocy, COVID-19 tests are coming back negative for the co-workers, thus far, but what an inconvenience! But all it takes is one person, even among folks you see everyday at work and who think they’re invincible to spread it to unmasked others. So, mask up!

I must give out a tip of my Stetson to State Rep. Penny Morales Shaw (148) for turning an in-person fundraiser to a Zoom-only event because of health concerns for the people she serves. The politicians I respect the most are the ones who set examples for the community. So, give her a few bucks for her efforts.

2:50PM Update: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner just announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19. He has mild symptoms and will rest. He’s been to a lot of unmasked events, so, how does the contact tracing work in this situation?

So, yeah, y’all need to stop with the unmasked events.

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.

Holiday Reminder: COVID-19 Is Not Done With Us

With the local COVID-19 color code at Orange and test positivity holding steady in the single digits, folks seem to be getting too damn comfy. Maskless mass events continue as if this thing is done with us. As we near the holidays, half the country is seeing an uptick in positivity and in hospitalizations. Bottom line: The pandemic is not over.

Here in Texas, 28 hospitals were out of ICU beds and staffing is still affected by the pandemic–no matter what the numbers tells us. People, especially the unvaccinated, are getting sick. We’re still singing the same tune:

The vast majority of COVID-19 patients in hospitals and ICUs are unvaccinated. Doctors say mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing are the best ways to slow down the hospital numbers in the short term, and that monoclonal antibody therapies for people with COVID-19 symptoms can keep them out of the hospital in many cases. They also say the only way to permanently slow down the spike in hospitalizations is to vaccinate a majority of the state.

Texas Tribune

Although the numbers and the worry are low for breakthrough cases, those who live with autoimmune disorders and other comorbidities still live in danger if they are not careful–masked, hands washed, etc.–and insist on hanging out with the unvaccinated. And breakthrough cases are a lot more common than folks think and the Feds and Greg Abbott are sucking at keeping an accurate count. This is why it’s important to get a booster or a third vaccine (if immunocompromised with doctor’s advice) before Thanksgiving gatherings.

The Thanksgiving holidays will be a test for those gathering. The responsible thing is to ensure your guests are vaccinated to protect the rest of your household. Also, distance and hand-washing help!

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.