Tag Archives: covid19

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. 

It’s Open Season on Public Education

It seems we are up in arms about schools being forced open by Trump, Abbott, etc. As Betsy DeVos puts it, they must be fully opened–no part-time schools, etc. And Trump threatens to cut federal funding to schools that don’t follow his COVID-spreading rules.

This isn’t just about making kids, teachers, staff, and parents sick with COVID-19. It’s about destroying public schools. Just a guess, but I’d figure it would go something like this:

  1. Trump/Abbott will force open schools or lose funding.
  2. Parents/staff/teachers say NO.
  3. Parents find online privately-run (and corporate charter) school companies to homeschool their kids because of Trump’s threat against public schools.
  4. Trump cuts funding to public schools because of lack of attendance.
  5. Trump offers Dept of Education money to corporations who will operate private/charter schools to run low-quality diploma mills.
  6. Trump doles out federal tax money to parents in the form of vouchers to “send kids to private school,” but in reality, it’s for these low-quality privately-run diploma factories that Betsy DeVos’ friends will open because high-quality private schools aren’t going to be expanding their attendance for every Black and Brown kid in America.
  7. Public education as we know it is destroyed in the name of profits for a few. And considering that the vast majority of K-12 public students are Black and Brown, one can see this was the intent all along.

What really sucks is that this will look like some sort of CARES Act type of thing where parents will be offered a nice-sized check, yet, it’s Trump’s corporate friends who will get the billions of dollars in the end.

Unfortunately, too many people will not want to say no to a big check. Cash is always useful when families are in a hurting situation. Those who are of means will just get a boost to help pay for actual private school tuition (and family vacations). But when the vast majority of students are in public schools, we should invest in online infrastructures for online/hybrid education in the public realm, instead of giving away money to Trump’s friends.

So, while people, teachers, staffers, and parents will be worried about the pandemic and risks of illness, we also need to be worried about the bigger picture that will bankrupt public education. It has always been the goal of Republicans to destroy public education, whether it is through vouchers, the myth of school choice, or the creation of corporate-run charter schools under the guise of them being “public.” And, let’s face it, we have a few Democrats who spout the charter school and “education reform” BS quite well, too, and are as much at fault for opening this door for Trump and DeVos.

Fight back! Even in Tuesday’s run-off, vote for those with a record of protecting teachers, students, and public schools.

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.

 

 

 

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!

Federal Assistance Funds Leave Out Undocumented Families

The effects of the pandemic continue to be exacerbated by racist policies created by Trump and the Republicans. One example is the local rental assistance program approved by Houston City Council.

The City of Houston Rental Assistance Program leaves out tax-paying undocumented families. Since the $15 million infusion into this program is based on funds from federal stimulus money, undocumented families are specifically targeted for disqualification. No doubt, much more is needed as thousands of families will be left homeless without the program. And, no doubt, undocumented families are among those left jobless by employers who take advantage of their status in the first place.

Austin, which usually disappoints in attempting to be an example of a liberal city in Texas, approved city funds for their rental assistance program. Somewhere along the line, city and county governments must stop emulating the federal government and help everyone.

We know the Grand Orange Wizard and his klan are behind this, but one would figure there would have been more of a fight about this in Washington, DC. And I think I just caught myself expecting too much, again.

Local advocacy group, FIEL Houston, responded:

We in Houston are petitioning the City of Houston to show true leadership and begin addressing the needs of the immigrant community during this pandemic. We thoroughly believe that it should not just be left up to the non profits or community organizations to take care of our own.

Another example? Colleges and Universities received a lot of federal stimulus money ($6 Billion) to assist students in need (among other expenses); and, undocumented and DACA students are also specifically left out, yet, are suffering through this pandemic like every other college student. These are tuition-paying students! 

California, being the closest thing to a beacon of hope in this day and age, has committed to assisting thousands of undocumented and DACA students in need using state funding. Arizona State University is seeking private funding to provide assistance to their undocumented students; however, no mention of state funds, but they are an anti-immigrant, republican state. Texas is an anti-immigrant republican state, as well, so, there is no expectation of leadership or action, although, some nonprofit groups are putting in some effort. But it’s not enough. Let’s be honest:  Disqualifying undocumented students has nothing to do with “the budget.” It has everything to do with bigotry and putting more money into the pockets of the wealthy.

And another?  Of course, we’ve already heard of undocumented taxpaying folks being left out of the $1200 stimulus check release. Even Americans who fell in love and married undocumented people are not receiving checks! Again, it has nothing to do with the budget if corporations are making out with millions of dollars even though they are not small businesses and when even dead people are receiving checks.

The bottom line:  Trump’s grand plan is working. He’s leaving out communities, while targeting them with wasteful anti-immigrant boondoggles (like black-colored border walls) and handing out money to military contractors and corporations. In the process, he manages to blow Blue Angel-exhaust up everyone’s hind side in a show of faux patriotism. So, people get to experience that whole “all is well with the world” feeling for 2 seconds.

All of us benefit from undocumented workers and their families, especially in this City. I think people are just asking for a little bit more effort in helping this group of people for no other reason than to be human. Now, wouldn’t that be patriotic?

 

 

 

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A COVID-19 de Mayo

UPDATED 6:30PM – Hidalgo Updates Order – Harris County Face Covering Order Effective Today

UPDATE 6:30PM:  Judge Lina Hidalgo updated her order, stating:  “Harris County is the epicenter for the Covid-19 crisis in Texas and face coverings are one of the only weapons we have to stop the spread of the virus and reopen safely. We have a face covering order today and we’ll still have a face covering order tomorrow. In practical terms, the governor’s order doesn’t change much because, like every order we’ve issued so far, we’d made it clear that the priority was education. The fine was there as a signal of how vital mask wearing is, and in many ways, the community got that message. It’s been disappointing to see folks politicize public health, and I hope this means they’ll go back to focusing on health and safety instead of politics. As we have in the past, we will amend this order to conform with the governor’s.”

UPDATE 5PM:  Texas Governor Greg Abbott and his band of pendejos have ordered that some businesses be allowed to re-open at limited capacity, while also allowing face coverings to be optional. The order supercedes any pro-health order signed locally. Given that there is no enforcement of masks, I’m pretty sure there won’t be enforcement of “capacity” at businesses that do re-open.

We can call this one Greg Abbott’s COVID-for-ALL order.


The face covering order signed by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo goes into effect today, 4/27 and lasts until 5/27. The Chron has a simplified graphic for what the order says. Follow it, and some of us civilians who want to flatten the curve won’t report you, photograph you, or take down your license plate number. Seriously!

And as the order states, the masks can be homemade. So, if you have an old t-shirt laying around, fashion it into something. You don’t need the fancy machine-made masks everyone (me, included) is showing off. Or, better yet, STAY HOME, so you don’t have to wear masks so often. That’s my plan.

You can also pick up masks at various locations around the county. (CLICK HERE)

((CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE))


Here’s something to consider:

It’s not the end of the world. And, it’s not the end of your personal rights. If anything, use of a mask in public places will likely prolong the amount of time you can live under the Bill of Rights and the privileges we enjoy as we all flatten the curve and, you know, not get sick.

For the whining complainers, if all you are doing is spreading untruths about constitutional law and pandemic cures, while peppering your comments with racist and misogynistic commentary about the County Judge, then, we really know your intent:  It’s to be a racist asshole. C’mon! It’s not like you’re a child who’s been thrown into a cage for no reason.

Everyone else, have a great day!

 

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