Tag Archives: houston

COVID-19 Creep-Up Continues

The latest 14-day COVID-19 positivity report from Houston Health now has us at 14.5% and the viral load in the wastewater is at 242%. I’m a little confused as to whether they call this “low,” or if they are saying vaccines will keep the number low. Well, I’m still back in 2020 when 5% positivity was causing freak-outs and freaking out that people are still allowing the rate to increase by staying unvax’d and/or unmasked.

I did a couple of reportable by app at-home tests last week. I got hit hard by something last week that laid me out, at least for parts of a few days. Fatigue, low-grade fever, chills, sinusitis, but no COVID-19 positivity. Thankfully, I’m doing better and I’m glad that it wasn’t COVID-19. Still, quite a few friends and acquaintances report they’ve been hit by COVID-19. I try not to be mean and ask, “Are you still wearing masks in crowds? Because I see your partying selfies without masks.” So, I just wish them well and hope they get through it quickly.

I still mask up at stores, at restaurants while I wait for my order, or in any kind of crowd. Too many unmasked folks out there! I’ve opened my life to a few more friends in my vicinity, and while it warms the heart, I still worry. Thankfully, those I associate with are not anti-maskers, don’t get offended by masks if I wear one, and are very much vaccinated. And that’s how I keep fighting against COVID-19.

The summer is just starting and things may worsen for some. Get vax’d and boosted, and do what you can to promote mask-wearing and staying away from crowds.

Tollways to Trailways Approved by County

La Leona

ABC-13 and others reported on this new plan from the Harris County Toll Road Authority to spend $53 million on connecting 236 miles of hike and bike trails along the Sam Houston Tollway.

According to Commissioner and avid cyclist Rodney Ellis, expending money from toll road surplus monies for this work is in compliance with the statute that created the Toll Road Authority as it improves accessibility, safety and transportation. Connecting the trails would provide, in the long run, an opportunity for an 80 mile loop around the region.

It is definitely something that is needed as Houston competes with the Central Texas region which is creating a San Antonio to Austin trail which runs for 100 miles and would connect the Great Springs of the region, including Barton, San Marcos, Comal, and San Antonio springs. Like HCTRA’s, this is a long-term project. No doubt, such projects create opportunities for economic development and tourism, not to mention healthier communities.

As far as paying for it, the 2 right-wing, naysaying commissioners who voted against it feel that the toll road authority wasn’t created for this purpose. But alternate transportation on 2 or 3 wheels is still transportation and we need to get beyond Cagle and Ramsey’s concrete and air pollution thinking.

Personally, I like the idea as we need more connected trails out here on the West side of town and the trails/lanes need to reach inward toward the Galleria area (my neighborbood). That means we need a new County Commissioner who actually listens to the people to work with a supportive city government. Precinct 4 is not well-represented at the moment, as Cagle’s no vote on so many Dem-supported programs tells us. La Leona, my Trident Trikes recumbent trike, is ready for some new trails and connectors.

We are learning just how important elections are, and a Democratic majority on the Harris County Commissioner’s Court must remain for these innovative programs to continue.

COVID-19 Creep-Up Continues

Yesterday, the City of Houston reported that the 14-day average in COVID testing positivity has reached 4.4% and the wastewater load is at 79%. They call it “low,” but there is no doubt that the creep-up continues.

It’s not surprising that this is happening. Masks seem to have come off for most at stores and especially at large events. With the mask mandates on public transportation coming off, I see more and more unmasked folks at Park and Ride buses headed for the ‘burbs.

Why should we be worried? Well, at one point in time, the World Heath Organization called 5% positivity too high; high enough to tell governments to consider stronger restrictions. Some would say that things are different since we have vaccines which lessen symptoms for some people and we have a high number of people who have already been infected, but with variants still creating themselves, anything can happen. And, oh yeah, some of us don’t want to get COVID-19–even with “mild” symptoms.

Speaking of anything can happen, Texas Democratic candidate for Governor Beto O’Rourke self-reported that he has tested positive. Talk about unsurprising. He’s the type of candidate that literally throws himself into a crowd. That it didn’t happen sooner is the more surprising part of this story. While O’Rourke states he “tests frequently,” testing doesn’t help you not get it, nor does it stop you from spreading it while you wait to “surprisingly” test positive. Masking up and requiring masks at your events does–at least it lessens the risk.

As someone who has always sought examples on how not to get COVID-19 from our leaders, I’m disappointed that many continue to push the envelope, mixing in with larger crowds, exercising close contact, etc. If a skinny, boosted, healthy, and well-insured dude can get it (Beto), imagine someone with comorbidities and/or immunocompromised systems. And I do see these folks in all the FB event pics.

There are ways to participate in “the re-opening” that do not expose you to COVID-19. But people seem to refuse even that. Meanwhile, these kind of events lead to workplace exposures and that just increases the probability of spread, not to mention negatively affecting the economy and productivity. If that sounds familiar, it’s what we went through early on. Two years later, one would figure we would know how to act.

Anyway, that’s today’s COVID-19 report of disappointment.

THIS JUST IN: The VP has it, too.

Update 4/27/22: Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia reports she tested positive.

10000 Ballots?

I guess the first question is: How does an elections office miss 10,000 ballots?

KHOU reports

“The oversight occurred between the hours of 1 and 4 a.m. as the political parties that make up the Central Count Committee were reviewing ballots,” Longoria’s office said in a press release.

They said the votes were scanned into the tabulation machines but not transferred, which meant they were not being counted in the unofficial count on Election Night. The votes are set to be added to the final count when the Central Count Committee next meets on Tuesday, according to the elections administrator’s office.

The good news is that the elections folks at the Secretary of State’s office caught the error when the reconciliation forms did not match between votes tabulated and the number of actual votes. So, it’s not like the votes were “lost” or “missing.” They just didn’t get tabulated once entered into the system. But the question remains: How was this not checked at Harris County before anyone clicked [SEND} to the Secretary of State’s office?

While the buck stops with whomever is in charge of the elections office, there needs to be a full accounting as to procedures and employee actions occurring throughout the vote count. Staff involved in this should also be held accountable in one way or another. No doubt, republican whining didn’t help, but the focus should always stay with the vote count.

From a political sense, I’m pretty sure there is no turning back from this. The Republicans whined enough that something simple, yet so major, will stick when calling for resignations, now. In other words, the elected officials who created the office and hired the election administrator will need to decide which direction to go. And in an election year. With two elections happening soon and a major one in November. It’s not really a good time for upheaval in the elections office.

Back At Orange; CDC Unmasking

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has placed us back at COVID-19 Level Orange.

BREAKING: I’ve just lowered our COVID19 Threat Level Indicator from Level 1: Red to Level 2: Orange, as cases/ICU populations are decreasing. We’re moving in the right direction but we can always see another wave. Please get vaxxed and boosted, and help us keep the virus at bay.

Just in time for the OmicRodeo! Not that any warnings or suggestions would have done anything to keep people masked or distanced at crowded places like NRG. We’ve been on our own the whole damn time to do the right thing and have failed miserably, especially Texas-wide.

Today, the CDC begins to unmask America.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday will announce a change to the metrics it uses to determine whether to recommend face coverings, shifting from looking at COVID-19 case counts to a more holistic view of risk from the coronavirus to a community. Under current guidelines, masks are recommended for people residing in communities of substantial or high transmission — roughly 95% of U.S. counties, according to the latest data.

The new metrics will still consider caseloads, but also take into account hospitalizations and local hospital capacity, which have been markedly improved during the emergence of the omicron variant. That strain is highly transmissible, but indications are that it is less severe than earlier strains, particularly for people who are fully vaccinated and boosted. Under the new guidelines, the vast majority of Americans will no longer live in areas where indoor masking in public is recommended, based on current data.

No doubt, there will be more confusion. That’s OK, even the bluest of states and cities want to pretend the pandemic is over and are getting rid of masks. Or, at least confusing people as to whether masks are required, recommended, or go fuck yourself.

Anyway, we’re still at CODE RED at DC HQ. We wear N-95, KN-95 and KF-94 masks in all places with breathing people, sometimes with a cloth mask over it just because we have some pretty cool cloth masks that we still want to show off. And we breathe just fine and don’t whine about it. We work in places with weak masking and vaccination regs thanks to the bad leadership of Greg Abbott and others, thus, keeping us on a testing regimen whenever some unmasked fool breathes on us. All these threats with no support for our family members who are immunocompromised–whether from workplaces or our government, or even friends/family who insist on going to mass events unmasked.

Yes, COVID-19 is here to stay, they just haven’t thrown the word “endemic” at us locally like they have in California; at least, not officially.

Arctic Front Expected This Week

Looks like Texas is expecting a bit of a cold snap this week as an Arctic front makes its way down here starting on Wednesday evening. It’s time to be prepared, especially with the 4Ps: Pets, Plants, Pipes, and People.

As local meteorologist, Jeff Lindner, tells us:

Arctic cold front will arrive Wednesday evening. Very cold conditions expected Thursday-Saturday with lows in the mid 20’s possible for many areas. Wind chills likely 10’s on Thursday.

At this time any winter precipitation is expected to remain N and W of SETX although it could be close Thursday AM around the College Station area. While this will NOT be a repeat of last February, take time Tuesday and Wednesday to prepare the 4 P’s for the cold. Stay tuned for forecasts changes.

One word of advice is not to panic buy at the grocery stores. And, considering shelves have been somewhat empty due to pandemic supply chain issues and lack of production, it’s smart to just buy what you need. Armageddon is not expected, weather-wise, so, let’s not cause one at the grocery stores.

I will definitely stay tuned to all sorts of weather forecasts this week.

For those who live outside of Texas, we’ll forgive the laughter. It’s just that we suck at winter here in Texas and our state government sucks even more.

The 2021 Run-Off Results

Congrats to Elizabeth Santos (D-I) and Sue Deigaard (D-V) on their re-elections to the HISD board. While Santos squeaked by against a well-funded and hard-working opposition Dem, it was Deigaard who was able to defeat a right-wing nut quite handily.

Unfortunately, my friends Holly Flynn Vilaseca (VI) and Anne Sung (V) were defeated by right-wing nuts who promise to threaten the lives and health of teachers, students, parents, etc., with their anti-mask positions. They are also all about a whites-only history education. Seems to me voters fell for some stupid positions by some hateful (and vindictive) people. Of course, perhaps there was some anti-incumbent sentiment because of actions made by some of them. But people are falling for just about anything that divides and conquers entire communities, possibly even their own communities.

Kuff and others point out that these districts were previously held by Republicans who some call moderate. I never thought of them as moderates since their positions with the new GOPers are similar, just with meaner delivery. And since moderates hardly exist anymore, and this election proved that there were indeed two sides from which to choose, what the hell happened?

I’m thinking turn-out. But I also think voters are taking a turn for the stupid and Democrats need to worry about that in 2022. And I mean the Primary, where we will see some judicial and countywide candidates exploiting issues like crime and bonds, which are easily attacked with one liners and only defended with position papers.

Obviously, in a close election, someone is bound to go negative. Campos isn’t too happy that his client in D-I was attacked, but he’s really pissed about the Democratic Party’s involvement in a race between two Democrats and I understand where he’s coming from since everyone seems to want to be a kingmaker, lately.

As Kuff pointed out, Democrats still have a 7-2 edge on the school board, but these right-wing nuts know how to make noise. They know how to blame others for society’s ills–especially those caused by right-wing nuts. So, I don’t see the majority as a strong one. Given how easy candidates were being bought and paid for by the right and special interests all around Houston, the majority can be controlled by the minority. Hell, just look at “Democratic” Washington, DC.

Anyway, I’m of the opinion that a big effort at redistricting HISD is in order if we really want to utilize this majority. There is no reason to have a district that has River Oaks paired with Gulfton, or Sharpstown with West Houston or Northside with the Heights. It’s just too damn diluting. But I’ll leave that to the experts who will probably lecture me on this.

Anyway, it’s on to the 2022 Democratic Primary where some of our favorite officeholders get challenged and are forced to spend money to keep their party nomination. I swear, we love democracy until a fave officeholder gets challenged.

Cops Who Shot Nicolas Chavez 21 Times No Billed

A grand jury no-billed four cops who killed Nicolas Chavez after shooting him 21 times. Chavez was in the midst of an emotional episode when the cops decided to shoot him for not following commands. The grand jury found no probable cause to charge the cops after evidence was presented by DA Kim Ogg’s office.

Add this to the non-prosecution of former HC Deputy Shauna Thompson in the choking murder of John Hernandez and Ogg’s losing record of prosecuting killer cops becomes even more significant. Add to this the fact that Thompson and these four killer cops are not only free to go, but free to be armed and badged again and we’re talking about a community that is endangered.

While then-Chief of Police Acevedo fired the officers, the fact that they were no-billed gives them the right to arbitration to get their jobs back. We are definitely keeping an eye on where these cops end up.

No doubt, our hearts are with the family of Nicolas Chavez as they must relive this tragedy once again. A lawsuit against HPD and the City was already dismissed.

There is an obvious imbalance of justice when the DA complains about judges and bond releases while killer cops are released back into society given the “OK” to do as they please.

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.

LA County Reinstates Indoor Mask Mandate

I was glad to see LA County (CA) being proactive as the COVID-19 positivity and hospitalization numbers are seeing an increase. LA County has reinstated an indoor mask mandate, no matter what ones vaccination status is.

Given recent news of breakthrough cases among famous people (Fluffy) who have dived into the unmasked/unvax’d masses, I think it’s a good idea. I think strong encouragement by our local leaders would also help, since Gomer Fife, Texas Ranger (The Governor) would stop any real mask mandate.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo posted on FB that things are trending in the wrong direction and that people need to get vaccinated. Unfortunately, there was no sounding of an alarm, yet.

Still considered rare, breakthrough cases have shown the vaccines’ effectiveness at preventing severe illness and hospitalization. Comedian Fluffy Iglesias credited the vaccine to his symptoms being mild. Still, some of us don’t want to get COVID-19 or its variants and would rather feel safer than “not as sick as the unvaccinated infected.” Of course, there are also the immunocompromised to think about, but they seem to be the last on the priority list.

Anyway, I implore folks to run their own mask mandate–wear a mask in crowded places and tell those around you to wear one, whether in social gatherings or at work. Don’t allow your bosses and co-workers and those around you to dictate based on their personal feelings, thus, forcing you to feel unsafe. It is happening and there is nothing more annoying than hearing someone tell you, “Oh, I guess you can wear a mask.”

I’m not sure how any more people want to get vaccinated, given the number of unvax’d maskholes in Texas, but those that do not have access need to become a priority. While there are areas in Texas where vaccination rates are dismal (Kuff has more), numbers mean a lot more than percentages here in Harris County and half of the county is still not vaccinated.

If you or anyone needs a vaccine, find a location here.