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Posts published in “Day: April 16, 2020

Jacinto City moves May Election

JACINTO CITY – The city council met at their regular time last Thursday evening, and on the Agenda was an item to consider moving the May 2nd Municipal Election to a different date.

Governor Abbott had sent instructions to all municipalities to consider moving their election date to November, due to concerns about people congregating at the polls during the Covid-19 virus pandemic and subsequent lockdown. He strongly advised this action, with possible discipline if it was not followed.

The council voted to move the election, but did not specify a date, only that it would be in the future. City Manager Lon Squyres said it might be in July, when a run-off election is scheduled in the county, or November.

The council meeting was unusual, because it took place in the new police building, with all participants observing “social distancing” and the public participating by video conference.

Some elections are still scheduled May 2, including the Barbers Hill bond referendum, and Mont Belvieu municipal offices.

Harris County Expands COVID-19 Testing

One of 14 Drive-thru test sites in Harris County, at Forest Brook MS

Mobile Units to Reach All Precincts, Conduct 200 Tests Per Day

HARRIS COUNTY – County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced last Monday, April 13, 2020, that two new Harris County Public Health (HCPH) mobile units will provide drive-through testing for COVID-19, adding up to 200 tests per day to the county’s current testing capacity. Each pop-up site, which will rotate locations across the precincts starting Tuesday, will be able to make up to 100 drive-through tests per day. Additionally, testing capacity at HCPH’s two existing stationary sites will increase to 500 tests per location, per day, starting Wednesday.

These two units are in addition to 13 Drive-Thru sites around the county, both public and private. These include 2 Harris County sites, 2 City of Houston sites, 4 free sites by UMMC, and 3 sites by MD Medical.

“Until we make testing accessible to everyone who needs it, we will not be able to fully tackle this disease in Harris County,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “These efforts are a key step forward, but they’re not enough. We have to be nimble. We have to reach underserved communities and expand our ability to help folks identify if they are sick, and isolate immediately.”

EMS is ‘Front Line’ against Covid-19

This accident occurred on US Hwy 90 Westbound at Janacek Rd. at 12:38 pm on April 6, 2020. One patient endured entrapment, calling into play an array of first responders, equipment and subsequently a Life Flight was made to rescue a mother. Call volume overall for Harris County ESD #5, Crosby’s ambulance service, decreased since the beginning of the quarantine. But motor vehicle accidents remained consistent.

HARRIS COUNTY – Crews of First Responders are thrust into the front lines of the war on COVID-19, and deserve recognition for their sacrifice. EMS technicians must answer calls that might include virus victims, and therefore they train and prepare for this contingency, as well as their normal emergency calls.

An example is Harris County ESD #5, Crosby’s ambulance service. They are medical troopers working with local fire departments and law enforcement for the safety of our community.

Asking Medical Chief and Director of Operations Christy Graves, CCEMT-P, how are treatments and procedures changing nowadays will get this response: “So, we are having to maintain our normal emergency response work and response to sick and possible COVID-19 positive patients. We have had to stay alert as well as change our protocols often, sometimes daily, in order to provide the best care for all citizens during this endemic. This includes the PPE we wear to protect everybody because of how close we interview the patients. Obviously, we have to touch people to provide emergency care. We have developed very stringent guidelines to do this including limiting the number of care providers inside the ambulance with patients. We are no longer allowing extra riders including family members to increase safety. The driver of the ambulance is also completely sealed from the rear. This creates a closed ventilation system to help in decontamination of the ambulances.”

San Jacinto River Coalition holds virtual meeting

Jackie Young Medcalf on
THEA video report.

HIGHLANDS – The San Jacinto River Coalition and its sister organization, THEA held its monthly meeting last Tuesday night by video instead of its usual in-person meet.

The group had skipped its March meeting due to the scheduled wedding of its president, Jackie Young (now Young Medcalf). Then they were faced with the inability to have its April meeting at the community center, due to the lockdown of county facilities because of the Covid-19 flu epidemic. Undaunted, Ms. Medcalf recorded a report which included news of the SJR Waste Pits, the Superfund Jones Road site in Cypress, and even her wedding.

A major question on the minds of many of the Coalition members, and others in the community, is whether the Covid-19 lockdown will affect the schedule of removal of the waste pits. Jackie has discussed this with the EPA project manager, Gary Baumgarten, and reports that work is continuing at the EPA, the engineering consultants, and even on-site remedial repair work. There is no indication of a major delay in the milestone dates of the project, he said.

On-site work is in the river just beyond the north edge of the cap, where the storm Imelda caused erosion of the river bed. Contractors are repairing and restoring much of the material that washed away, to protect the cap. The company in charge of the onsite work has submitted an addendum to their Health and Safety work plan to the EPA, indicating additional protection for their workers from the Covid-19 virus.

THEA’s short term goal is to protect the public and the environment from any contamination from the toxins in the waste pits. Their long-term goal, Jackie says, is to continue work on removal and relocation and storage of the dioxins and other toxic materials.

Constable Diaz responds to lawsuit

Pct. 2 Constable Chris Diaz

Accused of Retaliation

The following article was submitted by Constable Chris Diaz:

On March 12, 2020, Harris County Precinct Two Constable Christopher Diaz moved to dismiss as baseless a federal lawsuit in which the plaintiffs have alleged Constable Diaz violated plaintiff’s rights under the First Amendment.

Constable Diaz’s motion to dismiss demonstrates the plaintiffs, several former employees and one current employee, did not engage in any constitutionally protected conduct and, further, there is no connection between any plaintiff’s allegedly protected conduct and a complained of, actionable employment decision. In fact, several plaintiffs have failed to even allege Constable Diaz had any direct involvement in the plaintiffs’ reassignment, discipline, or discharge at all.

Precinct Two’s records, available to the public under the Public Information Act, further refute each plaintiff’s baseless accusations and demonstrate the following: