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Posts published in June 2020

County mandates masks; Governor refuses statewide order

LEFT: Judge Hidalgo wearing a mask. Harris County and Houston have issued orders requiring masks for businesses, employees and customers.Violating Businesses are subject to $1000 fines. RIGHT: Governor Abbott wears a face mask on Tuesday at a press conference, where he urged voluntary wearing of masks and social distancing, but refused to issue an order making them mandatory.

As hospital admissions for COVID-19 continue to climb across the county, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo signed an order requiring businesses to generate, post, and implement health and safety policies which include, at a minimum, a requirement that workers, customers or visitors wear face coverings. The order took effect on Monday, June 22, 2020 and runs until Tuesday, June 30, 2020.

The order directs all commercial entities providing goods or services to require that all employees or visitors to a business premise wear face coverings in areas that involve any proximity to co-workers or the public. Face coverings may include homemade masks, scarfs, bandanas, or a handkerchief. Commercial entities must post the health and safety policy in a conspicuous location sufficient to provide notice to employees and visitors of all health and safety requirements.

“There’s no magic wand government can wave to make this virus go away, but we can take steps to ensure that we provide our community with the guidance and tools it needs to fight back,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “This isn’t just the right thing to do for our health and safety, it’s also good for business. We owe it to our community to ensure that those who do have to go out can have the confidence in knowing that the businesses they are patronizing are looking out for their customers, workers, and community as a whole.”

To support the development of health and safety policies, Harris County is making available a sample health and safety policy and additional guidelines for businesses. Businesses that fail to develop, post, and implement a Health and Safety Policy are subject to a $1,000 for each violation.

EXCEPTIONS TO FACE COVERING ORDER

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LyondellBasell donates $25,000 to Precinct2gether to help fight hunger in the Channelview and Northshore area

Houston, June 15, 2020 – Four Houston-area LyondellBasell (NYSE: LYB) sites have teamed up with Harris County Precinct 2 to fight hunger among vulnerable groups and promote early literacy. LyondellBasell’s Channelview, La Porte and Bayport manufacturing sites and its Houston Refinery donated a combined $25,000 to Precinct2gether.

The donation supports Precinct2gether’s COVID19 Meal Distribution Expansion program and Read2gether, an affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library that sends free books to preschoolers to help prepare them for kindergarten.

“My office has worked tirelessly to lessen the impact of this pandemic through our extensive food and education programs which are funded through our non-profit – Precinct2Gether,” said Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia. “I am grateful to LyondellBasell for their generous donation, which will enable us to sustain in part our food distribution program that is providing approximately three tons of food every week to Precinct 2 residents. LyondellBasell recognizes that #WeAreInIt2gether.”

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North Shore Football opens Aug. 29 vs. De La Salle

NORTH SHORE – Current plans are for the Mustangs to open the football season with a first, a game against a nationally recognized top team. The game will take place on Saturday, August 29 at Galena Park ISD field, unless the pandemic forces a change in the schedule or venue.

The game between two national Powerhouse teams would be telecast on ESPN network. The two teams have won 10 state championships, 6 for De La Salle in California, and 4 for North Shore.

The game would be part of a double-header, which would include Shadow Creek vs. Philadelphia’s St. Joseph Prep.

Coach Jon Kay

Coach Jon Kay told the North Channel Star, at a recent appearance at North Shore Rotary, the significance of this matchup is national attention to the North Shore team, and the increased possibility that the team’s players would be recruited by the NFL scouts.

If the California team is unable to make the trip to Houston, due to restrictions from the virus concerns, then the opening game would see North Shore play Shadow Creek at the GPISD stadium.

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Early voting in Runoff starts June 29

HARRIS COUNTY – Voters are being asked to return to the polls on July 14, or earlier if voting in an Early Voting location or by mail.

Run-offs are scheduled on the Democratic ticket for US Senator, between Mary MJ Hegar and Royce West, and US Representative in District 10, Mike Siegel vs. Pritesh Gandhi.

For Railroad Commissioner, Roberto Alonzo is opposed by Christa Castaneda; for State Board of Education, Michelle Palmer vs. Kimberly McLeod.

Of major interest in this area are Democratic State Representatives, County Commissioners, and Constables.

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San Jacinto River Coalition: Virtual Meetings keeping public informed

By Gilbert Hoffman

The San Jacinto River Coalition normally meets every month on the first Tuesday, at a local community center. But since the Covid-19 lockdown mandated by Harris County, the community centers have been closed. To keep the community informed, SJRC/THEA director Jackie Young has been hold virtual reports that are available on the TxHEA.com website.

In her May Report, she discussed the importance of the I-10 bridge and roadway to commerce locally and throughout the nation. She said that TxDOT is planning on replacing the bumper structures that protect the columns supporting the bridge. These columns were severely damaged twice last year by barge strikes. She said that TxDOT is planning a public meeting in the fall to inform the public and receive comments on the project.

In regard to the waste pits, EPA is testing the crushed concrete and blocks that are part of the Cap cover. The idea is that they might be re-used as landfill after the toxic waste is removed, but only if they have no toxicity. As part of the study, they are also checking the quality of the groundwater, to know how to treat it during remediation.

The next step in remediation is for the engineers to present the 30% Design Package to the EPA for review and approval. At some point this will be made public, and THEA can review it to check what direction the process will be headed.

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Two COVID-19 deaths in Chambers County

Chambers County reports its first two COVID19 related deaths.

The first decedent was a male, aged 70 to 80-years-old. The second decedent was a female, aged 40 to 50-years-old. Both had underlying health conditions.

In order to protect patient privacy, Chambers County Public Health is unable to release any additional information.

“We are deeply saddened to report this news and we offer our deepest heartfelt condolences to the families of these patients during this difficult time,” said Chambers County Judge Jimmy Sylvia.

These deaths come after climbing numbers of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Chambers County.

“We continue to see an exponential increase in case counts in Chambers County and throughout the Region,” said Local Health Authority W. Clay Brown, MD.

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Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo implements new COVID-19 public threat level system

4-level, color-coded system to help residents navigate current state of virus spread.

Harris County Hospital Admissions Reach Highest Level to Date

Harris County, Texas – June 11, 2020 — As hospital admissions for COVID-19 in Harris County reach their highest level ever, today County Judge Lina Hidalgo unveiled a new public threat level system designed to help residents understand the threat level from COVID-19 and provide clear guidance on steps the general public must take to protect themselves, their community, and support the conditions to avoid a crisis and sustainably reopen the local economy.

The system, informed by the latest data from local health authorities, research institutions, and public health experts, informs a color-coded level indi-levels: Level 1 severe (red), Level 2 significant (orange), Level 3 moderate (yellow), and Level 4 minimal (green). Along with the level of transmission are actions residents should follow: Stay home, (red); minimize all contacts (orange); stay vigilant (yellow); and resume normal contacts (green). To help residents easily understand and navigate the current level of risk, the county has shared an indicator dial on readyharris.org, along with descriptions of the latest data-driven community guidelines.

“We all want to get back to work, see our friends, hug our family, go out to eat, and resume our livelihoods without limitations, but we still have a long road ahead of us to end this epidemic,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “We owe it to our residents to make sure we’re providing clear, consistent, and data-based information to keep them as healthy and safe as possible. Our only way out of this crisis is for our community to work together to avoid further uncontrolled transmission of this virus so that we can be in a position to reopen our economy in a way that is sustainable over the long term.”

Regardless of current level indicated, all residents should continue the use of social distancing, frequent hand washing, and the use of face coverings until there is a vaccine or a treatment for the virus. Additionally, residents exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days regardless of level indicated.

Consistent with the latest threat data the current level of the advisory system is set to Level 2 (orange): minimize all contacts.

Information and public guidance posture for each level is as follows:

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Search continues for Vanessa Guillen, soldier who vanished from Fort Hood

Army Private First Class Vanessa Guillen 20 has been missing for 2 months without a trace. Last seen April 22 between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. in the parking lot of her Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood. Her Military Occupational Specialty is a 91F, Small Arms/Artillery Repairer. (Photos provided by Guillen family)

EXCLUSIVE Reward increased to $50K

By Allan Jamail

Houston, Tx. – June 15, 2020 — North Channel Star photo journalist Allan Jamail interviewed Mayra Guillen, the missing Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen’s sister, to obtain this story.

Mayra said, “My sister loved the army. She dreamed about wanting to serve the country. She joined right after graduating from Houston’s César E. Chavez High School at age 18. She graduated in the top 15% of her high school class. In school she was athletic; she liked sports jogging and soccer. At the base she loved to jog and exercise in the gym.”

“Upon joining the army first she was sent to South Carolina for boot camp, and then Virginia for training, before lastly being station at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. She lived on the base because from our Houston home to the base, it’s a three hour drive.”

“She enjoyed Fort Hood until recently, but then something changed. Shortly before her disappearance she began acting unusual and had trouble sleeping. This never happened before. She finally told our mother (Gloria) she was being sexually harassed by one of her sergeants. Mother tried to convince her to give her the name of the harassing sergeant, but she didn’t want to get mother involved or in trouble. She also said he would follow her whenever she would go jogging or to exercise and how uncomfortable he made her feel. She said she knew of other female soldiers who had reported sexual harassment and the Army didn’t believe them. She felt she could put a stop to it herself. She was ready to take care of his harassment near the time of her disappearance.”

“From the bottom of my heart, I strongly believe my sister is alive. I believe whoever is keeping her hostage is doing it for a reason, because they know that at this point if we find her deceased, it’s going to be much worse, I just hope they’re keeping her okay,” Mayra concluded.

Vanessa’s mother Gloria said, “My nights are long with agony and sadness to think my daughter is suffering so much and being kept away from her family.”

She wants the case to be led by the FBI. The Army Criminal Investigation Command now leads the investigation.

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Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia exposed to deadly virus, self-quarantined

Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (Photo by Allan Jamail)

By Allan Jamail

Houston, TX. – June 16, 2020 – Today Congresswoman Garcia told NC Star writer Allan Jamail that she’s in self-quarantine because of being exposed to a family member who had recently tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

After consulting with her physician and the Attending Physician of the United States Congress, the Congresswoman went into self-isolating for the period of time recommended by the CDC.

Today Garcia said, “I’m thankful my #COVID19 test came back negative, but I still need to self-isolate and watch for symptoms out of an abundance of caution.”

“Working on behalf of the people of the Texas 29th Congressional District in the midst of this pandemic is my highest priority and I will be taking the necessary precautions to make sure I can continue fighting for our community. I want this to serve as a reminder for everyone in the Houston region and across the country that we are still combating COVID-19 and that everyone should be following public health guidelines that will help keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy,” she said.

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Harris County COVID-19 relief fund to open public application for aid

HOUSTON, TX (June 17, 2020) – The Harris County COVID-19 Relief Fund will open its public application to all eligible Harris County residents in its second phase of fund deployment. The public application will be open Tuesday, June 23 and Wednesday, June 24, 2020.

“The fund’s main goal is, and always has been, to help those most vulnerable in our communities,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “That’s why, in the design of this process, it was paramount that this application be as intuitive and accessible as possible for all members of our community. We’ve taken extra steps to establish two ways to apply, extend the hours the application will be open, and ensure language and time accessibility for those with different working schedules.”

To ensure a fair, accessible application process, the public can access the application in two ways once it opens: online or over the phone. Applications will not be accepted at the Greater Houston Community Foundation office.

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