Governor Abbott and others come out soft on current coronavirus status in Texas

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott focused mostly on hospitals at a press conference on Tuesday as the state is starting to see an uptick in active and new coronavirus cases. Gov. Abbott took no measures to correct his course of trusting that Texans would do the right thing and avoid large crowds, wear face masks or take other social distancing precautions.

“”We’re here today to let Texans know about the abundant hospital capacity that exists,” Gov. Abbott said as he opened the press conference. It was to that end that he ultimately stuck with.

Abbott maintained that the primary cause of the increased number of cases was due in large part to persons under age of 30 who were going to large population places such as bars, celebrations and other events. gov. Abbott specifically mentioned places such as
Lubbock, Cameron and Bexar counties, which have seen major case count increases.

Governor Abbott pointed to an example of Rusk County, in East Texas. “There was a one-off in Rusk County”, Abbott said. “Typically not that many positives, but they reported 104 positives today.”

Abbott said that a majority of the cases that were returned came from tests conducted in a prison in that area.

But all of that aside, Gov. Abbott decided not to focus too much on the problem itself or the policy behind it. His main focus was hospital beds that sources close to the Governor say that he is fully aware will likely be needed.

Texas health officials reported 2,326 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 and 1,254 new cases Monday. On June 12, the state saw 2,166 people in the hospital. That number increased to 2,242 on June 13 and 2,287 on June 14.

Earlier in the day Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales held a press conference that loosely resembled a “campaign stump” speech though urging area residents to continue to follow social distancing practices as confirmed positives continue to rise. Like Abbott, Judge Canales seemingly downplayed the report that Nueces County reported 24 new COVID-19 on Monday.

“These cases are from over the weekend,” Canales said. “Yes, it looks bad.”

Later in the day however, Nueces County health officials reported 31 new cases, bringing the new cumulative case count for the county to 391.

One place of major concern for health managers and members of the public is out on North Padre Island, where reports of restaurants and bars consistently appearing to be above the percentage minimums.

Governor Abbott addressed that in his press conference.

Abbott stressed that a restaurant or bar could lose their liquor license for 30 days on their first violation.

Corpus Christi has been consistently one of the worst regions in the state for the use of face coverings since the pandemic began. Health officials at the state level say that there has been what they are calling “vivid observations” of that fact, and it does concern them. However, Gov. Abbott refuses to require the use of such protective devices. He maintains that they are only a suggestion.

Judge Canales at her press conference seemed to be well aware of the fact a high number of area residents are not taking proper precautions. Time after time during her press conference on Tuesday, Judge Canales did drive home the point that she wanted people to use their personal responsibility and wear a mask, wash their hands and practice social distancing. However, while she pointed out that she could put strict guidance in place, it is highly unlikely that Governor Abbott’s office would back her up on much of it.

Mayors of nine major Texas cities sent a letter to Abbott urging him to allow them to put face mask ordered in place. Their request likely fell on deaf ears as Abbott remains in full protection mode for his earlier decisions that now appear to haunting him both personally and politically.

Nueces County officials will hold their next scheduled press conference on Wednesday. There is no word from the Governor as to when he will address the state once again.

No New Major Outbreaks Of COVID-19 At Texas Prisons

A recent report that has been circulating since last week that a new major outbreak had occurred at a TDCJ facility in Beeville is inaccurate.

TDCJ spokesperson Jeremy Desel confirmed that contrary to some reports, the rumor is unfounded.

”There is no major new out break anywhere” Desel told the Southside Light News. ”We have had results of mass testing if asymptomatic offenders and staff trickle in which are now beyond the 14 day quarantine date.”

While there has been a major uptick in new cases around the state, TDCJ is at least seemingly keeping things under control.

Desel was able to confirm that symptomatic testing has declined six weeks in a row.

Major Service Outages Causing Disruptions

T-Mobile and other wireless carriers throughout the US were experiencing major issues on Monday afternoon.

“Our engineers are working to resolve a voice and data issue that has been affecting customers around the country,” Neville Ray, president of technology for T-Mobile, said in a tweet. “We’re sorry for the inconvenience and hope to have this fixed shortly.”

The service tracker Down Detector reported T-Mobile outages in New York, Florida, Texas, Georgia, California, and the Washington, DC, area. As of 3:09 p.m. ET on Monday, Down Detector had seen over 93,000 reports of T-Mobile outages and varying reports from the other carriers. Phone owners in the US also reported issues on social media Monday afternoon with their cell service, particularly T-Mobile.

While both Down Detector and customers on social media reported that AT&T and Verizon service was down, an AT&T spokesperson told Business Insider its network was “operating normally.” A Verizon spokesperson also told Business Insider the carrier was “operating at normal service levels” and said that, given that “another national carrier” was having issues, calls to and from that carrier might get an error message, resulting in reports of issues.

Here locally, there have been reports from consumers across the wireless spectrum of outages. It seems that while T-Mobile and Sprint, which recently merged, are handling the issue head on, other carriers are also being impacted.

There have also been reports of major internet and power outages across the country today.

A spokesperson for Verizon said “Downdetector is falsely reporting Verizon network issues” and that they are “aware that another carrier is having network issues.” However, Verizon customers across the country are also claiming to be hit by whatever this mess is.

There is no report as to when the problem will end up being resolved or what has led to the disruption.

Construction On Del Mar College South Campus Is On Track

The new Del Mar College Southside Campus is going up and officials with the college say that construction so far is going according schedule.

Melinda Eddleman, Associate Director of Media Relations for Del Mar said that the project is on scheduled and that the anticipated opening in still scheduled for 2022.

The site for the new $139 million dollar campus is situated along the corner of Rodd Field Road and Yorktown, which is designated as an “education corridor,” with access to four high schools and provides both Texas A&M University system campuses (TAMU-CC and Kingsville).

Del Mar College officials estimate that the new campus will be around 3,500 students in its first year.

Data provided by Del Mar shows that some 41% of their certified enrollment (12,008 students) for 2019 came from Southside zip codes.

Rendering of Del Mar College Southside Campus currently under construction along Rodd Field and Yorktown (Rendering: Del Mar College)

The new campus will house programs such as the Architecture/Drafting Technology program, Biology and Bio-sciences programs, and the Hospitality and Culinary programs.

Special Report: Bordering A Potential Catastrophe

Matt Pierce Briscoe

Hospitals in Mexico are being overwhelmed with coronavirus patients and in Juarez, they were recently reported to be at over 100% capacity. In Nuevo Laredo, the situation is much the same. Data from United States Customs and Border Protection tells an even more bleak story than what many Americans even realize and the worse part is that many of them are not even aware of the impacts directly related to them.

The Department of Homeland Security says that they recognize just how overwhelmed the hospitals are just across the border, but there is little that they can except for monitor the situation. They also say that they are following every rule set out from both governments, but the potential catastrophe is causing major concern.

View and Share Matt’s Multimedia Report Here

“We are seeing increased amounts of traffic and limited restrictions,” says one Customs and Border Protection agent in Laredo. “We are doing all that we can do and that is just not a lot.”

Border Patrol agents feel that their hands are tied when it comes to protecting an already highly fortified border between two countries and even if they were somehow more strict, they still would have trouble denying the 1.5 million Americans who call America home, entry into their own country.

Dr. Filipe Chavez says that many of the people that he is encountering are American citizens who are what he calls “very ill” and are needing more advanced treatment.

“They are sick and we do not have the resources here to treat them,” Dr. Chavez said on Saturday. “If you can be treated in the United States then by all means do it.”

See Matt’s Multimedia Report Here

The rules that are in place right now do not forbid that from happening. In fact, guidance says that people who are seeing medical treatment in the United States are allowed to cross the border without too much of a hassle.

“We will not prevent somebody who can lawfully cross into Texas from doing so,” one CBP official said. “If they have the right to be here then there is an understanding that we will allow them to do what they need to do and go where they need to go.”

Dr. Chavez says that some of the patients that he is seeing can travel to and from the United States and he encourages them to do so, if they can.

“Most of our ventilators are going to Mexico City,” Dr. Chavez says. “I don’t have nearly enough to handle the patients that I have already. The Government tells us that we may not even be able to get more until at least August and by then I am afraid that we will be completely overwhelmed.”

Current restrictions are set to expire on at just before midnight on June 21, 2020 but many feel like they will likely be renewed.

“Oh sure, just like in the USA we have restrictions and they are actually even more strict,” Dr. Chavez says. “But just like in America, the people are not listening and the government is not enforcing.”

Dr. Chavez says that he feels that there are similarities between the two systems and that is contributing to the problems on both sides of the border.

Mexican government estimates show that as many as one million Mexican citizens could be currently without work. Local estimates have that number much higher. Mexico has a very large population of uninsured citizens as it is, but when a person has a lapse in coverage they are forced to deal with public hospitals like the one where Dr. Chavez treats his patients.

View The Multimeda Report Here

“So many of us either have coronavirus, had coronavirus or are at risk of getting it,” he says. “We do not have the PPE to keep us safe and there is very little signal that we will get what we need.”

But what about those restrictions that are in place on both sides of the border? As it is now, Mexican citizens are not supposed to be out and about unless it is to seek medical supplies, go to work, get groceries preform other essential functions. According to officials, that is not exactly being enforced.

(Photo: The Southside Light)

“Just like in the United States people are living their own lives and they are ignoring the rules,” Dr. Chavez says. “Like you, we have government officials handing out rules and regulations but just like you, we like our freedom to do what we want, when we want.”

Some maintain that the coronavirus does not like heat and humidity. Health data and practical response lends to the idea that it has little impact on the virus.

On Saturday it was well over 90 degrees here in the border region and new cases were popping up everywhere you look.

“I feel like that is a medical myth,” says Dr. Gloria de Jesus Molina Gamboa, Secretary of Health for the Government of Tamaulipas. “If that is the case then by now we would have seen a significant decrease in the number of cases and we have not.”

She says that the government is doing all that they can do, but there is still so much to be done. It is her view that the situation is quickly becoming dire. Her office and her staff have all heard and seen the problems, but there is little that they feel like they can do.

“”In recent days we have recorded the highest numbers of cases yet,” Dr. Molina Gamboa said.

On Sunday, 130 new cases and 8 deaths in Tamaulipas. Those numbers take the official figures to 3,389 confirmed, 1255 recovered and 211 deaths.

Just the day before, officials in Tamaulipas reported 152 new cases of COVID-19 and 9 deaths.

Twenty of those cases reported on Saturday were from Nuevo Laredo. 49 cases were reported in Reynosa.

“We are seeing a lot of people traveling across and going back and forth,” says Reynoldo Saenz with the CBP. “We see people from not just here in the border towns but places like where you are from in Corpus Christi and San Antonio.”

Saenz says that he is concerned that people are crossing and making matters worse.

“This is going to be a really big problem,” he says. “We are going to have to face it one way or the other one day. That stay is coming sooner or later unless we can figure out a way to get control of this and get control of it now because people on both sides are not taking this very seriously.”

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