Friday, September 11, 2020

Tellurian Postpones Permian Global Access Pipeline

Tellurianm dropped the Permian Global Access Pipeline from phase 1 of its plans to transform the global LNG market.  PGAP would've provided West Texas natural gas to the company's planned Driftwood terminal in Louisiana.  A company presentation indicated Tellurian deferred two pipelines.

PGAP crossed tributaries feeding Twin Buttes Reservoir and Lake Nasworthy.  Landowners along Spring Creek, Dove Creek and the South Concho River can breathe a sigh of relief for now.  

Tellurian could still develop the pipeline at a later date. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

City Staff Propose Health Services Budget Cut during Pandemic

City Council will entertain a proposal to cut the Health Services budget from $468,203 to $462,646 for the coming fiscal year.  Health Services is responsible for public health emergency preparedness.

Public Health Emergency Preparedness is responsible for planning, preparing for and responding to all types of public health threats and emergencies that impact the health of San Angelo. 
Other department charges for Health Services are $113,900 but there is no explanation of that number in Council's budget workshop packet.

Our current COVID-19 outbreak caused 364 hospitalizations and 40 deaths to date.  Roughly 50 patients have been "currently hospitalized" for the last two and a half weeks.

This public health crisis resulted in serious illness and loss of life for area citizens.  City staff should explain our local response to Council and the funds needed to address areas needing attention.

Mayor Brenda Gunter is doing her part, however it is not clear City Council is in support.  I have seen one Councilperson, Mrs. Billie DeWitt, offer her gratitude and support to the Mayor for her hard work.  Hopefully that will change.

Update 8-17-20:   Council talked about COVID-19 under health insurance but not as a public health emergency and what responses may be needed in the coming fiscal year.

Friday, August 07, 2020

Positivity Rate Remains High

San Angelo's post Memorial Day coronavirus explosion waned slightly after peaking with two nursing home cases announcement.  Our community has a long way to go to get below the recommended 5% positivity rate.  Tom Green County is currently at 17% positive since testing began and over 24% positive the last seven days.

Update 8-11-20:  Local Health Authority James Vretis said testing volume is way down, even though our positivity rate remains high.   Did the illness suddenly go away or are public health officials flying blind?  Time will tell.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Case Doubling Rate Beginning to Slow

Tom Green County's COVID-19 cases finally slowed its rate of doubling since the end of May.  While an early sign it could indicate citizens are taking our epidemic more seriously.   Hospitalizations remain over 40 patients per day and unfortunately deaths keep creeping up.  Twenty people in our area have died from this disease.

Neighbors take care of each other.  We can get through this together.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

San Angelo's 28% Positive Rate Also Applies to Council

The City of San Angelo is in the midst of a public health emergency, according to its declaration.  A city function is public health emergency preparedness.  Yesterday, four citizens died from the coronavirus, over a 25% increase in deaths.

One might expect local public health officials to update City Council on the emergency, identify areas needing improvement and seeking support and resources from Council to do so.  That did not happen on 7-21 and has not occurred since cases have gotten out of control.

Mayor Brenda Gunter and Local Health Authority Dr. James Vretis have been front and center in tackling our local health emergency.  Months ago City Attorney Theresa James indicated she was doing contact tracing. Cases have since soared.

The city has gone to having people with positive tests submit a form to be released from their caseload.  In a recent interview Dr. Vretis indicated some citizens are not taking their situation seriously.

I submitted public comment for the last Council meeting requesting city staff update City Council on our local outbreak.  Only one member spoke after public comments, Councilperson Billie DeWitt,  Mrs. DeWitt complimented the Mayor on her hard work.  No other Council member spoke on the public health crisis facing our community, which was not on their agenda.

Consider how the number of people in the hospital on a daily basis rose over the last month.

Mayor Gunter shared many concerning statistics.  Yet at the end of the meeting no Council member asked for an update from city staff on our health emergency when planning their next meeting.

Broken sewer lines got more attention from Council.  The Mayor is swimming upstream on this crisis.  As most Council members have held their tongue it is hard to know if  they are fouling the water.

Two out of seven council members, 28%, have been vocal on a huge problem the city is charged with addressing.  Ironically, the positive test result rate for the last three weeks is almost 28%.  Both numbers show San Angelo has a long way to go. 

Friday, July 17, 2020

Texas and Tom Green County See Rising Cases

Texas experienced a significant increase in positive COVID-19 cases since June 1st, recently exceeding 10,000 new cases per day, not once, but five times.

Our local graph looks much the same.

Tom Green County had 106 confirmed coronavirus cases omn June 1st.  It's now 1,343.   Rising case counts means more hospitalizations and deaths.

One June 1st Tom Green County had 19 active cases.  That number soared to 802 on July 16th.

What are the local health department's plans to stem this concerning rise?  Local elected officials should want to hear such plans at their upcoming City Council meeting. 

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Cases Doubling at a Faster Rate

The time it has taken for positive COVID-19 cases to double was nearly three weeks as cases went from 95 to over 190.  The next doubling took less than two weeks (190 to 380).  The most recent doubling took less than ten days (from 380 to 760).  This pattern, along with Tom Green County's 25.8% positivity rate, should be most concerning to elected officials and local public health officers.

San Angelo City Council plans to meet Tuesday for a budget workshop.  Council has not heard a presentation on our community's deteriorating public health situation, which includes nearly two dozen positive COVID-19 cases for residents at Regency House, an area nursing facility.

Public Health Emergency Preparedness is responsible for planning, preparing for and responding to all types of public health threats and emergencies that impact the health of San Angelo.
What increased resources are needed beyond the City Attorney for contact tracing as cases have soared?  How has mask usage changed over time, especially since Governor Abbott's executive order?  Should cases and hospitalizations continue rising at a rapid rate how long before our local hospitals are challenged in responding to the level of need?

City Council representatives know people in their districts and are in a position to influence behavior.  So far, Mayor Brenda Gunter has been out front in leading on this issue with Local Health Authority Dr. James Vretis.  I am sure health department staff have worked hard, but that department has been whittled down severely since I moved her in 1995.   Today's city news revealed:

Our health department is behind on getting people released from quarantine/isolation due to the increase in positive cases of COVID-19. If you are currently under quarantine or isolation (either a positive COVID-19 case or a contact to a known case) and have met the requirements to be released, please fill out this form on our website.
Our current case explosion merits public presentation and sharing of strategies to stem the increase in cases.  Data on the effectiveness of those strategies could be shared.  Tuesday, July 21st is Council's next opportunity to lead on this issue.  We will know by then if there has been another doubling (from 760 to 1520).

Update 7-14-20:  Case count is now 1160, with active cases at 664.  Nine people have died.  Eight deaths occurred in the last three weeks

Update 7-15-20:  Case count is now 1265, with active cases at 740.  Texas set new records today with 10,791 new positive cases and 110 COVID-19 deaths.