Friday, October 15, 2021

Council to Proclaim Animal Services


The City of San Angelo Animal Shelter recently achieved a 90% live release rate, a goal set in 2015.  City Council will honor this achievement with a proclamation in their next meeting. 

The shelter took in roughly 8,000 animals in 2014.  That went down to 4,500 in 2020, a 43% decrease. The Animal Shelter budget soared in the opposite direction from roughly $750,000 to over $1 million in 2020, a 38% increase.  Staff also increased from 12 to 17.

The proclamation fails to mention in 2019 the shelter stopped most citizens from surrendering their pet via managed intake, nixing the major reason pets went into the shelter.  Owner illness and death were no longer valid reasons for an animal to be surrendered to the shelter.  The city will not help someone needing a new home for their pets due to moving into assisted living or a nursing facility.  

The shelter has refused stray animals captured at area employers.  That may be part of added managed intake for unowned pets, adopted in fall 2019.  In addition, the shelter restricted services to city limits in March 2021.

Area rescues continue to be impacted by the shelter's choking off intake.  Rescues experience dogs and cats that have been adopted from the shelter and remain unaltered.  Shelter adoption coordinator PAWS refuses to take back pets, many given away for no charge.  Those people call areas rescues, asking them to re-home their free shelter dog.

American Pets Alive asks participating shelters to work collaboratively with area rescues.  City staff contacted the only community cat sponsoring organization three times in the last two years, all via e-mail.  The majority of euthanized animals are cats.  

The shelter released fifty unaltered cats into San Angelo neighborhoods from October 2020 to February 2021.  


They did not send these animals through PAWS SNIP program nor did they inform the public of their actions.  I would want to know if the city or PAWS was dumping unaltered cats on my block.  One Council member wanted to know what was going on with cats. 

The current Shelter Director grossly misrepresented community cat history to the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee in their June meeting.  The Director did not pass on an offer from the sponsoring organization to share their efforts and successes.  That person went even further, running down the city's only rescue helping cat colony managers.  Numerous city leaders joined in the verbal undermining.

The city does not require its adoption coordinator to share compliance with the mandatory spay/neuter ordinance, microchipping or rabies vaccination.  It has that ability via standard contract language from 2018 but refuses to provide that information in public information requests.

Cutting services to meet a target caused damage and heartache to many residents.  Citizens will judge City Council and the Animal Shelter by their deeds.  PAWS claimed the shelter euthanized 80% of animals in 2016.  City data showed the number to be half that.      

Is this lying or image polishing?  There is much to proclaim if one wants to see the whole picture.  

Update 10-16-21:  San Angelo Live shared PAWS fiction in a piece on the proclamation.  The proclamation recognizing the significant strides made in the past six years shows PAWS lying.

The death rate has decreased from over 67% to under 10% of all release outcomes.

The City of San Angelo website also shows PAWS 80% kill rate is not factual.   

"We made improvements under this plan, increasing the live-release rate from 33% in fiscal year 2015 to 47% in fiscal year 2018." 

The City is yet to share its intake and euthanasia totals for the last twelve months. How much further did they choke off intake and not serve taxpaying citizens?

Saturday, October 02, 2021

COVID-19 Documentary on San Angelo Coming

 

NBC will air a documentary revealing how little citizens in our community care for one another.  The trailer arrived after San Angelo's highest death month since the pandemic began.  The City Health Department announced 65 deaths in September, eclipsing the 64 people dying from COVID-19 in January.  

The video shows Local Health Authority Dr. James Vretis, who recently tried to reduce COVID spread in Tom Green County schools but was thrown under the yellow bus by state and local elected officials, as well as school district leaders.

I spoke with Shannon Medical Center health professionals who are disturbed by the aggressive nature of citizens unwilling to protect themselves, much less their neighbors.  

When I moved to West Texas nearly thirty years ago I learned two things that made the Concho Valley great.  One, people took care of one another when times got tough and two, not having an interstate highway kept out riff-raft.  

San Angelo is on track for not one, but two interstate highways.  COVID-19 blew a hole in neighbor caring for neighbor.  Dr. Vretis can't do public health with a bitterly divided public and a minimally staffed health department that has been reduced to making phone calls and counting cases.  The City gutted its health department over the last two decades and closed its clinics for over a year due to the pandemic.

San Angelo had 111 coronavirus deaths the last two months, 430 since the pandemic began.  The U.S. passed 700,000 COVID deaths.  This public health crisis revealed much about the fabric of our community and it is clearly torn.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Record Month for COVID Deaths


Sixty five people died from COVID-19 in September, according to statistics from the City of San Angelo Health Department.  September's deaths exceeded the previous record of 64 deaths in January.  

Local Health Authority Dr. James Vretis attempted to mandate masks in Tom Green County Schools as deaths began increasing in August.  San Angelo Live reported reactions from local leaders:

“I learned about it the afternoon the order was put out,” said Tom Green County Judge Steve Floyd. Tuesday afternoon, the controversial mask mandate for all schools in the county was about to be released when Floyd first heard about it. Two days later, Floyd said Thursday morning that he was on the phone with the Texas Attorney General’s office. Tom Green County had landed to AG Ken Paxton’s “List.” The Republican ally of Governor Greg Abbott had compiled a list of counties that were defying the governor’s order forbidding the issuance of a mandate to wear a mask. Tom Green County was highlighted.

“I said, ‘look, I had nothing to do with it. I don’t have that authority,’” Floyd relayed his plea to Paxton’s office. Floyd said the mandate came exclusively from Tom Green County Health Authority Dr. James Vretis and Vretis is not in the county judge’s chain of command. In fact, Vretis, in his capacity as health authority, answers ultimately to the governor himself.

Mayor Brenda Gunter was more surprised with the mask mandate for schools than Floyd. She said the first she heard of it was when citizens blew up her phone. Some even stopped by her restaurant to give her a piece of their minds.

“I had no idea this was going to happen,” she said.

Floyd heads up an informal countywide coronavirus task force with key leaders, like from the city, county, school districts, Angelo State University, and Goodfellow Air Force Base. He said the committee met via teleconference on Monday and nothing was mentioned about issuing a mask mandate the very next day.

By mid-morning Wednesday after the issuance of the mask mandate by Vretis, many school districts were announcing intentions to not follow the order.

“If we have a mask mandate, who is going to enforce it?” Floyd asked.

Local leaders finally spoke out publicly via a series of videos on September 10th, doing so after positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths had risen dramatically.

Will anything happen to Dr. Vretis? Tom Green County Judge Steve Floyd washed his hands of the whole affair. “He works for the City of San Angelo. That’s for Brenda to decide,” he said.
I think Dr. Vretis deserves a West Texas "Neighbor Caring for Neighbor" Award.  Vretis tried to stem the loss of life that was predictable.  He got nothing but push-back.  City Council, outside Mayor Brenda Gunter, has sat on their mouths throughout this pandemic.

Texas state and local leaders pinned their hopes on the Delta variant flying through our community (it has) and reaching herd immunity (remains to be seen).  Shannon Medical Center hospitalizations are down from the seventies to the fifties on a daily basis.  

I feel for Shannon doctors and nurses who worry about verbal outrage and physical violence from patients.  I can't imagine trying to serve patients who denigrate their physician's professional medical knowledge.  

I was told West Texans helped one another in times of crisis when I moved here nearly thirty years ago.  Since the pandemic hit our community I tried to avoid bringing COVID-19 to elderly relatives.  Large sections of our community did not share the same concern.

Since the Delta variant hit Vretis showed more West Texas caring than state officials, local leaders or many Conch Valley citizens. 

Update 10-13-21:  Fresh off our deadliest month Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order banning vaccine mandates.   Health professionals know the Texas Governor is not working on their behalf.  Private hospitals no longer have the freedom to protect their staff and patients.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

COVID Deaths Almost at January Levels


San Angelo's Health Department reported three more COVID-19 deaths today bringing the total to 402.  Over the last thirty days the city issued news reports on 62 deaths.  That's nearly the level of January 2021 when 64 patients died from COVID-19. 

Shannon Medical Center physicians shared their concerns about the Delta variant via video on August 24, 2021.  They painted a dire situation and asked citizens to get vaccinated and wear masks in public places.  

Nearly 40 more deaths occurred before local leaders rang the alarm to citizens in a series of videos on September 10th. Five days later ASU President Ronnie Hawkins announced a return to 100% face to face classes for on campus students beginning tomorrow.  Hawkins recommended masks and getting vaccinated, however there are many ASU employees and students who've refused both public health strategies thus far.  

Recent shopping trips revealed few citizens wearing masks.  Deaths are a lagging indicator as it can take weeks to months for people to perish from COVID-19.  Vaccines take time to build immunity.  Wearing a mask is the most immediate thing a citizen can do to protect their neighbor.

Update 9-21-21:  Deaths now total 406.   That's 65 deaths announced in the last thirty one days, which exceeds the highest monthly death toll since the pandemic began. 

Update 9-23-21:  Deaths reached 410 today. We remain in a bad time for people perishing from COVID-19.  

Update 9-25-21:  With 412 deaths announced yesterday, the last month has seen 65 deaths from COVID-19.  

Update 9-28-21:  Total deaths are now 424.  The City announced 7 new deaths today.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Resurfacing Rio Concho Again for $1.4 million


City Council will take up seventeen items in the Consent Agenda when it meets on September 9th.   Item eleven is:

k.  Consider awarding ES-05-21 Rio Concho Full Depth Reclamation to Reece Albert, Inc. in the amount of $1,396,642.86 and authorizing the City Manager to negotiate and execute all related documents

The Rio Concho rehabilitation, from S. Magdalen to Bell Street, involves a full depth reclamation (FDR) of the roadway. FDR is a reincorporation of the existing asphalt pavement and the existing base material along with cement and asphalt additives to provide a solid foundation for a new pavement surface.

Years ago the city tried to rehabilitate portions of Rio Concho with its new $1.2 million Benedetti machine.  



The pilot operation produced a less than uniform surface for drivers. The City eventually returned the Benedetti machine after failing to make it work as intended.  

Another gateway to the Downtown Business District is slated for renewal.

Update 9-11-21:  City Council approved the $1.4 resurfacing of Rio Concho in the Consent Agenda with no discussion of the item.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Number of COVID-19 Deaths Rise in August

 

The City of San Angelo Health Department reported 46 COVID-19 deaths for August, 18 of which were reported in the last week.  Yesterday there were over 150 new positive tests and nearly 80 patients hospitalized with COVID-19.  

COVID-19 vaccination rates in Tom Green County remain below the Texas average of 53%.  Locally only 38% of the population is fully vaccinated, while 44% received at least one dose.  Vaccination rates in surrounding counties are lower than Tom Green County. 

Masks and social distancing remain important measures as vaccinated persons can get COVID-19 and have a similar viral load as the unvaccinated.  

Shannon Medical Center doctors sounded the alarm on rising hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths from COVID-19.   Death data is a lagging indicator as it can take weeks to months for some patients to die from the illness.  

I don't know what the future holds for this deadly disease.  But, I do know I can help my neighbor by masking up, getting a booster shot when recommended and minimizing contact with others until we reach herd immunity.  I pray that is soon.

Update 9-1-21:  The city reported seven more COVID deaths today.   There are 178 new positive tests and 80 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19.

Update 9-11-21:  City and community leaders finally spoke out asking citizens to do their part to minimize the spread and impact of SARS COV-2 and COVID-19.  This came after 59 deaths announced over the last thirty days.  

Update 9-17-21:  Five days after releasing a video on the seriousness of San Angelo's COVID situation ASU President Hawkins announced a "return to 100% face-to-face classes for our on-campus students beginning Monday, Sept. 20, 2021."  He recommends everyone wear a mask on ASU's campus and getting vaccinated for those physically able.

Friday, August 27, 2021

COVID-19 Returns to Tom Green County

The purpose of COVID-19 mitigation methods is to reduce the spread of SARS COV-2 virus so that local hospitals are not overwhelmed to the point they cannot provide care to people with other health conditions.

I thought West Texans pulled together in times of crisis, that neighbors helped neighbors.  As far as I can tell, actions against adopting basic public measures are making things worse.  That's what the data shows.  Daily positive cases are up again, as are hospitalizations:


Shannon Medical Center administrators and physicians have informed the public that they are nearing a breaking point.  This should be of concern to all residents.  

In their latest video Shannon doctors explain how the current Delta variant of COVID is far different than the prior versions.  It impacts younger people, is more transmissible and rapidly results in a higher viral load within those sickened. 


Our local healthcare providers have encouraged people to get vaccinated and to wear masks when indoors with other people.  Local Health Authority Dr. James Vretis has a front row seat in Shannon's ER to COVID-19's Delta variant. 

Reactions to his recent mask order reveal how many disregard basic public health measures.  The idea of prevention, while never strong, has nearly completely disappeared.  Shannon physicians shop in local stores, where most people are not wearing masks.  They send their kids to schools where a child wearing a mask is in a distinct minority, often the subject of derision from fellow students. 

Governor Greg Abbott, Tom Green County Judge Steve Floyd and school system leaders rolled the same dice as former President Donald Trump.  They are counting on the Delta variant to fly through our population hoping that herd immunity lies on the other side.  Their gamble puts at-risk citizens and healthcare providers in a precarious position.  

COVID-19 deaths ceased for over a month earlier this year.  We've had over 30 deaths since early August.  That's over one a day.  The situation has deteriorated and many citizens are acting like the virus is gone.

Dr. Vretiz swung against the Governor's mandate and struck out.  I give him credit for trying to act on his medical and public health knowledge.  It's simply unwanted by the majority of our community, who may pay a terrible price.

Update 8-28-21:  The city announced six confirmed COVID deaths.  Not included in the six deaths are the death of an 88 year old vaccinated friend and the passing of a 30 year old father of four who fought against local mask mandates.  May they rest in peace.

Update 8-30-21:  The city reported ten COVID deaths over the last three days.  Two of those deaths were in their 30's.

Update 9-2-21:  Concho Valley Homepage reported:

San Angelo is the city in Texas with the fastest growth of new coronavirus cases, according to a report by 247wallst.com.

The report claims the number of new positive cases of COVID-19 for week ending on August 30 in San Angelo is more than twice the average for the state of Texas.

Update 9-11-21:  City and community leaders finally spoke out asking citizens to do their part to minimize the spread and impact of SARS COV-2 and COVID-19.  This came after 59 deaths announced over the last thirty days.

Update 9-17-21:  Five days after releasing a video on the seriousness of San Angelo's COVID situation ASU President Hawkins announced a "return to 100% face-to-face classes for our on-campus students beginning Monday, Sept. 20, 2021."  He recommends everyone wear a mask on ASU's campus and getting vaccinated for those physically able.