Thursday, January 27, 2022

One Item on Regular City Council Agenda: Abortion


For years San Angelo has had no abortion providers.  Yet, over one thousand, five hundred people signed a petition to "outlaw abortion/declare San Angelo a sanctuary city for the unborn."  It is the only item on City Council's Regular Agenda for February 1st.  

What has been killing people in our community? The city reported the 499th COVID death since the pandemic began. 

A medically fragile friend and devout Christian recently died of COVID-19.  Had she not been exposed to COVID she would still here, sharing God's love with her family and others. 

A photo from the October 5, 2021 Council meeting showed dozens of unmasked Sanctuary City supporters.  That was just after our largest monthly death toll since the pandemic began. Our community had 65 COVID deaths in September 2021.

I have elderly relatives and wish to keep them safe.  My petition has more people in our community sharing this concern.  I will watch the video of the meeting and become informed as to how far people are willing to go to protect life.  

Update 1-28-22:  COVID deaths reached 501 today.   

Update 1-31-22:  Deaths stand at 504 with 80 patients currently hospitalized.

Update 2-1-22:  It was a maskless crowd at City Council today.   These people do not care about my elderly relatives and medically fragile friends, all Christians.  The Health Department announced two more deaths today bringing the total to 506.  Shannon has 82 people hospitalized with COVID.

Update 2-2-22:  The city announced today that three more people died of COVID-19 bringing the total to 509.  There are 76 currently hospitalized with COVID.

Update 2-3-22:  Four more residents of Tom Green County died of COVID.  To date 513 people died of COVID in our area since the pandemic began.  

Update 2-9-21:  Deaths reached 521 yesterday.

Update 2-11-22:  Five deaths announced today bring the total to 527.  Thirty four are hospitalized with COVID.  

Update 2-15-22:  Mayor Brenda Gunter spoke directly to the criticism leveled at her and Council around this issue.  The City announced thirty COVID deaths in February thus far. 

Friday, January 21, 2022

Tom Green County Hits 3.000 COVID Hospitalizations


The City of San Angelo Health Department Friday report showed over 3,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations since the pandemic began.  COVID deaths to date are 492 people.

Becker's Hospital CFO Report showed hospital charges for COVID cases by state.  Texas is the fourth highest state in the U.S., averaging over $378,000 per complex COVID case.

Assuming all local COVID deaths resulted from complex cases. 492 times $378,052 totals $186 million.

Noncomplex cases in Texas averaged $63,647 per hospitalization.  Our local 3,007 hospitalizations less the 492 deaths equals 2,515 noncomplex cases.  2,515 times $63,647 equals $160 million.  

Complex and noncomplex cases combined for Tom Green County is a projected $346 million.   The number may be lower if Shannon's charges are below the state average, however it is likely in the hundreds of millions.

Our community's cavalier approach to COVID-19 has had a real cost.  How much death and hospitalization expenses could have been prevented?  

The Friday COVID report showed 77 patients in the hospital with 13 in the ICU.  Some residents may be done with COVID but the heartache and cost remains.  

Update 1-25-22:  The city reported 4 COVID deaths today and 88 patients in the hospital.  Yesterday, the city stated 68 patients were in the hospital for COVID-19.  That's a jump of twenty patients in one day.  It can be seen in the hospitalization graph.

Update 1-26-22:  Hospitalizations reached 95 today. An unvaccinated Irion County man in his 40's died from COVID.  COVID deaths total 498.

Update 1-31-22:  Deaths stand at 504 with 80 patients currently hospitalized.

Update 2-2-22:  Deaths reached 509 today with 76 in the hospital.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Shannon COVID Hospitalizations Rise 63% in One Week

COVID positive hospital patients at Shannon Medical Center rose by 19 between January 11th and January 18th.  The number went from 41 to 67 patients, a 63% rise.  

Mayor Brenda Gunter spoke with KLST on the 14th and said Shannon CEO Shane Plymell noted most patients were admitted for another reason but tested positive for COVID-19.  However, he expressed concern to the Mayor about staffing levels and Shannon's ability to care for a surge in admissions.  

City Council met yesterday and only Council member Tommy Hiebert wore a mask.  The talk was about cybersecurity:

The goal is for our city to be safe from the threats posed from the world of technology … the problem is that many don’t know have the tools to protect themselves against those threats. We’re going to change that.

COVID was not on the printed agenda.  Our community has tools to protect ourselves from COVID and they are ignored on a widespread basis.  There were two COVID deaths yesterday and two more announced today.

Update:  Hospitalizations rose to 74 in today's COVID update from the City.  That's a 10% rise in one day.  I pray Shannon is not overwhelmed by our city's casual approach to Omicron.  If people don't care enough to protect their neighbors from real viruses, why should they care about technological ones? 

Update 1-21-22:  Hospitalizations reached 77 in today's COVID report.  The positivity rate remains dangerously high at 50.2%.  There have been over 3,000 hospitalizations and 492 deaths since the pandemic began. 

Texas COVID case hospitalization
Complex: $378,052 -- (4th highest in the U.S.)
Noncomplex: $63,647

 That's a significant cost to our community.  

Update 1-26-22:  After dropping to 68 on Monday, hospitalizations rose to 88 yesterday and 95 today.  There is no information from Shannon or the City Health Department regarding this rapid rise.  Hospitalizations have roughly doubled from the 48 when Mayor Gunter made her observations to KLST.

Update 1-28-22:  Hospitalization stand at 84 today with 14 of those in the ICU.  COVID deaths reached 501.  There have been 14 deaths reported in the last eleven days.  The test positivity rate was 44.5% for the week.  All of these statistics indicate people should be taking action to protect the medically vulnerable neighbor by wearing masks, getting vaccinated and practicing social distancing.  

Update 1-31-22:  Deaths stand at 504 with 80 patients currently hospitalized.

Update 2-2-22:  Deaths reached 509 today with 76 people hospitalized.

Monday, January 17, 2022

City's Odd Mix of Veterinary Service Contracts


The City of San Angelo has various veterinary service agreements for the Animal Shelter.  One is with veterinarian Dr. Victor Schultze.  It has been in place since April 2018.  That contract states:

A.  City currently contracts with Concho Valley Paws to provide adoption services and limited professional veterinary services, including spaying, neutering and administration of rabies vaccinations for adoptable animals under the care and supervision of the San Angelo Animal Shelter (“Shelter”), located at 3142 Highway 67 North, San Angelo, Texas.

B.  City requires additional veterinary services that includes the following: i) provide veterinary license permissions allowing the Shelter to purchase necessary vaccines, medications and related supplies; ii) conduct monthly routine Shelter inspections to insure compliance with all state and federally mandated requirements related to operation of the Shelter; and iii) assist City in proceedings before regulatory agencies or courts that relate to Provider’s services rendered under this Agreement (“Services”).

City Council received the following from staff to enter into a veterinary services agreement with Concho Valley PAWS (paragraph A above). 

Due to the City's need of veterinary services to spay, neuter and rabies vaccinate adoptable pets, we desire a contract with Concho Valley PAWS to facilitate these services. Before you today is such an agreement which will expedite the delivery of spay/neuter procedures as well as rabies vaccinations. 

We currently contract with PAWS to provide adoption services which includes coordinating off-site rabies vaccinations, spaying and neutering of adoptable animals. Such services are coordinated based on availability of local veterinarians at varying rates for those services.

Concho Valley PAWS recently contracted with one or more veterinarians to render these services on-site at the animal shelter at a consistent rate. PAWS will provide a veterinarian licensed by the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners on-site at the shelter as needed to provide services to include 1-2 weekly visits as well as Saturdays for surgeries.

Concho Valley PAWS limited veterinary services fell apart by Fall 2018.   

The city cemented its marriage with PAWS in May 2018 with a $1 a year lease for land next to the Animal Shelter.  It donated veterinary surgical equipment to PAWS for its new building, which houses a surgical suite for spay/neuter surgeries.  PAWS building ran into problems due to missing permits and inspection issues.  It eventually opened in June 2020. 

Sometime after Fall 2018 PAWS contracted to provide emergency medical services for shelter animals.  City Council's background packet stated in August 2020:

Other services such as large scale transports, foster programs and emergency medical support will continue unchanged from prior contracts.

PAWS Executive Director Jenie Wilson committed to employ a veterinarian in their February 2020 RFP submission. 

Concho Valley PAWS is currently seeking to employ a licensed Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. 

There is no mention of any prior PAWS veterinary services provided to shelter animals, emergency or otherwise.  One might expect to see statistics on services provided and value received by the city.  Not there, however it did say:

Adoption fees flow through the city's account to pay for spay/neuter services.
Weren't those the services PAWS agreed to provide nearly four years ago?  

The city's account for spay/neuter services is not apparent in prior and current budgets for Animal Services.  

City Council approved donating the city's veterinary surgical equipment to PAWS in December 2019, even though a local rescue offered to purchase the equipment from the city.  How many spay/neuter surgeries has PAWS done with that equipment since their new building opened?

The public knows that equipment was not used on nearly 50 community cats the city dumped unaltered into city neighborhoods.

The city dumped 48 cats, 47 of which were unaltered into San Angelo neighborhoods from October 2020 to March 2021.  It did so because it had no funding for a Top Four Pets Alive strategy.  The 48 cats spent an average of 12 days in the shelter prior to release.  A robust community cat program would have no overnight stays in the shelter and would never dump intact cats onto city streets.

City Council had little turnover from 2018 to today.  They are a giving and forgiving bunch given the ever changing promises of spay/neuter service and subsequent failures to deliver.  

Update 1-20-22:   The City of San Angelo has no documents indicating the "names of veterinarian(s) providing medical care to shelter animals via the City's contract with Concho Valley PAWS.”  One might expect the city to credential any medical providers, have a copy of their veterinary license.

Update 1-26-22:  As the City lacks the most basic information on their arrangement with PAWS I contacted Concho Valley PAWS for the names of their contracted vets that go into the shelter in emergency situations.

Update 2-11-22:  Concho Valley PAWS indicated Dr. Victor Schultz is their staff veterinarian.  His role is to help "prepare animals for adoption by providing spay and neuter services, heartworm tests and treatment, vaccinations services and treatment of common shelter illness such as kennel cough, parvo, URI, UTI, etc.  PAWS also outsources to several area veterinarians such as San Angelo Veterinary Clinic, Western Veterinary Clinic, Southside Veterinary Clinic, Green Meadow Veterinary Clinic for treatment of emergencies or complex issues such as broken bones, enucleations, and amputations.  PAWS also utilizes out of area specialist when needed such as Blue Pearl in San Antonio."

Thursday, January 13, 2022

KLST Revisits Toxic Chemicals in City Water


KLST's
"Our Water" segment revisited toxic chemicals entering the City of San Angelo's water supply.  The piece is titled "One year after the San Angelo water crisis."  It's actually been eleven months.  Reporter Kayla Brown interviewed Water Chief Allison Strube and the head of water treatment Tymn Combest.  

Not mentioned was the report done by Texas Commission for Environmental Quality which hammered the city for not meeting basic water operations standards.  The city basically did not have the required cross connection control program.

One might expect a news source to reference the TCEQ report on citizens receiving toxic chemical tainted water.  The TCEQ report is important as the city does not do internal investigations.

After not having the required program for many years City Council ignored recommendations on the number of inspectors needed to create and operate a functional cross connection program.  Council approved three positions of the recommended five.  

"They are going to do nothing but city inspections on customer service inspections. That means, those individuals will be making sure that backflow devices are installed at the proper location, that those devices are being tested annually, and that we have eyes on these facilities all across town so we are better protected and learning from our lessons from last February.”

TCEQ can fine the city if it is recalcitrant in fixing the identified problems, which should not have existed in the first place.  Citizens learned our water could be made toxic with no warning. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Animal Shelter Dog Poisoning: No Changes, No Charges


The City of San Angelo provided scant information on their investigation into the poisoning of dogs in the city's Animal Shelter around Saturday, November 13, 2021.  Shelter leadership sought assistance from San Angelo Police Department on November 19th.  They informed the public on December 1st.

I spoke with the Detective investigating the widespread dog poisoning at the City of San Angelo Animal Shelter yesterday.  They said that no one has been charged to date for multiple acts of animal cruelty.  They were unable to share any additional information as it is an active investigation.

I shared my interest in the city's exploration as to how someone got access to shelter animals to poison them and how the city might make changes to prevent such an occurrence from happening again.  I asked for documents the city could send in that regard.

The City of San Angelo has reviewed its files and has determined there are no responsive documents to your request for operational assessments.

So the city made no changes in Animal Services operations as a result of the poisoning?  The city is yet to respond to this lingering question.. No answers.  No changes.  No charges, 

Update 1-19-22:  The City did respond to the question on changes made after someone poisoned shelter dogs, killing three.

No document was created when improving the security and safety of the animals
So the city did no staff/volunteer training when improving the security and safety of the animals after the deadly event?  If so, it used no agendas or documents (policies/procedures/presentation materials/sign-in sheets)?

The city said it conducted no investigation into the poisonings.  So how did the city improve animal safety and security at the shelter and while creating no documents in the process?  Storytelling.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

COVID Widespread in San Angelo

 

The City of San Angelo Health Department asked the public to help reduce the spread of COVID and other respiratory diseases.  

Help slow the spread of omicron (COVID-19), flu, strep, RSV and other illnesses by doing the following:

  • Get vaccinated if possible. Vaccinations are available for COVID-19 and for flu for certain ages. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about vaccinations. Visit vaccines.gov for vaccination sites in our area.
  • Stay home if you are sick or contact a doctor if you need medical attention.
  • Wear a well-fitted mask around others.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes when masks are not available.
  • Avoid large crowds or gatherings.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Stay 6 feet away from others 

Today the Health Department revealed 920 new positive tests, an increase in hospitalizations and an additional COVID death.  Cases have been rising with warnings of exponential spread. 


One might expect City Council members and staff to be considerate of Councilman Tommy Hiebert.  That clearly was not the case at the January 4th Council meeting.

SutterHealth reported one sick person can spread the virus to seven others.  Today's 920 could turn into 6,440 infected persons.  6,440 could become 45,080.  On the next multiplication one hits the limits of our local population.  

In the midst of a prior COVID surge Health Services Director Sandra Villareal said to a video-grapher, "it is kind of hard when you can't really follow your pandemic plans."  

There is a very small public health presence and following in our community.

Update 1-12-22:  Area school systems are closed due to the rise in COVID cases and resulting staff shortages.  Water Valley schools will be closed Friday, Jan. 14th,   Schleicher County schools are closed today through Friday as are Reagan County schools.  The City announced 833 new positives for COVID today.  

San Angelo schools for grades 9-12 will be closed Friday Jan. 14th.  Brady schools are closed the rest of this week as are Crockett County schools.  TLCA will release early on Thursday and be closed Friday.  

Update 1-13-22:  There are 889 new positives today, 45 people in the hospital with COVID and 1 new death.  It's flying through our local population.  Lord, keep us healthy and safe.

Update 1-14-22:  Counties seeing the highest case rates over the last seven days include Loving, Jim Hogg, and Tom Green.  Positive cases are 755 for today with 48 people hospitalized with COVID.  A record 52% of tests were positive this past week.

Saturday, January 01, 2022

City Has Over a Year's Worth of Water Sales on Hand


In April 2018 City Council eliminated the twice a year requirement for a water rebate discussion requirement.  The rebate historically returned money to water users if the City had a significant enough fund balance.  City Manager Daniel Valenzuela informed Council the fund balance needed to be over 75 days of water revenue to consider a citizen rebate.  Accounting tricks did the rest in December 2017 to deny citizens a portion of excess fees paid.

As of September 2021 the City has 375 days of water revenue in fund balance.  That's nearly $31.4 million according to the City's Bluebook accounting document.  

Update 1-4-22:  The City provides $50,000 a year for low income water users who qualify.  That's one tenth of one percent of the city's annual water sales.