5 things for Houstonians to know for Tuesday, Oct. 20

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference where he provided an update to Texas' response to COVID-19, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference where he provided an update to Texas' response to COVID-19, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Here are things to know for Tuesday, Oct. 20:

1. World struggles as confirmed COVID-19 cases pass 40 million

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the planet has surpassed 40 million, but experts say that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the true impact of the pandemic that has upended life and work around the world.

The milestone was hit Monday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University, which collates reports from around the world.

The actual worldwide tally of COVID-19 cases is likely to be far higher, as testing has been uneven or limited, many people have had no symptoms and some governments have concealed the true number of cases.

Read more.

2. Gov. Greg Abbott spends millions to help down-ballot Republicans in Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott’s campaign is ratcheting up its down-ballot efforts in the final weeks before the November election, working to defend the Republican majority in the state House and to remind voters about the importance of electing the party’s judges farther down the ballot.

In what his campaign described as a “mid-seven-figure” total expenditure, it is putting its weight behind two dozen House races and running statewide TV and radio commercials about judges. The news of the effort, detailed to The Texas Tribune, comes as early voting is underway and both sides have already invested millions of dollars in the House fight.

Read more.

3. The census doesn’t count Arab Americans. That leaves some Texans feeling invisible.

The U.S. census count ended abruptly last week after several deadline changes amid a legal fight with President Donald Trump’s administration. But the length of time people had to respond makes little difference to Arab Texans, who say they will once again be dramatically undercounted and suffer another 10 years of underrepresentation.

That’s because they’re told to identify as white on the all-important national count.

The census does not include an option for people to identify as Middle Eastern or North African Americans. Advocates say that subjects Arab Americans to a lack of political representation.

Read more.

4. Bellaire High School closes campus Tuesday after positive COVID-19 case

Bellaire High School will close its campus Tuesday following a positive COVID-19 case Monday, according to school officials.

The school has not identified the person who tested positive or any details but said they are self-isolating at home. All students will switch to virtual learning during Tuesday’s closure.

School officials said Houston Independent School District’s Health and Medical Services department has begun a case investigation. The school has contacted all individuals who were in close contact with the person with COVID-19 while on campus and has been asked to quarantine for 14 days, officials said.

Read more.

5. Warning for parents about children overdosing in ‘Benadryl challenge’

Some teens and children are intentionally overdosing on the antihistamine, Benadryl, as part of a “challenge” on Tik Tok.

It encourages viewers to take excessive doses of Benadryl to induce hallucinations.

While the social media platform has pledged to remove videos publicizing it, local doctors and the Food and Drug Administration are warning parents about ways to recognize if your child is doing this.

Read more.

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