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5 things for Houstonians to know for Thursday, Nov. 19

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Here are things to know for Thursday, Nov. 19:

1. Coronavirus cases in Texas are soaring again. But this time Gov. Greg Abbott says no lockdown is coming.

This week, more than 7,400 Texans are hospitalized for COVID-19, and the positivity rate has exceeded 10% for over three weeks.

But the governor’s strategy as the state heads into the holidays is to stay the course, relying on a 2-month-old blueprint to claw back reopenings regionally based on hospitalizations. The mask order remains in place, but last week he ruled out “any more lockdowns,” and tensions are again rising with local officials who want more authority to impose safety restrictions.

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2. Texas Medical Center doctors warn of alarming increase in COVID-19 cases

Top doctors with the Texas Medical Center said there’s an alarming increase of COVID-19 cases in the Houston-area in the last few weeks.

“We’re seeing significant growth of this virus, significant number of more cases, and sadly hospitalizations of our sickest of patients,” said Bill McKeon, President and CEO of the Texas Medical Center.

McKeon said the medical center had 155 new hospitalizations for COVID-19 on Wednesday morning, which was a 43-percent increase from a month ago.

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3. Texas Medical Center top health leaders warn not to get lax with the COVID-19 during holidays

Top health leaders with the Texas Medical Center warn with the holidays approaching that it’s critical for people not to get lax with the Coronavirus.

Five TMC leaders had a discussion Wednesday over Zoom focused on alarming trends they said they’ve observed concerning COVID-19 positivity rates and hospitalizations.

“We’re now seeing routinely more than 100 people diagnosed with COVID every day at Houston Methodist, again numbers we had not seen since really the end of July beginning of August,” said Dr. Marc Boom, president and CEO of Houston Methodist Hospital.

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4. Flying Saucer Pie Company’s crazy Thanksgiving pie line will look different amid the pandemic. Here’s what to expect this year.

A quick primer for Houston newcomers: Flying Saucer Pie Company does not take call ahead pie or cake orders the week of Thanksgiving or Christmas. The shop doesn’t take reservations and it doesn’t deliver. All its pies are first come, first serve. Translation: There’s no way to weasel your way out of waiting in line.

However you look at it, whether as an endearing Houston holiday tradition or as dreaded yet unavoidable chore, braving the shop’s pre-Thanksgiving pie line is quite an undertaking. It requires preparation, planning and, of course, an abundance of patience. This year, amid the pandemic, the shop will implement several COVID-19 safety measures to ensure the safety of its patrons and staff. Here’s what to expect if you plan to brave the line.

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5. 68 members of the Texas House call for STAAR exams to be canceled this year

A bipartisan group of 68 Texas House representatives signed a letter calling on the Texas Education Agency to cancel the STAAR exam or at minimum not use student scores to rate schools or districts this year.

The letter, penned by Rep. Diego Bernal, D-San Antonio, asks that the state apply for waivers from the U.S. Department of Education to cancel the standarized test, which is administered to students in third through 12th grade.

Should the test still be administered during the coronavirus pandemic, it “should only serve as a diagnostic instrument to see where our students stand academically as opposed to an assessment instrument to determine district and campus sanctions,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

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