Here are things to know for Friday, Dec. 18:
1. Former HPD captain arrested in bizarre conspiracy case unable to be arraigned due to COVID-19
Since Tuesday, there have been nationwide headlines involving former HPD Captain Mark Aguirre. The 63-year-old is accused of ramming David Zuniga, an air conditioning repairman, off the road and holding him at gunpoint.
Law enforcement says Aguirre was convinced he was hauling 750,000 illegal ballots.
“This may not be Watergate rewritten. But it is certainly something that has captured the public’s imagination,” said Brian Wice, KPRC 2 Legal Analyst.
2. Houston awards $5 million to the creative community
Houston is providing $5 million to artists, cultural organizations, music venues and musicians for COVID-19 relief.
The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, in collaboration with the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) and the Mid-America Arts Alliance (MAAA), distributed federal CARES funds to 691 recipients. The total includes 226 artists, 308 musicians, 36 music venues and 121 arts and cultural organizations.
The relief grants were offered twice in 2020 -- in August and November. All funds have been distributed.
3. Moderna vaccine is life-line to rural Texas healthcare providers
Officials with the Texas Department of State Health Services anticipate receiving 460,000 vials of the Moderna vaccine next week and plan to use this vaccine to cover rural areas and smaller healthcare providers.
“They are absolutely at the end of their rope in most regions of Texas,” said John Henderson, president and CEO of the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals. “Most of rural Texas is at capacity and can’t expand, and it’s not as much about space as it is staff and equipment. They just don’t have that capacity.”
Henderson agrees the Moderna vaccine is a perfect fit for rural Texas. This vaccine doesn’t have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures like the Pfizer vaccine. The Moderna vaccine can survive in refrigerated settings for up to 30 days. Plus, the Moderna vaccine can be shipped in smaller quantities.
4. ‘I feel normal. No side effects at all.’ Local lab technician shares experience taking Pfizer vaccine
Texas received more than 225,000 vials of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
As of Thursday, more than 10,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been distributed in the Houston area. Quoc Nguyen, a lab technician at Houston Methodist, was one of the healthcare workers who received the vaccine.
Nguyen said he relieved to receive the vaccine. He said his experience taking the vaccine was just like taking a flu shot.
5. All UH basketball players, some coaches have had COVID-19, team confirms
The Houston Cougars have missed multiple games this season due to COVID-19. According to head coach Kelvin Sampson, all 15 players and some coaches have tested positive for COVID-19 at some point.
“Most of them have already tested positive and gone through isolation,” said Sampson. “They’ve passed all the tests and have had consecutive negative tests after that.”