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5 things for Houstonians to know for Thursday, Dec. 24

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo (left) and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (right) speak during a news conference at Houston Transtar on Dec. 23, 2020.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo (left) and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (right) speak during a news conference at Houston Transtar on Dec. 23, 2020. (KPRC)

Here are things to know for Thursday, Dec. 24:

Judge Hidalgo, Mayor Turner ask residents to cancel holiday gatherings as hospitalizations, positivity rate climbs

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner urged residents Wednesday to cancel holiday gatherings as hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases continue to increase in the Houston area.

Hidalgo said the county has faced a number of challenges over the past year during the coronavirus pandemic. She said ICU numbers have not stopped creeping up and the Texas Medical Center is routinely crossing its base compacity.

“The current situation where our Medical Center, the largest in the world, is routinely crossing its base capacity, means that procedures are postponed, that health care workers are at risk of burnout, that we can’t sustain a surge in infections, beyond where we are right now, and that we’re living at the very, very edge,” Hidalgo said.

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Beyoncé foundation to donate $500K to families facing eviction amid COVID-19

Beyoncé, through her nonprofit BeyGOOD, continues to provide ways to help those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Phase 2 of the BeyGOOD Impact Fund, it will provide $50,000 for those impacted by the housing crisis, BeyGOOD announced on its website.

“The housing moratorium is set to end on December 26th, resulting in mortgage foreclosures and rental evictions,” the nonprofit wrote in a press release. “Many families are impacted, due to the pandemic that resulted in job loss, sickness and overall economy downturn.”

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Rockets star James Harden fined $50K for violating NBA’s COVID-19 protocol

James Harden was fined $50,000 Wednesday night for violating a COVID-19 protocol, according to the National Basketball Association.

On Wednesday morning, ESPN first reported the NBA was investigating social media videos that place Harden at a party Monday night in Houston, where Harden was pictured maskless.

Among other NBA protocols, the health and safety guidelines prohibit players from attending indoor social gatherings of 15 or more people or entering bars, lounges, clubs or similar establishments.

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Houston-area nonprofit hospital receives first shipment of vaccine

Healthcare workers in Fort Bend County are among the first to get vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine.

The Oak Bend Medical Center in Richmond received its first shipment of the vaccine on Wednesday. The hospital received 1,000 doses and 50 workers on the frontlines got their first shot.

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HFD faces severe staffing shortage headed into Christmas holiday

Already facing a severe staffing shortage, the Houston Fire Department is expected to hit a new low mark on Christmas Day.

The staffing issue, largely attributed to firefighters leaving for other jobs, has already produced expensive overtime costs and millions of dollars of life-saving equipment left parked in firehouses.

KPRC 2 Investigates has viewed documentation that shows Christmas Eve will start with 152 fewer firefighters than the national minimal staffing standards. While on Christmas Day the number is expected to rise to 224 firefighters.

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