5 things for Houstonians to know for Tuesday, March 9

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Here are thing to know for Tuesday, March 9:

1. Spring-break partying falls victim to COVID-19 crisis

Goodbye, sunshine. Hello, study sessions.

Colleges around the U.S. are scaling back spring break or canceling it entirely to discourage partying that could spread the virus and raise infection rates back on campus.

Texas A&M University opted for a three-day weekend instead of a whole week off. The University of Alabama and the University of Wisconsin-Madison also did away with spring break but are giving students a day off later in the semester.

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2. Stronger Houston: The COVID-19 crisis and it’s impact on Houston’s transgender community

Whether it’s finding help, employment, adequate housing, health or mental care, the pandemic has only exacerbated the challenges and inequities the transgender community had to face before COVID-19.

“The trans community is one of the most overlooked communities in times of disaster,” said Austin Ruiz, communications and marketing manger at The Montrose Center.

When COVID-19 hit, The Montrose Center, which serves Houston’s LGBT community, saw a sharp increase in requests for help among Houston’s trans community.

“For a trans community member, during the pandemic, it’s incredibly difficult to find places where they can get treatment, whether that’s for COVID-19 or otherwise,” Ruiz said.

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3. Texans don’t have to prove they’re eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, and some are jumping the line. Here’s why.

Tensions over so-called “line jumpers” are high as Texas scrambles to vaccinate the majority of its 29 million residents, reduce deaths and hospitalizations, and stem the spread of the virus among highly vulnerable communities of color.

Current state guidelines require recipients to be 65 or older, a front line health care worker, employed as a teacher or child care worker or medically vulnerable and older than 15. About 4.3 million people in Texas — or roughly 14% of the state’s population — have gotten at least one dose. Between 10 and 13 million people are eligible for the vaccine under Texas guidelines, said Lara Anton, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

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4. Magnolia ISD will lift mask mandate on April 1

Three Houston area school boards – in Friendswood, Magnolia and Tarkington – planned to vote Monday night on whether or not to remove their mask mandates.

New state guidelines require all students, teachers, staff and visitors to wear masks on school property, unless school boards vote otherwise.

In Magnolia, the board of trustees voted to remove the mask mandate, effective April 1.

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5. Tesla is plugging a mega-battery into the Texas grid by summer, report says

Tesla is installing a gigantic battery that is said to help bring more power to Texas’ electrical grid, according to a report.

The construction was kept undercover, but Brazoria County public documents confirmed the company’s role in the installation, according to Bloomberg.

A subsidiary was registered as Gambit Energy, LLC and is said to bring more than 100 megawatts of energy in Angelton, which is measured to power at least 20,000 homes during the summer months. Property records share the same address as Tesla’s California auto plant.

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