Here are things to know for Monday, March 22:
1. About 6,000 vaccine appointments remain after Houston Health Department opens slots over the weekend
The Houston Health Department opened 13,070 new COVID-19 vaccination appointment slots on Sunday for the week of March 22-27. As of Monday morning, about 6,000 slots remained opened.
The appointments are for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at Bayou City Event Center or the first doses of Moderna vaccine at Delmar Stadium and The Parking Spot. As of Monday morning, all of the Johnson & Johnson appointments had been filled.
People eligible for vaccination under the Texas Department of State Health Services criteria can visit HoustonEmergency.org/covid19 or the following direct links to self-register.
2. AstraZeneca says US trial data shows vaccine 79% effective
AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine provided strong protection against sickness and eliminated hospitalizations and deaths from the disease, including in older adults, in final-stage U.S. testing, the company announced Monday.
AstraZeneca said its experts did not identify any safety concerns related to the vaccine, including finding no increased risk of rare blood clots identified in Europe. The question now is whether the findings will help rebuild public confidence in the vaccine around the world, as the company seeks to win clearance in the United States
In a statement, AstraZeneca said its COVID-19 vaccine was 79% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and was 100% effective in stopping severe disease and hospitalization, though it has not yet published full data so it’s unclear if there were enough severe cases to make that finding significant. Investigators said the vaccine worked across adults of all ages, including older people — something experts wanted better data on.
3. Tony Buzbee to submit evidence to HPD, Harris Co. District Attorney in Texans’ Deshaun Watson case
On Saturday, attorney Tony Buzbee announced his team will be submitting affidavits and evidence from several women, who accused Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct, to the Houston Police Department and the Harris County District Attorney on Monday.
“We will request that a grand jury be empaneled to considered the evidence we provide,” Buzbee said in a Facebook post.
On Friday, four more lawsuits were filed Friday against Watson by Buzbee’s law firm on behalf of female massage professionals. Buzbee’s office said a total of seven lawsuits have been filed pertaining to Watson.
4. HCSO: Over 100 arrested in crackdown on illegal street racing
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office announced Sunday that over 100 people have been arrested for offenses related to illegal street racing during a multi agency crackdown.
Several vehicles have been towed and multiple weapons recovered.
The crackdown came as race enthusiasts converge in Baytown this week for TX2K21 Roll & Drag Race Nationals.
County officials and authorities in Harris County have seen an increase in street racing and last year created a traffic crimes unit to combat complaints over reckless driving.
5. Texas bar owner accused of fraudulently receiving funds $123,500 in COVID-19 aid
A Texas bar owner is accused of fraudulently receiving federal COVID-19 aid.
Keith Anton Johnson, 44, is charged with one count of wire fraud, according to the Department of Justice. The government said Johnson secured $123,500 in Payroll Protection Program (PPP) funds as part of the CARES Act.
According to the indictment, Johnson owned and operated KJR Entertainment Holdings LLC in conjunction with others from January 2020 through July 2020. KJR Entertainment also runs Southerns, a bar and live music venue in Bryan, Texas.
Johnson allegedly submitted payroll information justifying the basis of a PPP loan. On these forms, he allegedly claimed that an employee worked for him, but in fact, that employee had quit in January 2020, according to the charges.