5 things for Houstonians to know for Thursday, July 22

Fourth wave of COVID-19 is here

Here are things to know for Thursday, July 22:

1. At least 1 dead after fiery crash on Highway 225 near Beltway 8 in Pasadena, officials say

Drivers have been asked to avoid Highway 225 near Beltway 8 after two cars were found engulfed in flames in Pasadena. Investigators said as of now, they know one person has died.

Firefighters said they were called to the scene around 5:20 a.m. Thursday.

According to Houston Transtar, the fires were the result of a crash. The westbound lanes are currently blocked while officials investigate.

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2. Harris County civil court judge resigns after several allegations of misconduct, officials say

A Harris County civil court judge has resigned from his position following several allegations of misconduct, the office of court management said Wednesday.

According to the resignation agreement, George Barnstone was named in six complaints with at least seven allegations of misconduct, including showing bias or prejudice toward litigants and attorneys on the basis of race, sex or socioeconomic status.

The agreement also stated that Barnstone failed to treat attorneys appearing in his court with patience, dignity and courtesy, as well as, failing to require and maintain order and decorum during his proceedings.

Barnstone signed the resignation agreement on July 12, and his decision was approved on Monday.

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3. Rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations a ‘nightmare,’ United Memorial Medical Center doctor says

COVID-19 patients are flooding hospitals and most of them are unvaccinated and younger, according to doctors.

“The last couple of weeks have been pretty much a nightmare,” said Dr. Joseph Varon of United Memorial Medical Center.

COVID-19 cases have increased 66% nationwide and in the Houston area, which is fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant, accounting for most new cases.

“The reason it’s so formidable, is the fact that it has the capability of transmitting efficiently from human to human in an extraordinary manner,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci with the White House COVID Task Force.

Varon said hospitalizations are up 500% at his hospital over the past two weeks.

He said all of those patients are unvaccinated and under 50 years old.

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4. ‘Nobody’s coming to get them’: Health officials say vaccines are going to waste as COVID hospitalizations continue to rise

It’s been two weeks since July 4, and typically with COVID, two to three weeks after people gather for celebrations marks the time that the virus increases, and it’s proving to be true again.

As we see a rise in COVID across the country, doctors say the increased social activities, partnered with decreased health precautions, are to blame.

There has also been less testing recently which makes it difficult for anyone to know exactly how much of the virus is floating around. President and CEO of the Texas Medical Center, Bill Mckeon, said Tuesday in a press briefing that TMC went from 4,000 tests per week to 1,000.

Hospitalizations statewide are at 3,566, which is up higher than they were in March when vaccines were first eligible for the entire population. However, most of the current hospitalizations are among the unvaccinated.

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5. Texas Supreme Court may decide next plot twist in the Democratic walkout, and the fate of 2,100 state employees

The Texas legislature is immobilized. The governor is fuming. And the next chapter in the gamesmanship that has engulfed Republican efforts to rewrite Texas voting laws may fall to the state’s third branch of government: the judiciary.

The Texas Supreme Court has been asked to rule whether Gov. Greg Abbott’s unprecedented line-item veto of Article X in the state budget — which pays for the Legislature and its staff — is constitutional.

Abbott issued the veto after the regular legislative session ended, pulling one of the few political levers at his disposal to try to force Democratic lawmakers to show up for a special session if they want their staffs to keep getting paid when the next fiscal year starts Sept. 1.

It didn’t work. Enough House Democrats left the state to deprive the chamber of the quorum needed to conduct business.

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