5 things for Houstonians to know for Wednesday, July 28

CDC recommends masks indoors and in schools

Here are things to know for Wednesday, July 28:

1. Sugar Land woman charged with murder in connection with 1985 shaken baby case

Babysitter Terry McKirchy got a light sentence 36 years ago after pleading no contest to attempted murder for shaking 5-month-old Benjamin Dowling so severely that he suffered permanent brain damage — weekends in jail for three months and three years probation.

But now McKirchy is facing a possible life sentence after a Florida medical examiner says Dowling succumbed to those injuries when he died in 2019 at the age of 35 after a life with severe mental and physical disabilities.

A Broward County grand jury recently indicted McKirchy, 59, with first-degree murder and she is now jailed near her home in Sugar Land, Texas, pending her return to Florida. McKirchy, who has previously denied injuring the boy, has waived extradition, the Broward State Attorney’s Office said. The South Florida SunSentinel first reported the arrest.

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2. What is acetic acid? LyondellBasell says that’s the substance involved in a deadly incident at its La Porte facility

LyondellBasell says the primary substance that leaked causing two deaths and 30 hospitalizations at its facility in La Porte on Tuesday evening is acetic acid.

According to a safety data sheet on the company’s website, glacial acetic acid also goes by the names ethanoic acid, methanecarboxylic acid, and ethylic acid.

Acetic acid is a flammable liquid that can cause severe skin burns and serious eye damage if a person is exposed. It can also produce a hazardous vapor.

According to the National Institute of Health’s National Library of Medicine, glacial acetic acid is a clear liquid with a strong odor of vinegar. It is corrosive to metals and tissue and is used to make other chemicals, as a food additive, and in petroleum production.

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3. CDC changes course on indoor masks in some parts of the US

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed course Tuesday on some masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the delta variant of the coronavirus is fueling infection surges.

Citing new information about the variant’s ability to spread among vaccinated people, the CDC also recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors at schools nationwide, regardless of vaccination status.

In other developments, President Joe Biden said his administration was considering requiring all federal workers to get vaccinated. His comments came a day after the Department of Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to require its health care workers receive the vaccine.

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4. Harris County to provide $1,500 payments to 20,000 families in urgent need due to COVID-19

Harris County is seeking to help 20,000 families who need help staying afloat due to COVID-19.

The Harris County Recovery Assistance will provide one-time payments of $1,500 to families whose financial situation has not returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to a press release. The $30 million relief fund will accept applications from July 28 through Aug. 11.

Officials noted that the current ban on evictions is set to expire on July 31.

According to the release, families can apply to this fund without cooperation from a landlord since the money can be used for any type of urgent expense such as housing, groceries, utilities, healthcare, childcare, transportation, etc.

The program is funded through the American Rescue Plan Act and is administered by Catholic Charities, per the release.

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5. Simone Biles withdraws from individual all-around final at Tokyo Olympics

Four-time Olympic champion Simone Biles will not defend her individual all-around Olympic title in Tokyo.

“After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games, in order to focus on her mental health. Simone will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week’s individual event finals,” USA Gymnastics said in a statement. “We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.”

U.S. gymnast Jade Carey, competing as an individual in Tokyo, will now compete in the all-around after finishing ninth overall in qualifications.

Biles, 24, withdrew from the women’s team contest after the first rotation on vault Tuesday, citing her mental health and the adverse impact of the immense pressure she is facing to perform at these Games. Her decision drew an outpouring of support from athletes and celebrities from around the world, including from Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history, who’s emerged as a mental health advocate since retiring from swimming.

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