5 things for Houstonians to know Thursday, August 19

Houston doctor says hospitals are completely full as COVID cases increase

Here are things to know for Thursday, August 19:

1. ‘It feels like a war zone’: Houston doctor says hospitals are completely full as COVID cases increase

As medical professionals continue dealing with a surge in COVID-19 patients, the impact is certainly being felt across Houston-area hospitals.

“Right now, the hospitals are completely full,” said Dr. George Williams, an ICU physician with UTHealth Houston and LBJ Hospital.

Due to the number of COVID-19 patients coming in, Williams said ICU bed space at LBJ and Ben Taub hospitals, like many other hospitals, has become scarce.

“It’s a war zone in terms of how packed it is. It also feels like a war zone, in terms of how sick the patients are,” he said.

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2. Houston-area schools reporting thousands of active COVID-19 cases as school year begins

Houston-area schools have reported more than 3,000 active COVID-19 cases in the first days of class. Most of the results were from two school districts.

Conroe ISD reported nearly 800 active cases between students and staff by Wednesday afternoon. While Fort Bend ISD reported 646.

Both caseloads are a tiny fraction of the student and staff population at both districts. The numbers are also growing fast.

“A variety of contingency plans have been discussed should a campus need to close due to staff abscesses,” Conroe ISD said in a statement. “We are working to avoid that scenario if at all possible.”

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3. Gov. Greg Abbott, TEA Commissioner facing first federal lawsuit over ban on school mask mandates

As Texas students return to school, COVID-19 cases are again surging, threatening to overwhelm hospitals. Public health experts are sounding the alarm over the delta variant of the virus. And, without any state funds for remote learning this year, school districts are rushing to figure out how best to protect their students while grappling with Gov. Greg Abbott’s prohibition against mask mandates in schools. In disregard of the governor’s ban, some school districts in the past week enacted mask mandates, prompting a flurry of back-and-forth legal rulings.

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4. Regeneron antibody therapy available to COVID-19 patients with certain risk factors

After Gov. Greg Abbott’s announced Tuesday that he tested positive for COVID-19, his communications director says he is receiving the Regeneron antibody infusion therapy.

Governor Abbott said he was not feeling any symptoms, which sparked some questions as to who is able to get the monoclonal antibody treatment.

“If he’s asymptomatic, why is he getting monoclonal antibodies? There’s pieces missing here -- it’s hard to speculate,” said Dr. Peter Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine on MSNBC.

Dr. Shawn Nishi said without knowing the governor’s full medical history, she couldn’t comment either. But she said some people who show no symptoms are eligible to get the antibody treatment.

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5. Prosecutor allegedly fired for ‘conduct, judgment’ fires back at Harris County DA Kim Ogg

Less than 24-hours after being fired by Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg over his “conduct” and “judgment” in a Harding Street murder case, Colby Leslie is firing back.

“I was fired because I was openly critical of how Jules Johnson, the civil rights division head, and Kim Ogg were mishandling the Gallegos case,” Leslie said.

The prosecutor sent KPRC 2 Investigates a lengthy statement Tuesday afternoon that countered the image painted by Ogg in a press release.

Claims of Leslie’s actions and his abrupt departure are cited as the reason that her office dismissed a murder charge against HPD Officer Felipe Gallegos.

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