5 things for Houstonians to know for Wednesday, August 25

Central Texas Food Bank volunteers prepare to distribute free food to help people facing increasing food insecurity at the Travis County Expo Center in Austin on July 1, 2021.

Here are things to know for Wednesday, August 25:

1. Reward increased to $100K in killing of NOLA officer gunned down at Houston restaurant

The reward was increased to $100,000 in the fatal shooting of New Orleans Det. Everett Briscoe.

Houston authorities -- including Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston Police Department Chief Troy Finner -- announced the increase on Tuesday. Previously the reward was $10,000.

Businessman Tilman Fertitta announced the increased reward.

“I’ll raise the reward to $100,000 to support the Houston Police Department and all their efforts to find these criminals and to help solve this crime this weekend,” Fertitta said. And as an extra effort to do my part, I’m going to contribute $1 million to the police department when he needs to solve a crime. When he needs a tipster out there and he needs 25 or 50 or $100,000, I will give him the money to help take these violent criminals off the street.”

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2. Family demands answers after 6-year-old boy left on Aldine ISD school bus

A first-grader finished out his first week of the new school year alone and asleep on an Aldine ISD school bus last Friday.

According to the district, the boy was picked up from Kujawa Elementary school at 3:38 p.m. and remained on the bus until the driver completed the route and pulled into the West Side Bus Barn at 9900 Antoine Drive around 4:50 p.m.

The boy’s mother is an Aldine ISD bus driver, and the district provides a daycare center for employees at that location. But when the boy’s mother went to the onsite daycare, her son wasn’t there.

“My daughter called me and she said that her son, my grandson, had not made it to the westside nursery. She said the lady in the nursery said the other kids from Kujawa Elementary arrived, but John Jr. was not on the bus,” said the boy’s grandmother, Katrena Douglas, who spent 15 years as an Aldine ISD bus driver.

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3. Texas summer pandemic food benefits for families include a one-time benefit of $375 per eligible child

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a third round of federal Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) food benefits for families with children who have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Summer P-EBT, which covers June through August, provides a one-time benefit of $375 per eligible child and can be used in the same way as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits to pay for groceries. The administration of summer P-EBT is a joint effort by HHSC, the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Texas Education Agency.

Summer P-EBT is for families with children in grades K through 12 who are certified for free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and families with children born after Aug. 1, 2014 who receive SNAP food benefits.

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4. Houston Methodist renewing calls for convalescent plasma

Houston Methodist is renewing its call for recovered COVID-19 patients to donate convalescent plasma.

The local hospital was the first academic medical center in the nation to treat patients with convalescent plasma. Plasma is a yellow liquid obtained from recovered patients and, according to Methodist, it contains virus-fighting antibodies.

Although some institutions now disagree with the effectiveness, Methodist claims their studies indicate patients in the early stages of the disease are more likely to survive than similar patients who do not receive the treatment.

Recently, it’s getting harder to find donors. The hospital said they are getting about three units per day but they really need five times that amount.

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5. Full FDA approval of Pfizer vaccine opens door for vaccine mandates in Texas

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine Monday is cracking open the door for Texas cities, counties and school districts to compel their employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 — moves previously blocked by Gov. Greg Abbott.

Abbott had banned public schools and local governments from enacting their own vaccine mandates. But the governor’s executive order specifies that the ban on mandates applies to COVID-19 vaccines that are under emergency authorization — a designation that no longer applies to the Pfizer two-dose vaccination.

Already, one major school district is pressing forward with its plan to require vaccinations for teachers and staff.

Pedro Martinez, superintendent for the San Antonio Independent School District, called for mandatory employee vaccinations last week — drawing a lawsuit from Attorney General Ken Paxton, who accused the district and Martinez of breaching Abbott’s ban on vaccine mandates.

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