5 things for Houstonians to know for Tuesday, Nov. 30

Snow surrounds an Austin Energy station on Feb. 18. (Sergio Flores For The Texas Tribune, Sergio Flores For The Texas Tribune)

Here are things to know for Tuesday, Nov. 30:

1. Biden pushes shots, not more restrictions as variant spreads

President Joe Biden called the new coronavirus variant omicron a cause for concern but “not a cause for panic” Monday and said he was not considering any widespread U.S. lockdown. He urged Americans anew to get fully vaccinated, including booster shots, and return to face masks indoors in public settings to slow any spread.

Speaking Monday at the White House, Biden said it was inevitable that the new variant would reach the U.S., but he also said the country has the tools necessary to protect Americans — particularly the approved vaccines and booster shots.

When omicron arrives, and it will, Biden said, America will “face this new threat just as we’ve faced those that have come before it.”

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2. New info shows omicron spread wider earlier than thought

New findings about the coronavirus’s omicron variant made it clear Tuesday that the emerging threat slipped into countries well before their defenses were up, as two distant nations announced their first cases and a third reported its presence before South African officials sounded the alarm.

The Netherlands’ RIVM health institute found omicron in samples dating from Nov. 19 and 23. The World Health Organization said South Africa first reported the variant to the U.N. health agency on Nov. 24. Meanwhile, Japan and France reported their first cases of the new variant that has forced the world once again to pinball between hopes of returning to normal and fears that the worst is yet to come.

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3. December deadline approaching for Texas Power Plants to provide winter preparation plans

After the winter storm emergency that killed more than 200 people in February, power companies are facing a December deadline to submit plans for this upcoming winter.

In October, The Public Utility Commission of Texas adopted a new rule setting requirements for power generators and suppliers.

The series of winterization steps were first recommended 10 years ago after the 2011 winter storm.

The reports must be turned in to ERCOT by Dec. 1, 20 days before the official start of winter.

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4. Houston man sentenced to more than 9 years in prison for getting nearly $1.6M in PPP loans and spending it on Lamborghini, strip clubs

The Houston man accused of going on a shopping spree after receiving more than $1.6 million from the Small Business Association’s Paycheck Protection Program has been sentenced to 110 months in prison, the U.S. Justice Department announced Monday.

According to court documents, 30-year-old Lee Price III pleaded guilty in September to charges of wire fraud and money laundering, submitting fraudulent PPP loan applications to two different lenders on behalf of three businesses: 713 Construction LLC, Price Enterprises Holdings LLC, and Price Logistic Services LLC.

Through these loan applications, Price sought over $2.6 million and actually obtained over $1.6 million in PPP loan funds. Court documents said Price falsely reported the number of employees and payroll expenses in each of the PPP loan applications.

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5. Dangerous Missouri City railroad crossing that KPRC 2 investigated in 2019 has still not been reengineered

On Nov. 19, a railroad crossing located at Cravens Road and US 90 in Missouri City experienced its 11th train versus vehicle accident in less than a decade.

For 2021 alone, the total count of accidents stands at two, according to Lt. Russell Terry with the Missouri City Police Department.

In January 2019, KPRC 2 Investigates captured the dangers of the railroad crossing with Missouri City police Sergeant Tracy Cox. Our cameras captured large semis with long trailers jammed up at the intersection, a good portion of their trailer on the train tracks. What we noticed, that if a train was coming at that moment, the semi would either face impact or pull into traffic and collide with several vehicles since US 90 is consistently a busy highway.

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