5 things for Houstonians to know for Thursday, Dec. 30

People gathered at a mural and memorial honoring Army Specialist Vanessa Guilln at Taqueria del Sol on Sunday, July 5, 2020. (Briana Vargas For The Texas Tribune, Briana Vargas For The Texas Tribune)

Here are things to know for Thursday, Dec. 30:

1. Body found in Baytown park identified as 15-year-old high school track star, family confirms

The body of a 15-year-old student found outside at a Baytown park has been identified by her loved ones.

On Tuesday morning, the body of Sterling High School sophomore Jania Tatum-Scott was reportedly found at the park right across the street from her mother’s apartment with a deadly gunshot wound.

Authorities said the body was originally found in the middle of a field at Tejas Park located in the 500 block of Hafer Avenue around 8:15 a.m.

According to Jania’s mom, Angie Tatum, the park where her daughter’s body was located was her favorite park.

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2. Brookshire police search for man who attacked woman at Hovas Park

Surveillance video cameras captured the moment screams and cries were heard outside of a home in Brookshire, while another angle shows a neighbor calling for help as a woman in the distance tries to get away from her attacker.

“Her whole head was just solid blood, it looked like a murder,” Kerry O’Brien said. “It was bad. I live on the corner over there. They jumped in the truck [and] we went straight to the hospital.”

O’Brien, who was nearby during the incident, became a Good Samaritan when he stopped to try to help the woman out.

Brookshire police say the woman who was attacked Monday evening at Hovas Park was out jogging when a man reportedly pulled her hair and punched her in the face.

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3. New law named for Vanessa Guillén will revamp military investigations into sexual assault, harassment

Commanders will no longer be involved in military sexual harassment or sexual assault investigations under a new federal law named for a murdered Fort Hood soldier that goes into effect on Jan. 1.

Provisions of the “I Am Vanessa Guillén Act” were included in the $770 billion National Defense Authorization Act that was signed by President Biden on Monday.

Under the new law, the decision to prosecute sexual assault and sexual harassment will be made outside service members’ chain of command and they will be offered protections against retaliation. A similar state law, filed by state Sen. César Blanco, D-El Paso, was passed and signed into law last summer.

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4. Houston wastewater indicates omicron is soaring as rapid tests deemed less reliable

The city of Houston knows a lot of you are infected with Omicron, and they don’t even need your test results to prove it. They’ve been collecting wastewater samples since July 2020.

The previous highest peak of COVID cases detected in the wastewater was on July 6, 2020, and that set the threshold (100%) for all measurements thereafter.

According to the health department, the virus load is now 546% of the baseline, which is up from 142% last week and 76% the previous week.

However, early data from other countries indicates omicron infections may disappear as fast as they showed up, leaving many to believe it’s highly contagious but maybe not as dangerous.

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5. Clinic in SW Houston dealing with staff shortages and influx of people positive with COVID-19

Americans across the country and here in Southeast Texas are facing long lines for COVID tests as cases continue to climb.

Now, some clinics are being overwhelmed by the number of patients signing up for tests at their offices.

Healthcare officials from the Hillcroft Physicians Clinic in southwest Houston say they’ve been screening and treating between 70 to 80 people a day who’ve tested positive for the virus.

“This week has been really bad. It just suddenly hit a lot of our people,” Clinic Medical Director at Hillcroft Physicians Dr. Forough Farizani said.

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