Weekend brunch for 16 August 2020

News and views from around the web

Area COVID reproduction rate drops below 1.0 (source: Texas Medical Center)

[WB1] As we’ve noted for several weeks now, area COVID-19 numbers continue to trend in the right direction.

This seems to be almost disappointing for some journalists, judging from this entirely misleading headline in the area newspaper of record: As hospital counts drop, community spread numbers suggest Houston still isn’t containing COVID

Not only have COVID-related hospital counts been improving, but for six days in a row (at the time of this posting), the area’s COVID-19 Effective Reproduction Rate – R (t) – has been under 1.0 (as estimated by the Texas Medical Center). R(t) is literally an estimate of the spread of COVID-19. As blogHOUSTON readers may recall from this article we linked previously, when R(t) is consistently below 1, that means that our area IS containing the spread (contrary to the Chron headline). The Texas Medical Center cautions that it takes 14 days in a row for R(t) to remain under 1 for us to say we’re effectively controlling the virus, but the current trend is VERY GOOD NEWS and the newspaper headline is highly misleading.

Indeed, we are closing in on time for the county judge to consider dialing back this backwards threat level gage, since no relevant metric suggests the outbreak is still worsening in our area, and area hospitals are under no plausible threat of being overwhelmed by COVID-19 at this point.

[WB2] The numbers being reported by the state have been highly suspect of late, unfortunately, prompting an investigation as to what in the world is going on.

[WB3] National Review had a good writeup this week about how Houston defied Doomsday COVID predictions (calling out some of the particularly egregious media arm-waving).

[WB4] KPRC-2 reports that law enforcement officials continue to investigate the stash of thousands of pieces of African artwork being stored in Harris County facilities in Rodney Ellis’s district.

[WB5] Harris County finally fired the firm responsible for the delayed, expensive new Houston Ship Channel Bridge this week. Meanwhile, METRO and crew still haven’t opened the long delayed, expensive Post Oak BRT boondoggle.

[WB6] Hurricane Ike hit roughly 12 years ago, and as Eric Berger notes, we still haven’t made any real progress on mitigating future storm surges.

[WB7] Some people are leaving the Houston area, no doubt as a result of the pandemic, greater ability to work from home, the inability of leaders to address the area’s growing problems (including hurricane/flood mitigation), and a re-evaluation of quality-of-life issues.

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Kevin Whited
About Kevin Whited 4244 Articles
Kevin Whited is co-founder and publisher of blogHOUSTON. Follow him on twitter: @PubliusTX