October 30, 2020


Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence Tests Positive for the Coronavirus

From today’s JAMA:Peripheral Oxygen Saturation in Older Persons Wearing Nonmedical Face Masks in Community Settings

(J. Harris: Masks are safe and should be worn.)

1. Why, exactly, are restaurants so risky? First off, they tend to be noisy spaces. People talk loudly, expelling more air than usual—and thus more potentially virus-laden aerosols

2. Then there’s the lack of mask-wearing inside restaurants. Diners tend to take them off, because you can’t eat or drink while wearing one.

3.Inadequate ventilation allows tiny virus particles to hang in the air for long periods of time, just waiting to be breathed in.

4.Virtually every documented case of super-spreading has taken place in a crowded,  noisy, poorly ventilated room—many of them restaurants.


1. Medicare and Medicaid to Cover Early Covid Vaccine (Politico) The Trump administration this week will announce a plan to cover the out-of-pocket costs of Covid-19 vaccines for millions of Americans who receive Medicare or Medicaid, said four people with knowledge of the pending announcement. Under the planned rule, Medicare and Medicaid will now cover vaccines that receive emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, the people said, which is a change from current policy.

2.EPI UPDATE The WHO COVID-19 Dashboard reports 43.5 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1.16 million COVID-19 deaths as of 8:30am EDT on October 28…The US CDC reported 8.68 million total cases, 225,084 total deaths, and 492,026 new cases in the past 7 days. The daily COVID-19 incidence continues to increase, now up to 63,589 new cases per day, compared to 59,699 new cases reported last Wednesday and almost as high as the peak incidence in late July.

3. COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIESColleges and universities across the country have experienced substantial financial and logistical challenges as a result of the pandemic, with some schools eliminating programs, furloughing faculty, and implementing austerity measures. The financial strain preceded the pandemic, but has been exacerbated by reduced enrollment and revenue, paired with substantial expenditures to support expansive testing, contact tracing, and quarantining of students. The American Council on Education published a letter last week stating that the pandemic would cost higher education institutions $120 billion. As part of response efforts, some universities are implementing studies to test wastewater and sewage for COVID-19. Testing wastewater is much cheaper than testing individual students, and implementation is more feasible in a dorm environment. The testing approach cannot identify which individuals are infected with SARS-CoV-2, nor how many infections there are. However, the data can indicate potential trends or the occurrence of an outbreak in a setting.

4. Some Covid Survivors Have Antibodies That Attack the Body, Not Virus (New York Times) Some survivors of Covid-19 carry worrying signs that their immune system has turned on the body, reminiscent of potentially debilitating diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, a new study has found.

5. Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Studies Showing Waning Coronavirus Antibodies(New York TImes) The portion of people in Britain with detectable antibodies to the coronavirus fell by roughly 27 percent over a period of three months this summer, researchers reported Monday, prompting fears that immunity to the virus is short-lived. But several experts said these worries were overblown. It is normal for levels of antibodies to drop after the body clears an infection, but immune cells carry a memory of the virus and can churn out fresh antibodies when needed.(J. Harris: Some of the time)

The Difference Between Feeling Safe and Being Safe
(J. Harris: A good article for non kool-aid drinkers. It’s very readable and compelling.)”People’s dependence on group affiliation for safety and support can be so strong… that it sometimes overrides more logical assessments of fear and safety…People’s dependence on group affiliation for safety and support can be so strong…that it sometimes overrides more logical assessments of fear and safety…the best way to get lots of people to adopt new safety precautions is to be explicit and consistent about what they (precautions) are and why they’re important, and then demonstrate examples of people adhering to them repeatedly over time…the biggest problem we have right now is mixed messages….many people presented with a barrage of contradictory instructions just grow tired and give up. Others become hypervigilant, their behavior calcifying against new information that might let them ease up and enjoy life a little more. Still others simply choose optimism, no matter how dangerously misguided—such as the belief that “herd immunity” is near, or the assumption that catching the virus will have no long-term consequences for them. “People will gravitate to the positive message because it’s convenient, and it’s not scary, it’s not fearful…Americans have no common conception of the pandemic, which means you can’t assume that someone you’ve trusted for years isn’t about to expose you to a deadly disease,…People feel bad about enforcing their boundaries, or they simply grow tired of constant vigilance. Occasionally, they just forget.’


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Sidebar – Questions and Answers

Q: During the past three and a half years, since the sexual assault by Dr. Kelehan, what has been your state of mind? 

A: Reflective. When life slows down, especially when one puts down alcohol and drugs after years of using them as a means of emotional support and “medication”, you’re left with a very raw “you”. 

I have had to concentrate on looking at the harm I’ve done to others as a result of entertaining such an extremely selfish view of life.

 That’s what drugs and alcohol do. They demand you remain selfish in an effort to keep you dependent and willing to do anything to obtain them. But, it must be noted that examining the harm you’ve done to others includes moments that you must also consider the harm that you may have done to yourself. That sort of reflection involves examining the person that I would or could have been without alcohol and drugs. That’s not easy. 

That reflection, in order to be effective, requires me to divorce myself from regret. As I write this, I’m still plagued by this regret. But, I’m told that this will pass.

Q: After the no bill decision by the grand jury in 2018, what kept you going to seek justice?

A: I don’t think I was seeking “justice” after the no-bill. I don’t know if that can be had considering the politics involved. 

I’m not even sure if there is such a thing as justice in this situation. I wrote a letter to the medical board as a cathartic exercise. It was suggested, by a therapist, that I write myself a letter forgiving myself for placing myself in that position. Also, as a “message in a bottle” exercise, 

I was asked to write a letter to a governing body and, after mailing the letter, forget about it. I did forget about it. The medical board didn’t.

Q: When you contacted the Texas Medical Board to file charges, did you think you had a chance of vindication or were you just going through the motions, trying anything to get justice.

A: I had no expectations. And, after the political (situation)in East Texas, I was jaded and carried around the idea that no one would care.

Q: What were your thoughts during the hearing? At the time the board announced its decision?

A: I was relieved to have been given the opportunity to tell my story and have it behind me. I wasn’t too anticipatory concerning the verdict. It was almost a non-issue in my mind. I truly felt better after simply testifying and that’s all I was seeking to begin with.

Q: There will be a followup hearing by the medical board to determine if Dr. Kelehan is permanently suspended from practicing medicine, but the decision to forbid him or any physicians assistants from seeing patients, administering any prescriptions for drugs or do telemedicine consults is pretty crippling for a practicing physician.

Your thoughts?

A: I believe the whole affair is sad. There is no “gain” in this situation. I’ve never said Dr. Kelehan is a bad person or a bad physician.I don’t think there’s anyone on this earth who can say that. 

Conversely, there’s not many people who can say I lived a “good” life. There’s plenty of people that can rightly claim that I was a “bad” person by all the normal standards of society. Even so, I don’t know when I stopped being a “person”, even with the adjectives, and should simply be okay with being drugged and taken advantage of. That never sat right with me. 

In a way, that’s the kind of attitude that contributed to keeping me intoxicated over all those years. I always discounted my worth as a human and accepting that behavior from another human is nothing but an exercise in self loathing.

 I simply needed to talk about what happened and find a way of releasing myself from my past surrounding that time of my life.

Q: Watching your mother Sandy Dunham testify for Dr. Kelehan must have been hard. Thoughts about watching that?

A: I was only disturbed when my mother testified. I knew that was a possibility. In fact, I would have been surprised if they’d not called her as a character witness.

 I was only disturbed because she looked very tired and I knew, once again, I was partly responsible for that. You see, it’s been some years since I’ve seen my mother and not many kind words were passed between us in the prior years.

 I didn’t disagree with anything she said about my prior dishonesty. And, knowing her well, I knew she was fine with relaying all the dirty inter-family secrets that would discredit me. That’s never been a problem for her. 

My problems with addiction and alcohol have always been something that she refused to look at from a logical perspective. Just as she refused to ever review the evidence in this situation, my mother refused to acknowledge alcohol as an issue beyond, “just don’t drink”.

 In 20 years of multiple rehabs and visits to ICU surrounding alcohol, she never once visited me or called me.  

My mother’s take on alcoholism was always an emotional one. And a regurgitation of my past in that hearing was possibly emotionally soothing for her.  My past is low hanging fruit and I really take no offense to it being used. 

I truly hope she felt better afterwards. I certainly owe her any amount of latitude she needs in an effort to “feel” better. 

Q: Any other thoughts?

A: Life is hard. People are strange. Tragedy is the dirt… while joy is the diamond

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Dr. Shaun Bobbi Kelehan of Marshall Practice of Medicine Curtailed

By George S. Smith
Retired Editor and Publisher

Dr. Shaun Bobbi Kelehan of Marshall had his practice of medicine severely curtailed Wednesday, October 28 by the Texas Medical Board following an 11-hour disciplinary hearing. Kelehan was accused of administering drugs to a male patient and then sexually abusing him in March of 2017.

Specifically, according to a release by the board, Kelehan’s “continuation in the unrestricted practice of medicine poses ‘a continuing threat to the public welfare.’”

The board further found Kelehan “engaged in nonconsensual sexual encounters with a patient and administered medications to the patient during these encounters.” The board determined that no “record of treatment” was provided to the patient.

Based on a complaint from Marshall native Steven Trey Wood, which was backed up by video and audio recordings, Marshall Police Department investigation documents and a months-long investigation by Samer Shobassy, board litigation staff attorney, Kelehan was handed an initial harsh punishment. The board decreed:

  • Kelehan could no longer administer medical treatment to male patients;
  • He can not prescribe prescription drugs to male patients.
  • The doctor’s Physician Assistants (PA) at his clinics could not see male patients;
  • Female patients can only be seen at his clinics; and
  • Kelehan cannot provide telemedicine sessions.

Additionally, the board will meet within a few weeks, after an evaluation of medical needs in the communities in which he has clinics to determine whether to permanently suspend his license to practice medicine.

Kelehan is owner of Marshall’s Access Family Health clinic on Alamo Boulevard. He is also listed on the internet as an owner and a physician at a clinic by the same name on Judson Road in Longview, a third clinic on Fifth Street in Tyler and another one on Wells Branch Parkway West in Pflugerville.

He is a 2000 graduate of the University of Texas School of Medicine in Houston. He also is listed as a co-owner of Wellness Properties of America, a property owner and management company that buys and builds commercial buildings.

In mid-2017, charges brought against Kelehan following an investigation by Marshall Police Department’s Det. Rob Farnham . Harrison County District Attorney Coke Solomon, recused himself for the case, citing the fact Kelehan was his personal physician.

A special prosecutor from Longview was appointed and a grand jury was called. The grand jury declined to bring charges, delivering a nolle proseui ruling (will not prosecute). Wood was not called to testify, nor did the grand jury members hear or see the recordings of Kelehan the medical board heard of him admitting the acts.

During the police investigation of the charges, Wood was requested to meet with  Kelehan and make, first, audio recordings, which he did. He was later requested to make video recordings, and secured two videos, with Kelehan admitting the sexual encounter. In one of the recordings, Kelehan admitted a previous sexual encounter, which Wood did not remember taking place.

Wood is a graduate of Marshall High School, a former Maverick football player and a former student at Texas Tech. He is also a former blogger for the Marshall News Messenger, winning two first place awards in state press association contests for his articles.

Wood will be the first to admit that for most of his life, he has gone out of his way to get into trouble. While he said it would be an “easy out” to blame myriad circumstances in his life for “wasting big part of his life,” he blames no one but himself. “I chose to do what I did at the time I did it,” he said. ‘Me. All the misfortunes in my life fall right back on me.”

In addition to trying every addictive substance he could obtain, he spent more than two years in a Texas prison for “robbing a drug dealer.” He makes no excuses for his actions – “Whatever trouble I got into, I deserved it.”

Of the sexual assault, Wood said, “I am an alcoholic who has been clean for almost two years.” A regular at Austin Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, he said, “I know what hitting rock bottom means. But, nothing in my life led me to deal with a situation like this.”

Wood said, “I was betrayed at the hands of a friend. A homosexual encounter … no, apparently two encounters … that I have never thought about on any level, was pushed on me by a person I knew was gay but who also implicitly knew I was not gay. I had derailed previous attempts at ‘gay play.’ When he previously tried to put his hands down my pants, I would tell him to stop, that I didn’t think it was funny. He had always complied.”

In March of 2017, when Wood readily admitted he was at rock-bottom during a breakup of a personal relationship. He went to Kelehan residence in Marshall for help and drugs to deal with the pain, emotional and physical. Kelehan let him stay in his guest house.

Wood said, “He decided to do what he wanted to do to me, to take advantage of my self-destructive condition by lying to me and administering drugs that incapacitated me; the drugs basically paralyzed me.”

After the incident, this writer, a longtime friend drove to Marshall, picked up Wood and took him to his home in Southwest Arkansas almost a week, until a visit to a Texas rehab facility could be arranged.

A surprise witness at the medical board hearing was Sandy Durham of Marshall, Wood’s mother. She testified for the defense. When asked by Shobassy if she had seen the video of Kelehan admitting he had sexually assaulted her son, she said she had not. She was then asked if she did view the video that showed Kelehan admitting the abuse, if Kelehan then told her that he did not commit the act, would she believe her son or Kelehan. She replied she would believe Kelehan.

Shobassy had no further questions for Dunham.

The Texas Medical Board is the state agency mandated to regulate the practice of medicine by Doctors of Medicine (MDs) and Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) in Texas. The Board consists of 12 physician members and seven public members appointed for a six-year term by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. 

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Wonderland of Lights Outdoor Christmas Market

The Wonderland of Lights Outdoor Christmas Market vendor registration is open for both weekends of Dec. 5 and Dec. 12 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.

A booth space is $30 per space for approximately 10×10 for one day. Electricity is not available. Tables, chairs and canopies are the sole responsibility of the vendor. Merchandise should be limited to holiday decor, crafts/homemade goods, stocking stuffers, and gifts items. Only one consultant per brand.

There is no admission cost for shoppers.

*** COVID- 19 Safety Precautions ***

– We are committed to the safety of our merchants, citizens, and guests. We will continue to stay informed on the most recent regulations in place and will further adapt any events as needed.

– Vendor booths will be spaced a minimum 10 feet apart from one another.

– Social distancing will be observed by shoppers and vendors.

– A capacity limit on each block may be established.

– There will be no food product sampling.

– This event is subject to cancellation depending on the condition of COVID-19 in our community. In the event of cancellations, vendors will be fully refunded.

To register, please visit

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October 28, 2020

Harrison County continued to experience a rise in COVID-19 cases, on Tuesday, with a report of 12 new cases.

County Judge Chad Sims noted that of the cumulative total of 1,077 positive cases for the county, 35 have resulted in deaths, 972 have been recoveries and 70 are considered active cases.
Also, on Tuesday, Marshall Independent School District reported three positive confirmed cases of staff members at Marshall Junior High School.

“We also have one recovery to report at David Crockett Elementary,” MISD Public Information Director David Weaver informed.

“This puts us at zero active cases at Crockett and we currently have just one active case total in grades K-5,” said Weaver. “Overall, we currently have 11 active cases in MISD, with 30 recoveries, in a total of 41 cases of COVID-19 in MISD since school began on August 13.”


J. Harris: There is no reason to think that Harrison County cases won’t creep on up.  Both charts show that we still have available ICU beds in Longview and Tyler, but thousands of folks will be needing them. MASK UP, PLEASE.

Click here to enlarge the table

Association Between Social Vulnerability and a County’s Risk for Becoming a COVID-19 Hotspot — United States, June 1–July 25, 2020
(J. Harris: This is an East Texas translation of this locally important article. We are a sitting duck:)  AREAS MORE LIKELY TO BECOME HOTSPOTS HAVE SOCIAL VULNERABILITIES  Higher representation of racial and ethnic minority residents
 More housing units per structure (big public housing complexes)
 Crowded housing units (i.e., more persons that rooms)
 Away from the big cities
 More inhabitants with disabilities,
 High number of residents with poor English language skills
 Less availability of personal and public transportation
 Residents  who work in facilities requiring in-person work (e.g., meat processing facilities and grocery stores)
 residents, who might be more likely to have essential jobs requiring in-person work and live in potentially crowded conditions
(J. Harris: I would also add  areas whose residents have:
 a. less access to health care, private as well as county or charity
 b. residents whose immigration status is problematic and frightens them away from   seeking timely medical care
 c. residents who have no money or credit or local contacts
  f. ethnic minority residents who work and live together in very crowded conditions)g. residents who are less well educated h. residents who have nowhere else to goi.  residents who live in communities whose traditional residents are less well educated, hard headed, and who are reluctant to abide by reasonable preventive health measures such as masks, social distancing, and avoidance of crowdsj. residents who state and local governments at times cannot or will not demand lawfully available preventive public health ordinances k. many residents are incarcerated in local jails or prisonsl. residents has poor access to mental health amenities 

ARTICLE SUMMARY AND SUGGESTIONS: Focused public health action in these medical and socially vulnerable counties:1.  Prioritizing vaccination access  2.  Provide plain-language and culturally sensitive and relevant public health messaging which can and should be tailored

Johns’ Hopkins Material:1. FDA Approves First Treatment for COVID-19 The US Food and Drug Administration approved the antiviral drug Veklury (remdesivir) for use in adult and pediatric patients 12 years of age and older and weighing at least 40 kilograms (about 88 pounds) for the treatment of COVID-19 requiring hospitalization. Veklury should only be administered in a hospital or in a healthcare setting capable of providing acute care comparable to inpatient hospital care. Veklury is the first treatment for COVID-19 to receive FDA approval. (FDA, 10/22/2020)
2.  COMMENTARYThe FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee and its Role in Advising the Agency on COVID-19 Vaccines The development of safe and effective vaccines to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection and/or COVID-19 is essential to help bring the pandemic under control. The US Food and Drug Administration is committed to making decisions that are guided by science and data regarding the authorization or approval of COVID-19 vaccines. The process of vaccine development and FDA’s evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines is and will continue to be as open and transparent as possible. Why is this so important? Transparency in FDA’s processes can help people feel more confident in receiving COVID-19 vaccines, which is critical to their widespread use. 


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October 27, 2020

Coronavirus: Antibodies fall rapidly after COVID infection, dashing hopes of herd immunity – study
 (J. Harris: Read this! Understandable 5 min. read that dispels any current hope of Herd Immunity)

The Most Important Takeaways from the FDA’s Big Covid-19 Vaccine Meeting

Home tests could help in the fight against the coronavirus. So where are they?
(J. Harris: Readable article about testing)Ten months into the coronavirus pandemic, the promise of a rapid and inexpensive at-home test for the virus remains unfulfilled as companies struggle to overcome final regulatory hurdles. The technology for such tests exists, and early versions are being used in nursing homes and schools. But companies racing to bring the tests to the wider U.S. market must make them more accurate and easier to use before they can meet federal guidelines that would allow sales directly to consumers. Although no single test will end the pandemic in the United States, experts say the ability for people to take a test at home and know within minutes whether they’re infected could be an important component in stanching the spread of the virus.

COVID-19 diagnostic testing
(J. Harris: Great, simple, readable testing summary.)

Can We Test Our Way Out of the COVID-19 Pandemic? (J. Harris: Complicated article about testing.)
Frequent, low-cost, universal testing for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) with quarantine of those with a positive result has been suggested as a strategy to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in the United States. Specifically, home or community use of tests that use paper strip detection devices, which may have reduced sensitivity for SARS-CoV-2, has been advocated. There are several potential challenges or problems with this strategy, including the limited availability of such tests, consequences of incorrect test results, difficulties with adherence to testing, and the questionable accuracy of such tests for detection of infectious people. Because of these, we think it is premature to strongly advocate for such a testing strategy, as the adverse consequences may outweigh any benefits. High-quality outcome data demonstrating the efficacy of this testing strategy are needed before widespread implementation.
MORE Johns Hopkins Selections:1.  At Capacity’: Covid-19 Patients Push U.S. Hospitals to Brink(New York Times) More than 41,000 people are currently hospitalized with the coronavirus in the United States, a 40 percent rise in the past month, and cooler weather that pushes more people indoors is threatening to expand the outbreak still more. At least 14 states saw more people hospitalized for the virus on a day in the past week than on any other day in the pandemic, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Seven more states are nearing their peaks.
A 7-hour flight has been linked to 59 coronavirus cases in Ireland, researchers say


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October 24, 2020

Click here to enlarge table

(J. Harris: from Fri to Sat state count only went up about 200. ICU bed count for our area is low but stable. I anticipate that by about Tues, the number of hospitalized Covid cases in Texas will be a good bit higher. I would love to be wrong. Unfortunately, locals who should know better are attracting and entertaining large groups — hopefully they won’t do any worse than the White House Superspreader fiasco. But, heck, we’re from East Texas and bullet proof, aren’t we?)

Marshall ISD latest district to announce end to virtual learning
(J. Harris: With Covid counts rising, this arguably is not a good time to open the schools, but the MISD has been diligent in their Covid prevention efforts and are doing what they feel they must. Read this article; it’s thorough.)

1. Wisconsin Cases: SARS-CoV-2 Sequencing Reveals Rapid Transmission from College Student Clusters Resulting in Morbidity and Deaths in Vulnerable Populations(MedRxiv) La Crosse County, Wisconsin experienced a substantial SARS-CoV-2 outbreak (2,002 cases in September 2020) that coincided with the return to in-person instruction at three local academic institutions. Genomic sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 cases in La Crosse during that period found rapid expansion of two viral substrains. Although the majority of cases were among college-age individuals, from a total of 111 genomes sequenced we identified rapid transmission of the virus into more vulnerable populations. Eight sampled genomes represented two independent transmission events into two skilled nursing facilities, resulting in two fatalities.

2. (More Wisconsin stories) After a college town’s coronavirus outbreak, deaths at nursing homes mount

Stop wiping down groceries and focus on bigger risks, say experts on coronavirus transmission
(J. Harris: Excellent  and readable article about virus tactile contacts. For instance, a good reason for good handwashing is to prevent bringing viruses into your house where they might linger for a long time.)

R FACTOR: HOW FAST WILL COVID SPREAD R Factor for Texas is >1 for the first time since late July. It is 1.05 and it’s an index of infectivity. Anything above 1 is bad. 

Click here to read the article

SARS-CoV-2 antibody seroprevalence in patients receiving dialysis in the USA see attached

NURSING HOME CONSIDERATIONS FROM LANCET. IF 65+ SHOULD READ THE ATTACHED(J. Harris: Important  and encouraging read for our older readers which addresses need in medical care for older folks)
Click her to read the article

Click here to read the article


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The Ginocchio Is Re-opening

The Ginocchio would like to introduce its General Manager, Brantley Price. Welcome aboard Brantley!

Brantley Price

Brantley brings years of food, beverage and management experience to the re-opening of The Ginocchio. There are a number of unique challenges in operating a restaurant like The Ginocchio in these very unusual times. We are confident that Brantley and Chef Reynaldo can lead the charge in overcoming these challenges and can guide The Ginocchio back to the highest levels of excellence in dining, cocktails and service.

Some have asked – why not reopen The Ginocchio, just as it was? While we are very proud of what Chef Reynaldo and The Ginocchio team were able to achieve in our first run, we also recognize that providing that special Ginocchio experience while also maintaining the highest standards of safety for our customers and our staff requires a great deal of fresh thinking. The times have changed, but our Mission has not. Brantley and The Ginocchio will find a way to adapt and evolve and achieve that Mission.

For those of you who were predicting our demise, sorry – The Ginocchio is reloading and relaunching with every intention of serving our loyal customers for years and decades to come. Positive things are happening in Marshall, and we are proud to be part of this historic community. Pandemic, social unrest, polarization – let’s work together to address these challenges, while respecting all members of our community, regardless of ethnicity, background, gender or religion. Our Mission requires no less.

The Ginocchio will be announce its reopening schedule very soon. Bear with us as we work to get things right for you. We look forward to serving you again soon!

The Ginocchio

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October 23, 2020


2. MAP OF TEXAS TRAUMA AREAS We are area “G”.  Piney Woods TSAThese are previously designated areas for trauma preparedness which are being utilized for Covid-19 statistical purposes at this time. Note that there are many mid sized and larger towns in our counties. Most of the ICU Beds are in Longview and Tyler. They are filling up again.

Click here for an enlarge map


The 18 Counties in this area are, statistically, utilizing the same hospital facilities. 


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CDC’s Halloween Guidelines Warn Against Typical Trick-Or-Treating

In a year that’s been plenty scary, this much is clear: Pandemic Halloween will be different than regular Halloween. Many traditional ways of celebrating are now considerably more frightful than usual, because now they bring the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Accordingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new guidelines on how to celebrate Halloween safely. No big surprise: Classic door-to-door trick-or-treating and crowded, boozy costume parties are not recommended.

The CDC’s guidelines group Halloween activities into lower-risk, moderate-risk and higher-risk buckets.

The higher-risk category includes both door-to-door trick-or-treating and events where kids get treats from the trunks of cars in a big parking lot.

Also no-nos: indoor haunted houses where people will be crowded and screaming, which could send infectious particles flying. Going on hayrides with people who aren’t in your household or fall festivals in rural areas also carry a risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. And using alcohol and drugs “can cloud [judgment] and increase risky behaviors,” the CDC warns — though that’s equally true in any season.

How to get your thrills instead?

The agency says this way of trick-or-treating poses a moderate risk (compared with the higher risk of the traditional style): Kids could pick up individually wrapped gift bags at the end of a driveway or yard while still preserving social distance.

You could also organize a small outdoor costume parade where everyone is 6 feet apart. An outdoor costume party would also be considered moderate risk, if people wear masks and stay 6 feet away from each other.

Haunted houses are out, and haunted forests are in. The CDC says an open-air scare-fest is moderately risky, so long as the route is one-way, people wear masks appropriately and stay 6 feet apart. But there’s a caveat: “If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised.”

What about apple picking and pumpkin patches? Risks can be reduced if people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or apples, wear masks and maintain social distance.

Also on the moderate-risk list: an outdoor scary movie night with local friends who are socially distanced. Again: The more screaming there is, the more space is needed for safe social distancing.

If you want to be really safe? Then you need to plan for either virtual activities or ones that you do largely with your own household.

The CDC’s lower-risk activities include carving pumpkins with your household, or outdoors with friends while socially distanced. It also suggests a Halloween scavenger hunt: looking for witches, spiderwebs and black cats outside houses while walking around — or a scavenger hunt for treats in your own home.

And what about masks? A costume mask is no substitute for a cloth mask, according to the agency, but don’t double up with one over the other because that can make it hard to breathe. Instead, consider a Halloween-themed cloth mask, the CDC suggests.

A costume mask can protect against spreading the coronavirus if it’s like a regular cloth mask: two or more layers of breathable fabric covering the nose and mouth, without gaps around the face.

And remember this, friendly neighbors: If you think you might have COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who does, don’t attend in-person Halloween activities — and certainly don’t hand out candy to trick-or-treaters.

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