Opinion: Negotiate Drug Prices

By George Smith  — September 16, 2021

Any elected official who is AGAINST a movement to allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies to reduce the exorbitant cost of medication  deserves nothing less than to be ousted in the next election.

Without putting too fine a brush to it, they are bought and paid for by big company campaign contributions.

Think! Why are folks buying needed medications in Mexico and Canada? They are cheaper because these countries created a system that does not make drug companies accountable for exorbitant pricing.

The U.S. encourages high drug costs by allowing full-bore access to elected officials by big pharmaceutical lobbyists who “buy” influence via campaign cash.

And we keep electing these yahoos over and over. Term limits would go a long way to help move “honesty” back in politics.

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CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 09/16/2021

FROM HOPKINS CITATIONS:

1. NEWS

Report: 20 Years After 9/11, America Still Not Fully Prepared for Public Health Emergencies A new report from Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) has found that 20 years after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, America is not fully prepared for public health emergencies. The report, 2021 Ready or Not: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism, found that while the country is better prepared than it was in 2001, there is an urgent need for federal, state and local policymakers to prioritize the nation’s health security — something illuminated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report recommended that federal, state and local government bolster public health infrastructure investments to build the necessary workforce and systems that have otherwise been neglected, as well as federal investment in modernizing the public health data systems. (Homeland Preparedness News, 9/8/2021)

2. Using Wastewater Surveillance Data to Support the COVID-19 Response — United States, 2020–2021 Wastewater surveillance measures community infection trends. The accuracy of this surveillance approach is independent of health care–seeking behavior, health care access, or testing capacity. The National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS) is a 43-jurisdiction, CDC-coordinated system for SARS-CoV-2 wastewater surveillance. Wastewater surveillance data have been used to deploy clinical testing resources, investigate possible irregularities in traditional surveillance, refine health messaging, and forecast clinical resource needs. NWSS provides community-level surveillance data that complement traditional surveillance and facilitate earlier, focused health department intervention and support in communities experiencing increasing trends in wastewater SARS-CoV-2 concentrations. Community-level wastewater surveillance data can be leveraged for rapid assessment of emerging threats and preparedness for future pandemics. (CDC MMWR, 9/10/2021)

3. PRESS RELEASE

DHS to Increase Civil Penalties for Violations of the Federal Face Mask Requirement The Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will increase the range of civil penalties that may be imposed on individuals who violate the federal mask mandate at airports, on commercial aircraft, and in various modes of surface transportation, including passenger railroads, intercity bus services, and other public transportation. The federal mask mandate for transportation, which was implemented by TSA on February 2, 2021, will remain in effect until January 18, 2022. The new range of penalties, which take effect Friday, September 10, 2021, will be $500-$1000 for first offenders and $1000-$3000 for second offenders. (DHS, 9/9/2021)

FROM LETTER TO EDITOR NYT TODAY:

”I have finally learned that the deep pain and anger I have been dealing with — by being surrounded by many who don’t mask and many who aren’t vaccinated — really comes from the feeling of belonging to a community that doesn’t care about me, my family or others. A community should be a group of people who work together to make a safe and nice place to live. My community is currently the biggest threat to my family, and that is sad. How and when I will get over this, I’m unsure.”

— Celeste Huggins, Idaho Falls, Idaho

Marion County says they won’t enforce COVID-19 vaccine mandates

(J. Harris: Could this be another example of inspired East Texas political leadership? Notice on the chart below that Marion County currently leads East Texas in Covid cases as a percentage of the population. It’s unfortunate that the powers that be don’t understand much about mandated health needs in a Public Health Crisis. Over the last year, Marion County has gladly shared its unused vaccine with surrounding counties and schools.  Of course, all the old doctors and valued health messengers for Marion County are long dead and gone. Too bad. In some places, trusted health, political, and religious  leaders get a lot done by working together.)

FROM NYT 16 SEPT:

AND LAST BUT NOT LEASED”

Married men live longer than single men, but married men are a lot more willing to die.

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CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 09/15/2021

CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 09/15/2021

DAILY CASES/100,000 POPULATION. EAST TEXAS LOOKS SICKLY(NYT)

(J. Harris: As the counts creep up in SD, I hope all those nice bikers who went to Sturgis in mid Aug. got home alright. )

HARRISON COUNTY VACCINATIONS REMAIN INFREQUENT (NYT):

FROM HOPKINS CITED ARTICLES:

1. Investigation of an Outbreak of COVID-19 in a French Nursing Home With Most Residents Vaccinated (JAMA Network Open) We report an outbreak of COVID-19 in a French nursing home where most residents had been fully vaccinated with the BNT162b2 vaccine. This cohort study’s findings suggest that an outbreak of COVID-19 can occur among fully vaccinated NH residents. The study found evidence of transmission among vaccinated residents, but few individuals who were infected developed severe disease and 1 patient, who was unvaccinated, died. Moreover, these outcomes occurred in a setting in which approximately 30% of staff members were vaccinated.

2. ENGLAND VACCINE PASSPORTS England has abandoned its previously announced plan to implement a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine passport program by the end of this month that would have required people to show proof of vaccination to enter the country’s nightclubs and certain other crowded venues, UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid told the BBC on September 12. The announcement was made following opposition from some members of Parliament as well as representatives of the hospitality industry, who said such a program would create a burden for businesses and infringe on residents’ rights. Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, Secretary Javid said the government decided against the passports after “properly” looking at the issue and determining other factors could help keep COVID-19 incidence down, including high vaccine uptake, testing, surveillance, and treatments…

3. COVID-19 IN GORILLAS Several western lowland gorillas at Zoo Atlanta have tested positive for the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 after employees of the zoo noticed some members of the gorilla population exhibiting symptoms such as coughing, nasal discharge, decreased appetite, and decreased activity. A total of 20 gorillas live in 4 troops at the zoo, and officials said that 18 of them were experiencing varying degrees of symptoms. Sam Rivera, Senior Director of Animal Health for Zoo Atlanta, said the gorillas are receiving the best care possible and that at-risk members of the population are being treated with monoclonal antibodies. The gorillas will be provided with the Zoetis SARS-CoV-2 vaccine specifically designed for animals when they recover. Zoo Atlanta also announced plans to vaccinate their Bornean orangutan, Sumatran orangutan, African lion, and clouded leopard populations. 

AND LAST BUT NOT LEASED:

A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.

A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

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CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 09/14/2021

CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 09/14/2021

(J. Harris: FREE PFIZER VACCINE AT ETBU PROVIDED BY THE SCHOOL AND WALMART TODAY AND TOMORROW!

EASY ACCESS TO ROGERS SPIRITUAL LIFE CENTER OFF N. GROVE ON THE SOUTH END OF THE CAMPUS.  BRING YOUR VACCINATION CARD. IF YOU ARE “IMMUNOCOMPROMISED” AND HAVE BEEN 7 OR 8 MONTHS SINCE YOUR SECOND PFIZER INJECTION, ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS FILL OUT A SHORT, IMPERSONAL FORM THAT SIMPLY STATES THAT YOU ARE IMMUNOCOMPROMISED. NO QUESTIONS ASKED. NO IMMIGRATION  QUESTIONS.)

31 IS THE BUILDING. JUST OFF N. GROVE WHICH IS THE STREET TO THE RIGHT OF BUILDING 31. PARK ACROSS THE STREET. MINIMAL WALK. (www.ETBU.edu/clinic)

“…Please remember that ETBU’s second free on-campus COVID vaccination clinic in conjunction with Walmart takes place on-campus this week in Rogers Spiritual Life Center. Stop by on Tuesday, September 14 and Wednesday, September 15 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to receive either your first or second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination. Booster shots are available for those who are immunocompromised. To receive your second dose, you must present your vaccination card to confirm it has been at least 21 days since your first dose. For more information, visit www.ETBU.edu/clinic. This clinic is open to the public, so please share with your friends and family in the area.

FROM BECKER:

1.  Heart patient dies after being turned down from 43 ICUs amid COVID-19 surge

(J. Harris: Would vaccine mandates prevent this kind of crowding?)

FROM HOPKINS:

1. Interim Estimates of COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness Against COVID-19–Associated Emergency Department or Urgent Care Clinic Encounters and Hospitalizations Among Adults During SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617.2 (Delta) Variant Predominance — Nine States, June–August 2021 In this multistate interim analysis of 32,867 medical encounters among adults of all ages during June–August 2021, when the Delta variant was predominant in the United States, VE of all three authorized COVID-19 vaccines combined remained high against hospitalization (86%) and ED/UC encounters (82%). These overall VE estimates were similar to those during the months before Delta became predominant. However, VE against COVID-19 hospitalization among adults aged ≥75 years was significantly lower than that among adults aged <75 years, which had not been observed previously from this data source. This moderate decline should be interpreted with caution and might be related to changes in SARS-CoV-2, waning of vaccine-induced immunity with increased time since vaccination, or a combination of factors. Differences in VE between the two mRNA vaccines, which had not been observed previously in the VISION Network, are consistent with another recent finding. (CDC MMWR, 9/10/2021)

(J. Harris: Does this mean that folks over 75 are automatically “immunocompromised” because of their age?)

2. Israel Is Preparing for Possible Fourth Covid Vaccine Dose (Bloomberg) Israel is making preparations to ensure it has sufficient vaccine supply in case a fourth round of Covid-19 shots is needed, the country’s top health official said on Sunday. “We don’t know when it will happen; I hope very much that it won’t be within six months, like this time, and that the third dose will last for longer,” Health Ministry Director General Nachman Ash said in an interview with Radio 103FM.

3. Exposure Notification: Benefits and Challenges of Smartphone Applications to Augment Contact Tracing If you were near a person who later tests positive for an infectious disease, an exposure notification app can let you know. These apps allow for more rapid and broader contact tracing—ideally helping to slow disease spread. About half of the US states had their own COVID-19 exposure notification apps as of June 2021. A national app wasn’t available. GAO found 5 challenges related to exposure notification apps, such as privacy concerns and a dearth of evidence showing that the apps are effective. To address challenges, GAO identified 4 policy options, e.g., collaborating on a national strategy for these apps. (GAO, 9/9/2021)

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CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 09/11/2021

HELLO,

FROM BECKERS SELECTIONS:

1. Mu unlikely to replace delta as a dominant variant, virologists say

“…The delta coronavirus variant, which accounts for 99 percent of U.S. COVID-19 cases, will likely maintain its dominance over new variants such as mu (B.1.621) and lambda (C.37), virologists told The Wall Street Journal… they expect delta to outcompete these strains because of its high transmissibility. In short, other variants can’t spread to susceptible people as fast as delta can, which gives it a leg up…This means that new case surges will likely be driven by delta and its sub-variants, not a new virus lineage…At present, delta accounts for about 88 percent of new cases globally… on its current trajectory, delta would achieve fixation as the dominant strain worldwide within about a year of its emergence… In contrast, seasonal flu strains typically take two to five years to achieve fixation…”

2. New York health system to halt maternity care after staff resign over vaccine mandate

NYT SUMMARY

Breaking News: Unvaccinated Americans are 11 times more likely to die of Covid, the C.D.C. reported, among other data showing vaccines’ protection from severe cases.

GOOD SUMMARY OF PRESIDENT BIDDEN’S NEW COVID PLANS:

US COVID-19 RESPONSE In a speech delivered on September 9 from the White House, US President Joe Biden laid out a 6-pronged COVID-19 pandemic action plan, including new federal vaccine requirements for about two-thirds of the nation’s federal and private workforce, in an effort to stem the surge caused by the Delta variant and jumpstart economic recovery. President Biden excoriated unvaccinated individuals, saying “our patience is running thin” and blaming them for harming fellow Americans. He also pushed back against the politicization of the pandemic, promising to use the power of the federal government to take on state elected officials who are “undermining” the implementation of vaccination requirements, mask mandates, and other preventive measures.

Under the new plan, all private sector companies employing more than 100 people will be required to mandate vaccination or conduct weekly testing, affecting about 80 million people. Workers at healthcare facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding, about 17 million people, also will have to be vaccinated, extending an earlier requirement for workers at nursing homes to include facilities such as hospitals, home-health agencies, and dialysis centers. President Biden also is requiring all executive branch employees and federal contractors to be fully vaccinated, with no testing option, covering several million more workers. Additionally, employees of Head Start programs and schools run by the Department of Defense and Bureau of Indian Education, about 300,000 people, will be required to be vaccinated.

President Biden announced several other pieces of the plan, including a doubling of fines for travelers who refuse to wear masks in transit stations or on airplanes or trains. The government also is working with manufacturers and large retailers, including Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger, to lower the cost of at-home SARS-CoV-2 tests and distribute the tests to easily accessible sites such as shelters and food banks. The Department of Defense plans to send more teams into hard-hit areas, and the federal government will increase shipments of monoclonal antibody treatments and offer new support to small businesses

FROM HOPKINS CITATIONS:

1. COVID-19 Vaccines Don’t Raise Miscarriage Risk, 3 Studies Show (CIDRAP) Pregnant women who received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine were not at higher risk for miscarriage than their unvaccinated counterparts, according to a trio of new US studies.

2. Los Angeles Mandates Student Vaccinations in Nation’s Second-largest School District (Washington Post) The Los Angeles school board on Thursday agreed to require coronavirus vaccinations for students ages 12 and up in the city’s public school system, with board members arguing that it is the best way to protect students and keep schools open for in-person learning. Los Angeles is by far the largest school district in the country to take this step as experts and officials across the country worry the surging and highly contagious delta variant could upend yet another school year. Already, many school districts mandate vaccination for school faculty and staff members, and in California the requirement is statewide.

AND FINALLY:

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Remembering 911

 Remembering 911
By George Smith

Twenty years ago, September 11, 2001, I was in my second-floor office as editor and publisher of the Benton (AR) Courier when the small TV behind me blasted news about a plane hitting one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York.

A few minutes later, I watched in slack-jawed horror as a second plane hit the sister tower.

We called in all reporters early and set an aggressive agenda for covering this catastrophic event from the perspective of small town America. That day I reverted to my former role as writer/photographer and got photos and quotes from folks at a local furniture store who were queued up watching a bank of TVs as events developed.

I went to several local churches and sat with strangers and prayed for those who died and the survivors. We held hands and cried together.

I called family members and told them to fill up all cars and gas cans … because … well, just because.

My heart heavy, my head pounding, I drove several miles to an isolated spot on the bank of the Ouachita River and simply sat, looking at the slow-moving water; I watched a darting dragonfly and quietly cried while I prayed.

My grandparents and parents were long gone but I hugged them in my mind, knowing for the first time how they felt on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

I felt the same depths of dread and despair and uncertainty in 2001 that I am sure every American experienced on that day almost 80 years ago.

Heading back to town, I stopped to fill up just behind a biker in full “colors”. We nodded casually and, without really thinking, the corporate me walked over to him and opened my arms. We hugged for a bit longer than strangers normally do. We patted each other on the back, macho-style, and turned away to an uncertain future.

I wish I could reclaim that feeling of brotherhood I had that day for my fellow Americans…all Americans.

That feeling, the ability to reach out and hug strangers on a silent “everything is going to be okay” is sorely needed in this nation today.

Today, find a stranger and tell him or her to have a safe and peaceful day.

That message never gets old.

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Scottsville TX 75688

 Remembering 911 Twenty Years Later

By Ron Munden

9/11/2021

For the last nineteen years I have posted the 911 story that I wrote a few days after the planes struck New York and Washington.  As we reached the twenty-year point, I decided it was time to write about my feelings today — twenty years later.

Today’s perspective is Washington-centric.  I have spent very little time in New York but for 20 years I split my time between San Francisco and Washington DC.  During the late 1990s and 2000s, I spent many hours in the Pentagon on the Army’s portion of the “E” ring.  So, I know I passed the location where the third plane struck the Pentagon.

During the period of 1999 though the first six months of 2001. I worked for Booz Allen Hamilton on an Army project. I left the firm in June.  While working for BAH our project team met frequently with Army management in the Pentagon.  On 9/11 my boss, Dr. Jeep Fisher, and two other members of the team were meeting with an Army General in his office at “ground zero” for the plane impact.

In an exchange of emails over the next few days after “911” I learned that all three BAH employees meeting with the General were killed.

So, when I hear “911” my first thoughts don’t go to New York.  They go to the Pentagon because I have an attachment to the place and people directly impacted by the event.

As the United States completes its withdrawal from Afghanistan, I thought – Osama bin Laden achieved his objective.  The event pushed this country into a state of perpetual war and “911” has changed our country forever.  Osama never thought he could defeat the US, but he did feel he could change the way of life in our country.  “911” did that.

Looking back over the last 78 years, I can think of no event that changed the trajectory of the country more.  Sure, Vietnam was bad. It cost many young men their lives and we treated the returning military like shit — but that did not change the fabric of the country.  “911” did.

First, “911” caused people in the United States to decide they were willing to give up their personal freedoms and privacy in order the feel safe.

Second, Americans decided they were willing to send someone else’s son or daughter off to wage a perpetual war because it made them feel safe.

Third, in my opinion without “911” our country would never have invaded Iraq.  “911” allowed the neocons to convince Americans to invade a country and overthrow a government because that would make them feel safe.

“911” made us a warrior nation that fought wars but never won them.

I have one positive memory of “911”.  It brought the country together.  We bought flags.  We sang “God Bless America.” We hugged other Americans without regard to the color or their political party affiliation.

As one commentator said this morning, the country was more united on September 12, 2001, than it had been since World War II.  He went on to say the people of the country have spent the last 20 years destroying that unity.

Sadly, I believe he is right, and this country will never achieve that level of unity again.

The game score for “911”:  Osama bin Laden 1, United States 0

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CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 09/10/2021

Biden mandates vaccines for workers, saying, ‘Our patience is wearing thin.’

(J. Harris: Public Health mandates are occasionally necessary and usually have been effective; Polio and Small Pox are examples of diseases virtually eleminated by judicious and persistent vaccination programs — world wide. Mandated Covid vaccination is now imperative for public health protection against Covid-19. Covid vaccines are available, effective, and are SAFE — and they are necessary to control the Delta variant. As new variants come along, and likely they will, additional vaccinations will be scientifically crafted and utilized.)

FROM HOPKINS CITED ARTICLES:

1. Kids and COVID: Why Young Immune Systems Are Still on Top (Nature) For most other viruses, from influenza to respiratory syncytial virus, young children and older adults are typically the most vulnerable; the risk of bad outcomes by age can be represented by a U-shaped curve. But with COVID-19, the younger end of that curve is largely chopped off. The novelty of SARS-CoV-2 levelled the playing field, and showed that children are naturally better at controlling viral infections.

2. Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Influenza in Children, 2021–2022 (American Academy of Pediatrics) This statement updates recommendations for the routine use of influenza vaccine and antiviral medications in the prevention and treatment of influenza in children during the 2021–2022 influenza season. We recommend annual influenza immunization of all children without medical contraindications, starting at 6 months of age. Influenza vaccination is an important intervention to protect vulnerable populations and reduce the burden of respiratory illnesses during circulation of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, which is expected to continue during the 2021–2022 influenza season.

(J. Harris: Remember, we all need to get our flu shots this fall.)

FROM NEJM 8 SEPT:

1. Effectiveness of Covid-19 Vaccines in Ambulatory and Inpatient Care Settings

CONCLUSIONS

Covid-19 vaccines in the United States were highly effective against SARS-CoV-2 infection requiring hospitalization, ICU admission, or an emergency department or urgent care clinic visit. This vaccine effectiveness extended to populations that are disproportionately affected by SARS-CoV-2 infection.

2. Effect of Vaccination on Transmission of SARS-CoV-2

”…We provide empirical evidence suggesting that vaccination may reduce transmission by showing that vaccination of health care workers is associated with a decrease in documented cases of Covid-19 among members of their households. This finding is reassuring for health care workers and their families…”

(J. Harris: The correspondence related to the early immunization of Scottish health care workers is very reassuring to all vaccinated folks)

THE LAST TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL DATA IS DATED AUG. 29, 2021. NOTE STUDENT CASES ON THE LEFT, STAFF ON THE RIGHT

AND LAST BUT NOT LEASED:

(thank you G. C.)

For all of you with any money left or that do not know what to do with all of your government funds…. be READY for the next expected mergers so that you can get in on the ground floor and make some BIG bucks.

Watch for these consolidations in 2021:

1. Hale Business Systems, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Fuller Brush, and W. R. Grace Co. will merge and become: Hale, Mary, Fuller, Grace.

2. Polygram Records, Warner Bros., and Zesta Crackers join forces and become: Poly, Warner Cracker.

3. 3M will merge with Goodyear and become: MMMGood.

4. Zippo Manufacturing, Audi Motors, Dofasco, and Darco Mining will merge and become: ZipAudiDoDa.

5. FedEx is expected to join its competitor, UPS, and become: FedUP.

6. Fairchild Electronics and Honeywell Computers will become: Fairwell Honeychild.

7. Grey Poupon and Docker Pants are expected to become: PouponPants.

8. Knotts Berry Farm and the National Organization of Women will become: Knott NOW!

And finally….

9. Victoria ‘s Secret and Smith & Wesson will merge under the new name: TittyTittyBangBang

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CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 09/9/2021

GOOD NEWS:

EXCELLENT CALIFORNIA COVID SUMMARY: READABLE AND SURPRISING

(J. Harris: Interesting comparisons of the Covid situation in the various geographic areas of CA including the northernmost portions which are “the East Texas of California.”)

Scientists Find Genetic Link to Loss of Smell Among COVID-19 Patients

FROM HOPKINS SELECTIONS:

1. Characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 Infections in Israeli Children During the Circulation of Different SARS-CoV-2 Variants (JAMA Network Open) Since December 2020, the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 variant has been spreading in Israel, and by January or February 2021 it quickly became the predominant circulating strain; concomitantly, a mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign was launched. We compared the characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 spread in children in 2 periods when different variants were circulating. 

‘…These results demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 spread more effectively and more rapidly among young children during the time of B.1.1.7 [DELTA] variant circulation in Israel. Transmission rates from children aged 0 to 9 years to other contacts were doubled during the time of B.1.1.7 circulation in Israel. However, hospitalization rates among children decreased. The latter finding is supported by studies in adults reporting increased contagiousness of the B.1.1.7 strain but not necessarily with increased severity.”

2. Pediatric Cases Surge in U.S. as Students Head Back to School (Washington Post) It’s back-to-school week for many families in the United States — just as coronavirus cases surge among children and teens. Weekly pediatric coronavirus cases surpassed 250,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic, according to the most recent data published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Its data shows that more than a quarter of weekly reported coronavirus cases in the United States were among children for the week ending Sept. 2. And while most pediatric cases are not severe, nearly 2,400 children were hospitalized nationwide with covid-19 in the seven days ending Tuesday — more than ever before, according to data tracked by The Washington Post.

 The pandemic’s toll on educators has made Texas’ teacher shortage worse

AND LAST BUT NOT LEASED:

CAN’T GET UP TO VOTE?
YOU MAY HAVE ELECTILE DYSFUNCTION

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Pioneer Days Festival Big Success

 Pioneer Days Festival Big Success

9/8/2021

Jefferson’s Opera House Theatre Players pulled off a fantastic weekend

with the first annual Pioneer Days Festival event Sept .4-6.

Featured to kick off the 3-day Labor Day weekend for the public, was a parade that

had wagons, horseback riders, and walkers, all in costume of the pioneer days

(or close to it) as that marched in the sun on one of the hottest days of the

summer through the streets of downtown.  Winning the trophy and a gift certificate

from the Jefferson Nail and Spa was Evelyn Rene Matthews of Texarkana, Arkansas

dressed as an early Texas pioneer cowgirl. Other notables were Shawn and Demetrious 

Thurman in two separate wagons with passengers and a horse-back rider from Lodi, 

Larry Bearden & family on  horseback; the Bayou Trailblazers; walker Howard Blatch; 

and Jane Maddix, Sara Davis, Ann Leslie, and her granddaughter, Isabella.

Following the parade, a crowd gathered at 11:30 am for the re-enactment of one of

the town’s most infamous gunfights between the then Sheriff Will S. Terry and his

Deputy, Charlie Proctor.  It was held in the original location of the incident which

is the site of the old wagon yard from the days of the 1800s to the early 1900s.

KTAL-TV, Ch. 6 of Shreveport videoed the shoot-out and interviewed a number

of audience members.  The story aired later that night during the stations 10 pm

newscast.

At Noon, a singing pioneer in the person of Ann Leslie entertained in the Gazebo

at the park in downtown using her repertoire of original & old songs including “Home On

The Range”, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”, and “Comin ‘Round the Mountain”.  

At 6 pm, a western street dance was held on the east end of Austin Street until 8pm.

The band, Sheila and the Caddo Kats, played for the two-hour dance and an award

was presented to the group by the Opera House Theatre Players president, Marcia

Thomas, as the “Rising Star Award” for their exciting career accomplishments,

The thespian groups new season will begin their 33rd year of operation.  The band 

is featured in the new brochure produced by the Players and is currently being 

distributed.

On Sunday, a Barbeque Cook-Out with Entertainment was held on the riverfront

area that is owned and maintained by the Collins Institute.  The free food was

given to those who wandered up from the downtown area and entertainment

was provided by Johnny Riverrat, Ann Leslie and Riley Cox.

To complete the festival, a concert was given to a crowd of over 200 persons in

the Visitor Building.  Audience members gathered as early as 3 pm to get 

their seats for a 2-hr concert by the internationally famous Sons of the

Pioneers.  Visitors from as far away as Missouri, Wisconsin, Arkansas

and other states were obviously thrilled to get to hear one of the most

famous and favorite old-time cowboy singing groups in the world.  A

member of the group, Ken Larttimore of Marshall, welcomed all his Marshall

friends to the show and provided laughs as he told a few jokes about his

life at Marshall High School as a teacher of string instruments.

According to theatre board members, the Players were so pleased with 

the outcome of this first attempt that they are already thinking of what

they can put together for next year’s Pioneer Days weekend which will

occur in September of 2022.  Anyone wishing to join the group and work

with them on the idea as well as support the theatre organization may 

do so by filling out the information on the brochure and submitting a

membership. 

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