Thank you for all the well wishes after my first “Capital Highlights” column last week. I also appreciate the emails suggesting topics of high interest.
Agriculture, oil, education and health care top the list so far, but please keep the conversation going about what’s happening in your corner of our big state and what is of highest interest to you.
One editor emailed to say he was highly concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes in his community. The data at the Texas Department of State Health Services for his county is about two weeks old, he said, even though the state website promises daily updates.
Last week, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission released its first list of COVID-19 cases and deaths with details about individual Texas nursing homes. The initial release showed nursing homes accounted for about one-third of Texas’ COVID-19 deaths and the number of cases in the health care facilities had more than doubled during July.
In July, Texas reported 3,315 COVID-19 deaths and 252,884 cases. Both totals were more than all other months of the pandemic combined.
Don’t plant those mystery seeds
Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller urged Texans to take extreme precaution if the mail brings mysterious seeds from China.
The packets, mailed to multiple states, including Texas, are falsely labeled as jewelry. The seeds could contain harmful invasive species or be otherwise unsafe. The mailings could be part of an online scam to bolster product ratings, Miller said.
People shouldn’t throw away the packets because the seeds could grow in the landfill. Instead, email SITC.Mail@aphis.usda.gov for more information.
In an interview with the Texas Tribune, Miller planted more seeds of doubt about China.
“I’m getting sick and tired of these surprises coming out of China,” Miller told the Tribune. “First, it was a China virus, then it was murder hornets. Then we had closed down their embassy because of espionage and spying. And now we, you know, we’ve got all these mysterious seeds.”