Houston Woman Wire

NEWS Nonprofits collaborate to donate N95 masks and other PPE

Houston Habitat for Humanity, Houston Community ToolBank, Houston Responds and 13 other nonprofits have collected and distributed over 19,700 items of personal protective equipment (PPE) to area hospitals.

Since 2015, the Houston Community ToolBank has been working with nonprofits all across the region to help with community projects and events, lending out tools to organizations working on projects of all sizes. As a hub of the nonprofit community, the ToolBank saw an opportunity and reached out to over 400 area nonprofits to ask for donations of PPE to be disbursed to area hospitals.

“As members of a community that is frequently on the front lines of disaster relief efforts, we knew that our partners keep numerous PPE items on hand,” Erika Hornsey, executive director of the ToolBank explained. “Once we understood how bad the situation at local hospitals was, we knew we had to try to do something.”

Last Saturday, the collection efforts began with posts on Facebook and emails to the ToolBank’s members. Soon, other nonprofits became involved. Allison Hay from Houston Habitat for Humanity helped to spread the world amongst the Harvey focused Long Term Recovery Committee and the Houston Housing Working Group. Houston Responds, a nonprofit that oversees coalitions of churches usually working on natural disaster response and recovery, organized drivers to pick up and deliver collected items. The ToolBank’s After Hours container, a modified shipping container with 4 rooms and smart locks, allowed items to be dropped off and picked up with no human contact between drivers.

Within 72 hours, over 19,700 PPE items were collected and distributed to 13 area hospitals and clinics. The number of items collected and distributed are as follows as of today: 13,334 N95 masks, 5,635 eye protectors, 571 Tyvek suits, 48 boot covers and 12 face shields.

About Houston Community ToolBank
The Houston Community ToolBank serves community-based organizations by providing tools, equipment & expertise to empower their most ambitious goals. Since opening our doors in late 2014, the ToolBank has consistently increased our member organizations’ capacity to make a difference.

About Houston Habitat for Humanity
Since 1987, individuals, businesses and groups in our community have joined Houston Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place people call home. Through shelter, Houston Habitat for Humanity empowers people to build a better future for themselves and their families by completing financial and home maintenance training, building homes alongside volunteers, and by purchasing their homes with an affordable mortgage.

About Houston Responds
Houston Responds unites, empowers and mobilizes churches across Greater Houston to expedite long-term recovery and respond to future disasters. Since their founding post-Hurricane Harvey, Houston Responds has launched and supported 12+ coalitions of local churches, each with 20+ churches in their network.


NEWS Houston Health Department reports two new COVID-19 cases

The Houston Health Department announced two new positive coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases on Thursday, bringing the city's total to 68.

Investigations conducted by the department will identify potential contacts exposed to the virus. The department will provide close contacts guidance about the virus and monitor them for the development of symptoms.

Social distancing guidance for all Houstonians:

  • Avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet of separation from other people.
  • Avoid eating or drinking in bars, restaurants, and food courts – use drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options.
  • Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits.
  • Do not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical care situations.
  • Work or engage in schooling from home whenever possible.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer when you can't wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, use the elbow of your sleeve.
  • Don’t use your hands to cover coughs and sneezes.
  • void close contact with people who are sick, especially if you are at higher risk for coronavirus.
  • Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy foods, and manage your stress to keep your immunity strong.

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  • Respiratory droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing.
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands.
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Houstonians may visit HoustonEmergency.org/covid19 for updated information about local risk, routine protective actions, frequently asked questions, communication resources, rumor control, emergency preparedness tips and more.

NEWS HCC to manufacture protective face masks for local hospitals

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo on Thursday approved a waiver that will allow Houston Community College to use high-capacity 3D printing labs to produce mass quantities of protective face shields while operating as “Essential Critical Infrastructure.” The shields will assist M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Hermann Health System and Baylor College of Medicine.

“Medical workers are on the front lines and we need to protect them,” Judge Hidalgo said. “These are extraordinary times that require all of us to think creatively and offer up our resources, and I commend HCC for seeing this as an opportunity to help our hospital system fill a critical need.”

The Memorial Hermann Health System currently has access to 600 face shields per day using TX/RX Labs, a local nonprofit Makerspace that produces personal protective equipment. HCC has two facilities that can provide high-capacity production of protective face shields while requiring minimal staff supervision: 

  • The IDEAStudio at West Houston Institute, capacity: 32 printers, each can produce 600 face shields per day

  • The Advanced Manufacturing Center at HCC’s Stafford Campus: 30 printers, each can produce 600 face shields per day

Once fully operational, the HCC sites in partnership with TX/RX Labs could produce more than 30,000 face shields per day while requiring no more than two qualified staff members at each location. 

Hidalgo issued a mandatory Stay Home-Work Safe order for Harris County on Tuesday, closing non-essential businesses through April 3 in an effort to preserve public health and safety. Manufacturers of ventilators, personal protective equipment, or other medical supplies and equipment necessary for the COVID-19 response may apply for an “Essential Business” exemption.

NEWS Court of Appeals affirms city's historic preservation ordinance

The Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas today affirmed the decision of the trial court that the city’s historic preservation ordinance (HPO) did not violate the ciity charter’s prohibition against zoning or the state’s Zoning Enabling Act.
In 1995, City Council adopted the HPO, which provides for the creation of historic districts and requires property owners in those designated districts to apply for “certificates of appropriateness” before demolishing, modifying, or developing property in a historic district. The law was amended in 2010 to eliminate the waivers that were available under the 1995 law and its amendments.
In 2014, homeowners in Heights East, a designated historic district, filed suit to have the HPO declared void and unenforceable as prohibited zoning. After hearing all of the evidence at a bench trial, the trial court rendered judgment in favor of the City. The homeowners reasserted their claims on appeal. The court of appeals rejected them as well, holding that the HPO does not create regulations based on geographic district, as zoning does, but on the historic significance of a small number of neighborhoods.
“This decision reaffirms the City’s rights as a home-rule city to protect its precious heritage,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

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