Was That a Cough? Going Back to the Movies in Texas.

I support what Texas is doing here. I hope it works out well. I doubt that it’s any more dangerous than going to the supermarket.



Was That a Cough? Going Back to the Movies in Texas.

May 3, 2020

SAN ANTONIO — It happened early inside the cool, darkened cineplex, before Vin Diesel even had a chance to turn superhuman, as people sat munching popcorn and sipping sodas in their plush recliner seats.

Someone coughed.

If anyone seated nearby was alarmed, no one showed it. The cough sounded muffled: The moviegoer was wearing a mask — part of the recommended etiquette of going to the movies in the middle of a pandemic.

On Saturday, three movie theaters in the San Antonio area became some of the first in the country to reopen, a move that worried some infectious-disease experts but was applauded by those who bought tickets and went to the show.

Santikos Entertainment opened three theaters, offering discounted prices, a limited food menu, workers in masks and greeters who opened doors as people entered, limiting contact with door handles.

The theaters were showing older releases for $5, and at the Palladium, in an upscale shopping center called the Rim, business was steady — low for a Saturday in May, but higher than what might be expected in a state still grappling with a coronavirus outbreak that has killed nearly 900 people, 48 of them in Bexar County, which includes San Antonio.

Texas took a big step out of its coronavirus lockdown Friday, allowing restaurants, malls, retail stores and some other businesses to resume operations, with strict limits on the number of patrons allowed inside.

Movie theaters, like restaurants, were allowed to seat only 25% of their listed capacity.

Grady McClung and his wife Rachel went to the 1:10 p.m. showing of the Christian movie “I Still Believe” at the Palladium, each wearing a mask.

“Yesterday was my birthday, so I got the first two tickets for the first opening of the first movie in the first movie theater,” said Grady McClung, 51, a project manager for a telecommunications company who lives in nearby Boerne. “There’s about 12 seats in a 150-seat auditorium. We’re well spaced out.”

To sit in a theater with dozens of strangers was a walk on the wild side of public health. But as the movies played and the plots thickened amid the crunch-crunch of patrons chewing popcorn, Hollywood was doing what it has done for decades: providing an escape, albeit masked and at a distance.

Grady McClung and others at the theater said that before buying their tickets they had researched the steps the company was taking to keep people safe and were satisfied that they were not putting themselves at risk. Going to the movies, some of them said, brought back a touch of much-needed normality after weeks under quarantine.

“If you feel like you have fear, then that’s perfectly fine, and you don’t go out,” Grady McClung said. “But other people need to get their lives back. We didn’t go to movies all the time. I mean, probably five or six a year. But this was something that was right for now.”

At the afternoon showing of the Vin Diesel action-adventure flick “Bloodshot,” moviegoers kept their distance, sitting two, three or four seats apart. Some wore masks, and others wore them in the lobby but took them off in the auditorium to eat popcorn.

In Row F, the company mistakenly put three guests in F1, F2 and F3, nearly elbow to elbow. F2 moved down to F7 to ensure social distancing.

Tim Handren, the chief executive of Santikos Entertainment, said the company was taking the safety of both employees and customers seriously and was going beyond the state’s health requirements.

“We are following, we believe, the best guidelines that we can to open safely,” Handren said in a YouTube message to the public.

Masks were recommended, but not required, for customers. In the lobby of the Palladium, a masked worker asked customers as they entered whether they or anyone they had been in contact with had experienced fever, chills or other symptoms in the past 14 days. Signs warned that if the answer was yes, they would not be allowed to enter and the cost of their tickets would be refunded.

Cashiers stood behind plexiglass shields. At least 75% of the seats in each auditorium were left unsold. Many doors were left open so people did not have to touch them. The arcade games were shut down, and no cash was accepted — those with cash exchanged their bills for gift cards.

“We’re trying to minimize the number of touch points, where you could be interacting with, touching, things that we don’t need you touching, or our employees,” Handren said in the video.

The company had asked employees if they were comfortable returning to work before reopening, Handren said, and “our employees have resoundingly said, ‘We want to come back.’” Santikos had furloughed employees and had kept its theaters closed for more than 40 days.

Handren said that the company would probably not make money off the low-capacity showings but that it recognized that people needed to get out of their houses and “just go somewhere else.”

That said, business was brisk: By the early evening, the Palladium had sold 800 tickets and was still getting walk-up customers.

Infectious-disease experts said they worried that the decision by Gov. Greg Abbott to include movie theaters in the first phase of the state’s partial reopening was risky.

“You’re not going to catch me at a theater any time soon,” said Dr. Diana Cervantes, an expert in infection prevention and control who is an assistant professor at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, a medical school in Fort Worth.

“When you think of what aids transmission, it is going to be the type of contact you have with the person who’s infected, the length of time, proximity — all of those factors come into play. The amount of time starts to be a little too prolonged for me to be sitting there with a bunch of strangers.”

Joe Garcia, 74, a retired military chaplain in a camouflage mask, said he had no health concerns. He printed out a copy of the theater’s safety procedures and brought it with him.

He and his family have a long-running tradition: Once a week, they bring his 41-year-old daughter, who has cerebral palsy, to the movies, one of her major social outings. The tradition had been put on hold during the coronavirus lockdown.

Garcia, his daughter and his other daughter, Karla Ross, 51, went to the 4:10 p.m. showing of “I Still Believe.”

It was the first time in six weeks that Garcia, who lives in Blanco, had seen Ross, who lives in San Antonio, because Garcia’s age makes him more vulnerable to the virus than others.

For their day back at the movies, he had no worries.

“We feel safe,” he said.

May 4, 2020. Tags: , , . COVID-19. Leave a comment.

If statewide lockdowns reduce deaths from COVID-19, then why is New York’s per capita death rate more than 50 times higher than Texas’s?

By Daniel Alman (aka Dan from Squirrel Hill)

April 8, 2020

You can see a list of U.S. states ranked in order by the number of COVID-19 deaths per 1 million population. Go to this link, and scroll down to the list of states. At the top of the list, click where it says “Deaths /1M pop.” Then click on it a second time: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/

In addition, here is a map that shows which states have a statewide lockdown, and which do not. Source: https://www.indy100.com/article/coronavirus-lockdown-us-cases-map-stay-home-order-9443151

Looking at these two things, we should be able to see whether nor not statewide lockdowns actually helped to save lives.

New York has a statewide lockdown, and has had 319 deaths per 1 million population.

Texas has not had a statewide lockedown, but its death rate has only been 6 per 1 million people.

So even though New York has a statewide lockdown, and Texas does not, New York’s per capita death rate is actually more than 50 times higher than Texas’s.

What is the explanation for this?

Note: Edited to add the following: People are commenting about differences in population density. My response to this is to point out that of the 13 most heavily populated U.S. cities, five of them are in Texas. Source for image: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_United_States_cities_by_population&oldid=949701887

List of United States cities by population

13 cities

Note from Daniel Alman: If you like this blog post that I wrote, you can buy my books from amazon, and/or donate to me via PayPal, using the links below:

amazon logo

April 8, 2020. Tags: , , , , , . COVID-19, Health care. 14 comments.

Video: When some idiot tried to carry out a mass shooting at a church in Texas, several other people immediately pulled out their own guns and stopped him. We’ll never know how many lives they saved.

I live in Squirrel Hill, where 11 innocent people were shot and killed at a synagogue last year.

In Texas, just today, when some idiot tried to carry out a mass shooting at a church, several other people immediately pulled out their own guns and stopped him.

It’s a good thing that it’s legal for law abiding citizens to carry guns in churches in Texas.

We’ll never know how many lives they saved.

Here’s a link to a video of the incident:


And here’s an article about it from CNN:


Suspect shoots and kills 2 inside a Texas church before parishioners fatally shoot him

December 29, 2019

A man shot and killed two people during a church service in White Settlement, Texas, on Sunday before two members of the church security team shot and killed him, authorities said.

City Police Chief J.P. Bevering said it appeared the shooter walked into West Freeway Church of Christ and sat down in the sanctuary, then stood, pulled out a shotgun and shot two parishioners.

“There was a security team inside the church and they eliminated the threat,” Bevering said.

Bevering praised the churchgoers who returned fire and killed the suspect as “heroic” and said there is no ongoing threat.

Matthew DeSarno, the FBI agent in charge of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, said the motive is unknown, and nobody knows yet whether the shooter targeted the victims. DeSarno said the investigation will determine whether the shooter was driven by any sort of ideology.

He didn’t identify the shooter, but said he was “relatively transient with roots to this area” and had been arrested multiple times in different municipalities.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the incident was over within six seconds.

“This church has its own security team,” he said. “They were well trained. The heroism today is unparalleled. … Two of the parishioners who are volunteers on the security force drew their weapons and took out the killer immediately, saving untold number of lives.”

Video shows the shooting

A video livestream from the church, seen by CNN, appears to show how the shooting unfolded. The entire incident, from the time the shooter pulled out his gun until he was shot, took six seconds.

Lisa Farmer, the wife of the West Freeway Church of Christ Minister Britt Farmer, was not inside the church at the time of the shooting but said the video shows the inside of the church building.

The video, obtained by CNN affiliate KTVT, shows the shooter seated in a pew toward the rear of the church during the service. The shooter, dressed in dark clothes, approaches someone in the back corner and appears to talk to them. That individual gestures toward the center of the church.

The shooter pulled out a long gun and opened fire on the man before shooting a second man.

It appears that a man, toward the left of the screen, draws a handgun and fires. The shooter falls to the ground immediately. Three muzzle flashes are seen on the video.

The YouTube video has since been made private.

‘It was so chaotic’

The shooting happened during communion, Lisa Farmer told CNN.

“It was so chaotic,” she said. “I think all the congregation is being held inside, all being held for questioning.”

The church normally has around 280 people attending Sunday services, she said. She didn’t identify the congregant who died but described him as a close friend “who would do anything for anybody that he could. Good guy. He’s been there for us through thick and thin.”

Video of the scene from CNN affiliate KTVT showed several agencies present — including Fort Worth Police, Fort Worth Fire Department and MedStar EMS. Several people could be seen outside the church, which was roped off with yellow police tape.

Guns are legal in Texas churches

The shooting comes more than two years after a gunman opened fire at a church in Sutherland Springs — a community about 300 miles away from White Settlement — killing at least 26 people.

After the Sutherland Springs shooting, the state loosened its gun laws to allow churchgoers to carry firearms into houses of worship.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott offered his condolences in the wake of the shooting.

Police got a call just before 10 a.m. about people with gunshot wounds at the church.

“Our hearts go out to the victims and families of those killed in the evil act of violence that occurred at the West Freeway Church of Christ,” he said.

“Places of worship are meant to be sacred, and I am grateful for the church members who acted quickly to take down the shooter and help prevent further loss of life.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was “shocked and saddened” to hear about the shooting.

“As reports come in, please pray for any victims and their families, this congregation, and the law enforcement officials at the scene. My office will assist in any way needed,” he said.

December 29, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Guns. Leave a comment.

19-year-old saves child from dog attack


July 26, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Animals, Kindness. Leave a comment.

Texas school expels 13-year-old because he stood up to a bully

ABC News reports:

October 16, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . Education. 1 comment.