Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Together We Will Persevere

In a matter of weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives, but we still carry our oath to keep our residents safe. My team knows the risk of getting the virus is high but that doesn’t stop us. Our priority is to protect and serve our community.

The inevitable fact is that we are not immune and we are impacted like everyone else. Unfortunately, we have 14 teammates who have received positive test results for COVID-19. I am deeply concern as more first responders are getting infected in our region and I pray for their prompt recovery.

Within the last week, three Harris County Jail inmates tested positive for COVID-19. My team and I are doing our best to implement procedures to protect our staff and inmates, but unfortunately, no environment is immune.

This week, we received an order from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo mandating the temporary release of a narrow group of inmates with no history of violence. To be eligible for temporary release, an inmate must be charged with — but not yet convicted of — a crime that doesn’t involve violence or the threat of violence. Those charged with burglarizing homes or habitual drunk driving will be ineligible as well. The measures we are taking today will benefit both public health and public safety in our county.

To help reduce person-to-person contact with our residents during the COVID-19 pandemic we assigned more deputies to take non-emergency crime reports over the phone. Please watch the video below or click here.

File a report:

Staying Home, Safe, and Healthy

Harris County, we made it through another week. And now more than ever, we need to be united as a community and follow the Stay Home/Work Safe order, which was extended through the end of April. Stay informed with the latest COVID-19 data from the county with the Harris County Public Health dashboard.

I implore all of you to stay home and continue to enforce social distancing to help ‘flatten the curve’. We need to stop putting at risk the lives of the most vulnerable. I know that we will get through this, one day at a time because we are stronger together.

April marks the start of Stress Awareness Month and some of you might be facing unprecedented levels of stress as we navigate the impacts of the pandemic. Our psychologist, Dr. Robert Seals, shared a few tips — from Dr. Eileen Feliciano, a clinical psychologist at New York State — to help manage and reduce stress during this time.

Mental Health Wellness Tips for Quarantine:

  • Stick to a routine
  • Dress for the social life you want, not the social life you have
  • Be active for at least thirty minutes per day
  • Reach out to your friends and family
  • Stay hydrated and eat well
  • Spend extra time playing with your children
  • Limit social media use
  • Notice the good in the world
  • Help others, if you can. Reach out for help, if you need it
  • Find a long-term project to dive into
  • Find lightness and humor in each day
  • Remind yourself daily that this is temporary

Even with heightened levels of concern surrounding the pandemic, try to maximize value out of every day. Remember, small things can make a difference.

We created this newsletter to keep you informed. And to our community, thank you for subscribing — within the last month, we have almost double the number of subscribers. Your readership and support mean a lot to us as we continue to serve and protect you. God bless all of you, and God bless the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

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COVID-19 Update – Please Bag All Trash

Currently trash & recycle services will continue as normal.

Please refrain from generating additional heavy trash, such as cleaning garages, closets, extra yard work, etc. Due to extra volumes, trash is extremely heavy and our routes are running later than normal. Please be patient as we are doing our best to get all trash collected.

In response to the continuing effects of the Coronavirus and in observance of our employee’s safety, we are asking that all waste be placed in plastic bags and tied off to avoid any need for direct contact with the garbage.

Please continue to place your recycling loose in your container. Please break down all boxes and reduce in size as much as possible. If you exceed the capacity of the container, please bag and place with trash. However, if anyone in your household is exhibiting symptoms of any transmissible illness, please place recyclables in plastic bags and dispose of with your regular garbage.

Please do not call the office. Go to website www.best-trash.com for updates or contact customerservice@besttrashtexas.com.

Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – We Are Stronger Together!

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our deputies, detention officers, and support staff are working around the clock to ensure our residents remain safe. But it’s extremely challenging for us to do our job without potentially being exposed to the virus. The reality is that we are not immune. Within the last week, seven teammates — six deputies and one civilian clerk — tested positive for coronavirus. Please join me in praying for a speedy, full recovery.

We are working with Harris County Public Health to identify co-workers, inmates, and members of the public who may have had close contact with the diagnosed employees so they can take necessary precautions, including a quarantine and testing those with symptoms.

This week, the county’s Stay Home, Work Safe Order was implemented, and our primary goal is to encourage voluntary compliance. In the overwhelming number of cases, a warning is all it takes to inspire compliance. Violators who ignore warnings can face possible fines and arrest for those who put our community at risk. Let’s not let it come to that. We are all in this together. Please stay home for us!

Stay Home, Work Safe Order

As our agency moves forward with enforcement of the county’s Stay Home, Work Safe order, we want you to know some important information.

Mental Health

Launched in 2017 with an eye toward the future, our telehealth program has been a game-changer and proved timely during this pandemic. COVID-19 has inspired stress throughout the nation, especially among our first responders. Our Clinician and Officer Remote Evaluation Program (CORE) offers direct access to a master’s level mental health clinician from The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, via teleconferencing technology through an iPad. This allows patrol deputies to better assess mental health consumers out in the field in an attempt to reduce transports and hospitalizations.

We are equipping 100 deputies, including our Field Training Officers, with this technology. Deputies are currently being trained to assist them during this pandemic. We are training three to five deputies at a time, by the end of next week the training will be completed. Please remember, if you are in a mental health crisis, please know that you’re not alone, help is always available. Call 911 or 713-221-6000.

Today, we welcomed 21 new teammates into our family. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our Basic County Corrections Course graduation ceremony was canceled but we did have a private small gathering for our new teammates. Now they are ready to serve our community. I wish all of you the best, and I know that you will be mentored by the best leaders and teammates. Serve with honor, and live up to the words on your patch, Pride of Texas.

We know our residents understand the severity of the pandemic. And everyone is doing all they can to keep themselves, their families and neighbors safe and healthy. The sacrifices you’re making are not in vain. We are stronger together! God bless you, and God bless the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

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Disinfecting Wipes are Being Flushed Down Toilets and Causing Major Pipe Problems

https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/20/us/wipes-flush-toilet-pipes-wellness-trnd/index.html

(CNN) Disinfecting wipes are helping people combat the spreading of germs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But some experts say the wipes, arguably the supply that’s been used to clean surfaces in homes the most, are harming sewers.

Why? Because people are flushing wipes down toilets, rather than dumping them in the trash.

Now, public agencies around the nation are urging people to solely throw their wipes in the trash, warning that not doing so could cause blockages and damage to sewer systems.

Wipes cause sewage issues

Facilities across California have already reported issues with their sewer collection systems, the state’s Water Resources Control Board said.

Many cities in California use centralized sewage collection systems that rely on gravity and water flow to move along waste, according to regulators. Toilet paper dissolves in those systems, where as wipes and paper towels don’t break down so easily.

“Flushing wipes, paper towels and similar products down toilets will clog sewers and cause backups and overflows at wastewater treatment facilities, creating an additional public health risk in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic,” the state’s Water Resources Control Board said in a news release.

Other state agencies across the country — including the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, the Lawrence Department of Public Works in Massachusetts and the Charleston Water System in South Carolina — have issued similar warnings.

Not even ‘flushable’ wipes are safe, some officials say

A shortage in toilet paper due to panic buying could mean that people have turned to using flushable wipes. But some water professionals caution that “flushable wipes,” and disinfecting wipes in general, aren’t really flushable.

Wipes can cause damage to sewer systems and equipment even if they are labeled “flushable” or “septic-safe,” according to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.

Many wipes are made of synthetic materials. These materials, when combined with other personal hygiene products that are flushed and grease that is poured down drains, create what waste workers refer to as “fatbergs” in sewers.

“When a product is labeled ‘flushable’ it generally means that it will clear your toilet bowl,” the department states on its website. “It does not mean it will definitely clear your pipes or break down in the sewer system or at a wastewater treatment plant.”

The Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, a global trade association that includes major manufacturers of flushable wipes, argues that flushable wipes don’t pose a danger to sewage systems.

The organization released guidelines in 2018 that detail what criteria wipes should meet to be labeled as “flushable.” If the wipes pass the test, they’re safe to go down septic systems.

Other organizations have more stringent flushability standards. According to the International Water Services Flushability Group, an organization that represents water professionals, wipes have to meet three main criteria to be considered flushable. They must:

  • Break into small pieces quickly.
  • Not be buoyant.
  • Only contain ingredients that will readily degrade in natural environments.

But because people often flush all kind of wipes, it’s hard to determine whether “flushable wipes” are indeed safe.

Given the concerns of many wastewater treatment plants at the moment, it’s probably wise to heed this advice: Save your pipes. Don’t flush wipes.