Sarah Beam, a Houston mom and teacher, made national headlines this week after she was accused of putting her COVID-19 positive son in the trunk of her car to avoid getting sick. Meanwhile, Houston and Harris County public health officials raised the threat level to severe Monday, January 10, 2022, the highest threat level available, as cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus spread rapidly throughout the area.
Public health officials also announced Friday, January 7, 2022, that Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots are now available for 12- to 15-year-old children and for children ages 11 to 15 with immunocompromised conditions. The booster shots became available January 8.
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Here’s what you need to know:
Houston & Harris County Are at a Red Alert Level as COVID-19 Cases Multiply
Public health officials are urging anyone who is not fully vaccinated to stay home, according to the COVID-19 data hub. Officials raised the threat level to Level 1: Severe Threat, following several weeks at Level 2: Significant Threat.
As of January 10, a total of 118,515 active cases were reported, and 6,801 total deaths were reported, the data shows. Last Monday, there were 67,491 active cases of the coronavirus and 6,758 deaths. In the last week, an additional 51,024 new cases were reported, or an increase of 43%. There were 43 deaths in the last week.
The updated guidance says:
Level 1 signifies a severe and uncontrolled level of COVID-19 in Harris County, meaning outbreaks are present and worsening, and public health capacity is strained or exceeded. At this level, unvaccinated residents should take action to minimize contact with others wherever possible and avoid leaving home except for the most essential needs like going to the grocery store for food and medicine. Unvaccinated individuals should continue to mask, physical distance, and avoid all gatherings. Vaccinated individuals should follow the latest local public health guidance on whether to also wear a mask while indoors, in public spaces, in crowded outdoor settings, and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.
A Mother Was Charged for Putting Her Son in Her Trunk to Protect Herself From COVID-19
Sarah Beam, 41, a teacher at Cypress Falls High School in the Cy-Fair Independent School District, is facing a felony child endangerment charge because officials allege she put her 13-year-old son in the trunk of her car after he tested positive for COVID-19, according to KHOU 11.
The news outlet reported that Beam was at a COVID-19 testing site and told an employee that her son was in the trunk. The employee confirmed the boy was in the trunk when Beam opened it, and the employee reported the incident to police, the news outlet reported.
Sgt. Richard Standifer with the Texas Department of Public Safety told KHOU 11 the boy was not hurt, but could have been injured if there was an accident because it is not possible to secure someone in the trunk of a car. Vehicles are also designed so that the front and back absorb more energy in a crash, making the trunk a dangerous part of the vehicle, he told KHOU 11.
The school district placed her on administrative leave, the news outlet reported. She was arrested on the charge Saturday, January 8, and released after posting $1,500 bail, according to ABC 13. ABC 13 reported that students were rallying around the teacher and placed posters and signs outside her home.