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Post-Harvey Legal Aid, E. Coli Outbreak Linked To Romaine Lettuce, Restoration Grants From BP’s 2010 Oil Spill, And More

These are some of the stories Houston Public Media is covering.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Top afternoon stories:

A rescue done by volunteers at the Lakewood Forest subdivision, located in northwest Houston, on Aug. 28, 2017.
Alvaro 'Al' Ortiz/Houston Public Media
Rescue operation in northwest Houston on Aug. 28, 2017.

Post-Harvey Legal Aid

A new $4 million program is funding 20 Houston-based legal fellows to provide aid after Harvey.

Fellows will serve two-year terms in the Equal Justice Works Disaster Recovery Legal Corps (DRLC) to assist groups facing additional barriers to disaster recovery.

Immigrant communities in Houston are among those benefiting from aid. Some DRLC fellows are working with immigrant and mixed-status families to help with legal matters, like recovering wages after not getting paid for a Harvey-related repair.

A Kaiser Family Foundation report found immigrants are more likely to experience job and wage loss after Harvey and less likely to apply for disaster assistance.

FILE - This Jan. 24, 2012, file photo shows a Caesar salad with romaine lettuce. Food regulators are urging Americans not to eat any romaine lettuce because of a new food poisoning outbreak. The FDA says it's investigating an E. coli outbreak that has sickened over two dozen people in several states. The FDA says it's working with officials in Canada, where officials are also warning against romaine lettuce. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead, File)
Matthew Mead/AP File
Food regulators are urging Americans not to eat any romaine lettuce.

E. Coli Outbreak Linked To Romaine Lettuce

Health officials in the U.S. and Canada on Tuesday told people to avoid eating romaine lettuce because of a new E. coli outbreak.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it was working with officials in Canada on the outbreak, which has sickened 32 people in 11 states in the U.S. and 18 people in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

The strain identified is different than the one linked to romaine earlier this year , but it appears similar to one linked to leafy greens last year.

No deaths have been reported, but 13 of the people who became sick in the U.S. were hospitalized. The last reported illness was on Oct. 31.

Experts say washing lettuce won't ensure that contaminated lettuce is safe.

FILE - In this April 21, 2010, aerial file photo, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns in the Gulf of Mexico, more than 50 miles southeast of Venice on Louisiana's tip. Environmental activists Karen Savage and Cherri Foytlin wrote an article criticizing a company that published a study finding no connection between chemicals released by the explosion and health problems reported by some cleanup workers. Massachusetts' highest court will hear arguments Oct. 7, 2016, in a bid by Savage and Foytlin to throw out a defamation lawsuit filed by the company, siting a state law that protects citizens exercising their free speech rights. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
Gerald Herbert/AP File
The Deepwater Horizon oil rig burned in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.

Restoration Grants From BP's 2010 Oil Spill

Four Gulf states will receive another $280 million in restoration grants from the BP oil spill of 2010. Texas will get $19 million, including $6 million to protect some 575 acres of coastal habitat.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation said that Louisiana –which suffered the worst damage– is getting about $161 million to restore barrier islands.

Alabama and Florida are the other states receiving money.

The money is from criminal damages paid by BP PLC and drilling company Transocean Deepwater Inc.

The grants announced this week are the sixth round and bring the total so far to $1.3 billion.

CDC Task Force On Acute Flaccid Myelitis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created a task force to boost the research on a polio-like condition that is affecting several states, including Texas.

The condition is known as Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) and it affects a person's nervous system, specifically, the spinal cord, causing weakness in one or more limbs.

As of November 6, there were 17 cases in Texas, one of them in Harris County, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The task force will be formed by experts from a variety of scientific, medical, and public health disciplines. It is scheduled to submit its first report at a public meeting of the Board of Scientific Counselors that will held December 6 in Atlanta.