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Montgomery County testing mosquitoes for West Nile virus after death

Following the confirmation of a West Nile virus related death and Montgomery County’s second possible case, the Precinct 3 Mosquito Abatement Team is on high alert as they continue to test mosquito samples.

On Friday, the Montgomery County Public Health District announced the death of a man in his 70s who lived in the 77381 ZIP code. While the man did have other medical conditions but the death was classified as a probable West Nile virus case. A woman in her 60s who lives in the 77382 ZIP code has been confirmed as the second case.

At this time in 2019, the county had no cases of West Nile virus, health officials said.


Cody Grimes, manager of projects and logistics for the Precinct 3 office, said the announcement of the death and second case did not prompt spraying in those ZIP codes. Grimes explained that due to the time to get the confirmation on the cases, crews had already responded to those ZIP codes when the mosquito sample returned positive.

He noted currently there are no West Nile positive samples in South County.

“We do spray when we get positive mosquito samples,” Grimes said, adding mosquito season is winding down. “There hasn’t been anything abnormal this year.”

West Nile virus can cause serious disease and is commonly spread by infected mosquitoes, according to MCPHD. People typically develop symptoms between three and 14 days after they are bitten. According to the CDC, approximately 80 percent of people who are infected will not show any symptoms at all.

Milder symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and, sometimes, swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. These symptoms can last up to several weeks. Serious symptoms that account for less than 1 percent of those infected can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures or paralysis. These symptoms can last for several weeks and neurological effects may be permanent.

Anyone who develops symptoms of severe West Nile virus illness, such as unusually severe headaches or confusion, should seek medical attention immediately. However, the majority of milder illnesses improve on their own.

According to the CDC, the most effective way to avoid West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites. Avoid bites by using insect repellants, wearing protective clothing when outdoors and emptying standing water outside of your home.

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Montgomery County adds 3 COVID-related deaths as total now 154

Montgomery County COVID-19 cases pushed passed 14,000 Thursday as public health officials confirmed three more deaths related to the virus.

The total number of cases is now 14,076. To date, 8,905 people have fully recovered.

According to the Montgomery County Public Health District, the county added 19 to its active case count to bring the total to 2,320. The reason for the difference in the new cases and active cases is the health district is continuing to process cases that were reported to The Department of State Health Services directly by health care providers and entered into the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System.

The deaths include a Spring man in his 50s who died at home; a Montgomery man in his 70s who was hospitalized at the time of his death; and a Magnolia man in his 70s who was also hospitalized at the time of his death. All three men had other health conditions in addition to testing positive for COVID-19.

The three deaths bring the county’s total to 154.


As for total hospitalizations, both county and noncounty residents, those totals increased by three to 68 with 20 of those patients in critical care beds.

Online registration is still available for COVID-19 testing in Montgomery County. To get a voucher, go to mchd-tx.org or mcphd-tx.org and click on the “need to be tested” link. Fill out the information. A voucher will be emailed. Once you have the voucher, make an appointment at your choice of testing centers and get tested.

Call the MCHD/MCPHD COVID-19 Call Center at 936-523-3916 for more information.

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For Sixth Consecutive Day, COVID Cases In Montgomery Co. Top 100

BETHESDA, MD — Montgomery County added 134 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, the sixth day in a row with more than 100 cases.

The addition pushes the local total to 25,281 — and it’s giving health officials pause as they cautiously plan their next steps.

The county, which is currently in phase two of its pandemic recovery plan, has typically reopened at a slower rate than the rest of the state due to higher COVID-19 numbers. Health officials say the county will not enter phase three until they see low and medium transmission levels — or 10 to 35 cases a day. Over the last three months, daily COVID-19 cases have hovered between 47 and 171.

The county’s head of emergency management, Earl Stoddard, recently said the county planned to issue an amended executive order that would lift restrictions on escape rooms, live performances, and youth sports activities. But they put the changes on hold as they investigate the recent uptick in cases.

Despite seeing an increase in cases, Stoddard said the county won’t be imposing more phase two restrictions — at least just yet. If the upticks persist for a few more weeks, he said officials will seriously consider rollbacks.

Unlike case totals, the number of people dying daily from COVID-19 in recent months has been between zero and five.

On Monday, the county did not record any new deaths. The death toll remains at 827.

The latest fatality count does not include the 40 others whose deaths were linked to the virus, but never confirmed by a lab test. For now, they are considered “probable deaths.”

Montgomery County has the second highest number of deaths and cases in the state, after Prince George’s County, which has 830 fatalities and 32,292 infections, according to the latest figures.

Across Maryland, there have been 140,844 cases, 3,953 confirmed deaths, and 146 “probable deaths.” Of the 456 people that are currently hospitalized, 112 are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

This article originally appeared on the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Patch

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Montgomery County’s active COVID-19 cases pushes past 2,200

Online registration is still available for COVID-19 testing in Montgomery County. To get a voucher, go to mchd-tx.org or mcphd-tx.org and click on the

Online registration is still available for COVID-19 testing in Montgomery County. To get a voucher, go to mchd-tx.org or mcphd-tx.org and click on the “need to be tested” link. Fill out the information. A voucher will be emailed. Once you have the voucher, make an appointment at your choice of testing centers and get tested.

Jason Fochtman, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

Montgomery County added 66 new active COVID-19 cases Friday, bumping the county’s active total over 2,200.

Overall, the county logged 139 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 13,575 with 2,206 active.

The reason for the difference in the new cases and active cases is the Montgomery County Public Health District is continuing to process cases that were reported to the Department of State Health Services directly by health care providers and entered into the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System.

As for total hospitalizations, both county and noncounty residents, decreased five to 56 with 14 of those patients in critical care beds.

The total number of COVID-19-related deaths remained at 147.

Online registration is still available for COVID-19 testing in Montgomery County.

To request a voucher, go to mchd-tx.org or mcphd-tx.org and click on the “need to be tested” link and fill out the information. A voucher will be emailed and once you have the voucher, make an appointment at a testing center.


Call the county’s COVID Call Center at 936-523-3916 for more information.

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Ex-doctor whose patient killed Montgomery family in wreck sentenced to 7 years for fraud

A former doctor was recently sentenced to federal prison on fraud charges he incurred after a prescription patient of his high on medication fatally crashed into a family of four driving home from church in Conroe.

Rezik A. Saqer, 66, of Houston, was sentenced to seven years on Oct. 9 by Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal of the Southern District of Texas. Rosenthal ordered Saqer to pay $5 million in restitution for fraudulently billing health care programs.

In early July 2019, Saqer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Saqer, according to an Oct. 9 release from the U.S. Department of Justice, was a physician and anesthesiologist at Texas Pain Solutions and Integra Medical Clinic.


Saqer’s patient, Ronald Evan Cooper, 73, of Montgomery, was sentenced to 80 years in prison in May 2017 for intoxication manslaughter. Cooper fatally struck with his car Roland Sedlmeier, 49, Melinda Sedlmeier, 42, Harley, 6, and Sofie, 4, as the family departed Sunday church service Sept. 20, 2015 on Texas 105.

Evidence presented at Saqer’s sentencing showed he had patients submit to “unnecessary and dangerous” procedures and tests as performed by his unlicensed staff and then billed them to health care providers as if he had carried out the work, the District Attorney’s office stated.

Health care providers were fraudulently billed more than $14.6 million by Saquer, according to the DOJ press release.

Additionally, “Saqer’s scheme contributed to multiple overdose deaths,” read a statement from the DA’s Office.

Citing an interest in not conflicting with Saqer’s prosecution in federal court, the District Attorney’s Office dismissed six murder charges the former doctor was facing and a seventh felony charge. These seven charges resulted from the prosecution of Cooper, according to the DA’s office.

Between March 2014 and September 2015, five of Saqer’s patients allegedly died as a result of him furnishing them drugs knowing they were substance abusers. A sixth murder charge alleged a patient in 2011 died after Saqer had an unlicensed person furnish “nontherapeutic” drugs, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The other dismissed charge was for a first-degree organized criminal activity felony for allegedly billing insurance companies for services not rendered in the span of five years, the affidavit showed.

The charges for which Saqer was sentenced resulted from work on the case against him as led by Assistant DA Tamara Holland, along with the Texas Department of Insurance and the Conroe Police Department, the DA’s Office stated.

“I want to thank all of the many people who worked so hard to obtain this outcome. There were endless hours spent on this case by a significant number of investigators and prosecutors, all to ensure Dr. Saqer finally met justice for his dangerous scheme,” Holland said in a statement.

District Attorney Brett Ligon spoke on the impact the Sedlmeier crash had on his office.

“I am proud to have our office work in close cooperation with multiple state and federal agencies, to investigate a case that has affected our community

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Montgomery County weighs added coronavirus restrictions as infections increase

If numbers continue to increase, the county could reinstate restrictions that were lifted in recent months. The seven-day average in new cases recently has exceeded 10 new infections per 100,000 residents.

“It’s not a good place to be,” Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) said during a news conference Wednesday.

Contact tracers have found that the virus is spreading at social gatherings, including those among family members, and at religious institutions, officials said.

County health officer Travis Gayles urged residents not to “let their guard down” with physical distancing or mask-wearing when gathering with relatives or close friends.

Recent data also shows that an increase in young residents testing positive has plateaued, giving way to a slight uptick in older adults contracting the virus. The trend “gives us pause,” Gayles said, since older adults are susceptible to more serious effects of the virus.

Nursing homes, however, have not seen a resurgence of the virus, he said.

“We don’t want to walk anything back,” Gayles said. “[But] if the numbers don’t improve … we’ll likely need to have closures.”

While the county has seen a slight rise in infections, the number of new cases across Maryland, Virginia and D.C. has ticked downward for about a week.

The greater Washington region on Wednesday recorded 1,563 new coronavirus cases and 38 additional deaths. Virginia added 1,018 new cases and 30 deaths, Maryland added 492 cases and eight deaths, and D.C. added 53 cases and no deaths.

The rolling seven-day average of new infections across the region stood at 1,692 cases on Wednesday. That’s down from a recent peak of 1,801 average daily cases on Oct. 14.

The number of new reported fatalities across the region tied Tuesday’s death toll — the most in a single day since Sept. 22 — led by statewide increases in Virginia. Virginia Health Department officials this week said the increase isn’t evidence of a surge in new deaths, but rather the result of waiting for death certificates to be prepared and for the data to be entered into a state database.

Dana Hedgpeth contributed to this story.

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Montgomery County Hospital District hires head of EMS oversight

A 20-year EMS professional has been announced as the Montgomery County Hospital District’s lead on field staff oversight.

As of late August, Mark Price became the MCHD clinical department’s new division chief. Price is currently completing his new hire orientation, according to the hospital district.

Price has “worked with various divisions to develop high-performance clinical practices in prehospital medicine,” read an MCHD statement.

A former Cy-Fair Fire Department EMS captain and clinical quality coordinator, Price had been in a leadership position there since 2014, according to MCHD.


“The treatment a patient receives while on an ambulance can greatly influence their outcome, for better or for worse,” Price said in a statement.

Price started in EMS in 1999 working for a 911 service in rural Robertson County, northwest of College Station. He first grew interested in EMS after his father died due to substandard prehospital care, according to MCHD.

“My mindset is always to be ahead of the game, thinking critically and using the best possible methods available to paramedics today. Innovation in an EMS service is vital — to ensure we are taking the best possible care of the residents of Montgomery County,” Price continued in his statement.

Last year, MCHD reported having about 250 paramedics.

“We place our focus on research, innovation and evidence-based practices in prehospital medicine, and we were looking for someone who shares that vision,” said Dr. Robert Dickson, MCHD medical director, in a statement.

Price has authored multiple articles related to leadership and development. He is a fellow at the American College of Paramedic Executives and serves as NEMA’s chair of the quality committee and the board of directors. He is completing a Bachelor of Science in emergency medical care through Western Carolina University in North Carolina, according to MCHD.

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Montgomery County records its 145th COVID-related death

Montgomery County public health officials confirmed the county’s 145th COVID-19-related death Tuesday as the case total passed 13,000.

According to the Montgomery County Public Health District, the death was a Porter man in his 60s who was hospitalized at the time of his death. The man had other health conditions in addition to testing positive for the virus.

The county added 95 cases Tuesday, bringing the total to 13,086. Of those, 1,945 are active, a drop of 85 from the previous day.

Total hospitalizations, both county and noncounty residents, dropped by seven to 54 with 14 of those patients in ICU.


The reason for the difference in the new cases and active cases is the Montgomery County Public Health District is continuing to process cases that were reported to The Department of State Health Services directly by health care providers and entered into the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System.

Online registration is still available for COVID-19 testing in Montgomery County. To get a voucher, go to mchd-tx.org or mcphd-tx.org and click on the “need to be tested” link. Fill out the information. A voucher will be emailed. Once you have the voucher, make an appointment at your choice of testing centers and get tested.

The county’s COVID-19 call center is available at 936-523-3916.

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Montgomery County’s active COVID-19 cases push past 2K

Online registration is still available for COVID-19 testing in Montgomery County. To get a voucher, go to mchd-tx.org or mcphd-tx.org and click on the

Online registration is still available for COVID-19 testing in Montgomery County. To get a voucher, go to mchd-tx.org or mcphd-tx.org and click on the “need to be tested” link. Fill out the information. A voucher will be emailed. Once you have the voucher, make an appointment at your choice of testing centers and get tested.

Melissa Phillip, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

Montgomery County health officials confirmed 147 new COVID-19 cases Monday including a jump of 87 in active cases which pushed that total past 2,000.

According to the Montgomery County Public Health District, those 147 cases bring the county’s total number of cases to 12,991. Active cases are now at 2,030. The county’s number of COVID-related deaths remained at 144.

Total hospitalizations, both county and noncounty residents, remained at 61 with 15 of those patients in ICU.

The reason for the difference in the new cases and active cases is the Montgomery County Public Health District is continuing to process cases that were reported to The Department of State Health Services directly by health care providers and entered into the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System.

Online registration is still available for COVID-19 testing in Montgomery County. To get a voucher, go to mchd-tx.org or mcphd-tx.org and click on the “need to be tested” link. Fill out the information. A voucher will be emailed. Once you have the voucher, make an appointment at your choice of testing centers and get tested.


The county’s COVID-19 call center is available at 936-523-3916.

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Montgomery doctor sentenced to 15 years in federal prison in pill mill case

A former Montgomery physician has been sentenced to federal prison for convictions on drug distribution, health care fraud and money laundering.

Richard A. Stehl, 60, was sentenced Friday to 15 years, according to a joint statement Monday by Middle District of Alabama U.S. Attorney Louis V. Franklin Sr., DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Sean Stephen, HHS-OIG Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson, and Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners Executive Director William Perkins.

Stehl was convicted in December 2019 on 94 counts of unlawfully distributing controlled substances, two counts of health care fraud, and five counts of money laundering.

The trial evidence showed that from 2010 through 2018, Stehl operated a medical practice, Healthcare on Demand. For most of that time, the practice was located at 201 Winton M. Blount Loop in Montgomery—just off of Taylor Road.

At his practice, Stehl prescribed addictive, controlled substances—including hydrocodone cough syrup, Adderall, Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and Ativan—despite knowing no legitimate medical purposes existed to support these prescriptions.

During the trial, the jury heard from ten of Stehl’s former patients. Each patient received multiple controlled substances prescriptions from Stehl. Several of the patients either developed addictions while seeing Stehl or had existing addictions worsened as a result of the supposed medical treatment Stehl provided.

One patient testified she would wait four hours to see Stehl and, by the time she made it to the examination room, she would demand that Stehl give her a prescription and let her leave—which he would then do. Another described driving more than four hours to see Stehl because she knew that Stehl would give her the drugs that she wanted. A third patient stated that Stehl gave her routine steroid injections—even though she reported to Stehl that she was allergic to steroids. After receiving several injections from Stehl, this patient wound up in the hospital.

At Friday’s sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Terry F. Moorer emphasized the harm that Stehl inflicted upon his patients, the fact that he prioritized profit over patient care, and Stehl’s complete lack of remorse as grounds for imposing the 15-year sentence.

The Drug Enforcement Agency and Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General investigated this case. They were aided by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division. Additionally, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Millbrook Police Department, the Opelika Police Department, the Montgomery Police Department, the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners, and the United States Marshals Service all assisted in the investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan S. Ross, Alice LaCour, and Megan Kirkpatrick prosecuted the case.

“The criminal conduct that occurred under the guise of Stehl’s medical practice was appalling,” stated Franklin said. “Stehl caused his patients to become addicted to powerful controlled substances all in the name of profit. In doing so, he inflicted immeasurable harm in the lives of his patients and his patients’ loved ones. The significant sentence imposed in this case reflects a just reward for Stehl’s drug dealing.”

“Stehl was the kingpin of taking advantage

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