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Fifth Circuit Court knocks down Texas abortion ban | The Latest | Gambit Weekly

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Tuesday evening a Texas law banning the most common and safest type of second trimester abortion, marking an unlikely victory for reproductive rights advocates from one of the most conservative appeals courts. 

The statute effectively outlawed the dilation and evacuation procedure, known as D&E, in which doctors open the cervix and remove fetal tissue from the uterus. The law would only allow the procedure, the one usually used for abortions after 14 weeks of pregnancy, if the “fetal demise” occurs in the uteruswhich would require an invasive additional step for doctors and women that is not part of a typical D&E. 

In its Whole Woman’s Health v. Ken Paxton decision, the Fifth Circuit ruled that the law unduly burdens a woman’s constitutionally-protected right to obtain a previability abortion” because it “requires a woman to undergo an additional and medically unnecessary procedure to cause fetal demise before she may obtain a dilation and evacuation abortion.”  

Louisiana passed a similar law in 2016, with exceptions only for a serious health risk to the mother, but it is not currently in effect. Several other states have had their own bans challenged in courtincluding Alabama, Kansas and Oklahoma. It is unclear if the ruling will apply to Louisiana and Mississippi, which are also in the Fifth Circuit’s jurisdiction and have similar bans on the books. 

The Texas law started out as a bill banning a late-term abortion procedure that was already outlawed at the federal level in 2003 and forbidding the sale or donation of embryonic and fetal tissue. But after several amendments, the final form of the law had many other parts, including requiring the burial or cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue. The D&E ban, however, was the biggest change. 

The law also included criminal penalties for doctors who did not adhere to it. 

Eight licensed abortion clinics and three abortion providers challenged the Texas law, and the Fifth Circuit, which covers Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, ruled in their favor and against the state of Texas. 

The ruling in favor of abortion rights comes as Louisiana residents begin to vote on whether they want to add an amendment to the state constitution declaring it does not include the right to abortion. It also comes in the midst of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearings. If confirmed to the Supreme Court, Barrett would give the court and even stronger anti-abortion majority, which could impact decades of future abortion legislation. 

Barrett is from Louisiana.

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Executive Medicine of Texas puts the Spotlight on Alzheimer’s Disease

Deaths from Alzheimer’s disease are increasing exponentially, but gaining little attention from the general public due to the Covid19 pandemic and other issues. Executive Medicine of Texas is working diligently to change the narrative and place focus on education and prevention of this terrible disease. Their first move, is hosting the first Alzheimer’s and the Arts Event, which will showcase the film “Have You Heard about Greg?”

DALLAS (PRWEB) October 13, 2020

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, since the year 2000, deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased by 146%. This is while deaths from heart disease have decreased by 7.8%. Alzheimer’s Disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the US, claiming more lives than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

“Our patients are concerned about their brain health and so are we,” says Mark Anderson, MD and one of the founders of Executive Medicine of Texas. “Years ago we made cognitive testing part of our routine executive exams. Shockingly, we’ve seen a significant number of patients, younger than ever, who are complaining of some sort of cognitive disruption. As a physician, it’s alarming.”

The Alzheimer’s and the Arts Event is the first of many efforts that Executive Medicine of Texas will be pushing to raise awareness for the disease. “This is a special event,” states Judy Gaman, their CEO, “because we’re focusing on education while raising money for the Alzheimer’s Association and the Guzman 23 Foundation.” Gaman, who knows from family experience just how devastating this disease can be, is championing the effort. “Having people like Steve Ecclesine, Greg O’Brian, and Warren Honeycutt involved so heavily in the Alzheimer’s and the Arts event brings it to a whole new level.

Steve Ecclesine, a Hollywood producer with over 700 films and TV shows to his credit is the producer of the film Have You Heard about Greg? He will be at the event for a Q&A session directly following the premier event. The film, showcasing the life of Greg O’Brian as he battles Alzheimer’s, has not yet been released. “I’m very interested to receive feedback from the audience and share the story of how this documentary came to be. Out of all the films I’ve worked on, this one is near and dear to my heart.” Those attendees who wish too will receive a chance to give on-screen testimonials about the films impact that will become part of the films marketing efforts.

Greg O’Brian’s highly acclaimed internationally award-winning book On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s, is the first book written by an investigative reporter who’s actually inside the mind of Alzheimer’s. Much like the book, the film, Have You Heard about Greg? shows what Greg and others have learned about the disease and uses science, faith, hope, and humor to broach a topic that needs much more attention.

Warren Honeycutt, six-time Mr. America Fitness finalist, media fitness expert and author of the book How the Health Are You? has also worked tirelessly on this project and will be at

Coronavirus struck Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. Will Latinos strike back with their votes?

Slowly, the strength that drained from Irene Morales’ body in her summer battle with Covid-19 is returning. What she won’t get back are her brother, her sister, her father and her aunt, all taken as the coronavirus has swept through Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.

The erasure of Morales’ family and Covid-19’s ruthlessness also wiped away her indecision about the presidential candidates. Her vote will pay respect to her family; she’ll be voting for Joe Biden, she said.

Speaking of President Donald Trump, Morales, 75, of Rio Grande City in Starr County, said: “It’s a little disappointing when I hear him say: ‘Don’t be afraid of Covid. Nothing has happened.’ Well, thank God. How lucky for him that he didn’t suffer. … Why have so many other people died? This the true Covid.”

Texas opened early voting Tuesday. Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs announced 16.9 million people had registered to vote—up 1.8 million from 2016, as of the latest numbers. In the four Rio Grande Valley counties — Hidalgo, Cameron, Starr and Willacy —registrations are up at least a combined 76,770.

But the numbers looming large in this part of the state are those that tell the story of the toll of the coronavirus.

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

The four core counties of the Lower Rio Grande Valley had logged nearly 70,000 coronavirus cases by Monday; nearly 3,000 people had died. Nearby Webb County, home to Laredo, and Zapata County, both on the border, added more than 14,700 more cases and 303 more deaths.

“There is not one person in Hidalgo County that hasn’t been affected by this horrible virus,” Hidalgo County Democratic chair Norma Ramirez said. That includes her. The virus killed Sergio Muñoz Sr., a former state legislator who was the county party’s vice chair, in July.

IMAGE: Irene Morales (Courtesy Irene Morales)
IMAGE: Irene Morales (Courtesy Irene Morales)

For Democrats to tip the election in Texas — the last Democratic presidential nominee to win the state was Jimmy Carter in 1976 — they’ll need improved turnout and more voters from the state’s almost all-Latino lower Rio Grande Valley and parts of South Texas. The counties are Democratic strongholds.

Community groups working to register and turn out voters, mostly through phone calls and texts, but also with some door-to-door work, say the virus’ devastation has become a motivator. They said Latinos are recognizing not only that their community has been devastated by the disease, but also that the years of inequities they have put up with worsened the impact of the coronavirus in the region.

Unemployment numbers here rose to levels not recorded since before 2000. Vehicle and foot traffic on the international bridges — the area’s economic engine — has been curtailed, hitting the border cities’ retail sectors that profit from Mexican shoppers.

The area already is far poorer than other parts of the state. It contends with high prevalences of diabetes and obesity, and about 30 percent of adults in three of the counties don’t have health insurance.

The Latest: Texas governor says surge team sent to El Paso

AUSTIN, Texas — An ongoing wave of COVID-19 cases in the El Paso area prompted Gov. Greg Abbott to announce Monday that a surge team of medical professionals would be dispatched to the area.

As of Monday, 313 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in El Paso, Hudspeth and Culberson counties of West Texas. The state estimated that active COVID-19 cases in El Paso County alone soared from almost 4,000 on Oct. 1 to just over 6,000 Monday. Seven cases were fatal during that period.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett faces Senate despite virus

— Trump insists he’s free of virus, ready for campaign trail

— Britain expected to tighten restrictions on hard-hit northern cities like Liverpool

— EU nations gear up to adopt traffic-light system to identify outbreaks

— Four Swiss guards who protect 83-year-old Pope Francis have the virus

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— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky’s governor said Monday that he kept up a busy work schedule despite being confined to the governor’s mansion after being around someone who later tested positive for COVID-19.

Gov. Andy Beshear said he will follow the advice of state public health officials in determining how long he and his family remain quarantined at the mansion. His next COVID test is expected to be Tuesday and then Friday, he said. He added he tested negative last week.

“I’ve asked them (health officials) to treat me like anybody else out there,” the Democratic said. “So I’m going to follow all the rules and all the guidelines.”

Beshear said he had one of his busiest Mondays in a while, and that the biggest challenge of working in quarantine — away from his staff — was all the time he spent “staring at a screen.”

“I’m working,” he said. “I’m just having to do it like many other families are having to do — remotely with sometimes my kids bouncing in and out, or a vacuum cleaner going.”

In his virtual briefing, the governor reported Kentucky’s highest number of coronavirus cases on a Monday since the pandemic began. He said that offers more evidence that the outbreak continues its recent escalation in the Bluegrass State.

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LAWRENCE, Kansas — Even as Kansas recorded another record spike in COVID-19 cases, Lawrence health officials were hit with a lawsuit over an emergency health order that limits bar hours in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

Rita “Peach” Madl, the owner of The Sandbar, a bar near the University of Kansas campus, is asking to be freed from rules requiring

Basecamp Fitness Coming to Houston, Texas

WOODBURY, Minn., Oct. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Houston, Texas is about to get HIIT. Basecamp Fitness, the hot new boutique fitness franchise with a unique brand of high-intensity interval training (HIIT)-based workouts, has expanded its nationwide footprint with the sale of several new locations that will be developed in the Houston area.

“We are delighted to introduce Basecamp Fitness and its singular style of workout to Houston,” said Chris Merchant, owner of the new Basecamp Fitness. “We offer an effective and efficient workout for adults of all ages and abilities, with a team approach to torch calories and build strength.”

At 35 minutes long, a Basecamp class is one of the most intense yet effective workouts on the market. Members alternate between 60-second bursts of strength exercises and 60 seconds of cardio on assault bikes. An optional core segment follows every workout, which means participants benefit from intense cardio, strength training and abdominal training during every session.

Big things are happening at Basecamp Fitness, which was originally started 2013 by Nick Swinmurn, the founder of online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos. Today, Basecamp Fitness is a member of the Self Esteem Brands portfolio, which also includes the world’s largest and fastest-growing fitness franchise, Anytime Fitness. Self Esteem Brands is known for identifying and growing successful franchise formats, with an emphasis on independent, small-business owners who operate their brand locations.

“After opening several corporate studios and perfecting the customer experience at Basecamp Fitness, we are excited to expand this unique franchise opportunity on a nationwide level,” said David Mortensen, president and co-founder, Self Esteem Brands. “With such interest in boutique fitness, we are in a fantastic position to be aggressive with our franchise growth strategy for the Basecamp Fitness brand.”

Basecamp Fitness is actively seeking qualified franchise partners. The Basecamp Fitness franchise opportunity offers potential owners the opportunity to capitalize on an emerging fitness market across all 50 states. Basecamp is backed by Self Esteem Brands, which owns Waxing the City, The Bar Method, and Anytime Fitness, and brings best practices from both of its fitness concepts to support Basecamp franchisees, with unparalleled support in real estate, finance, training and marketing.

About Basecamp Fitness
Basecamp Fitness is the most effective and efficient workout in the market. Each 35-minute workout focuses on high-intensity interval training (HIIT), rotating between an assault-bike and heart-pumping floor exercises – all designed to help participants become stronger and faster. Supported by a trained instructor, members receive additional guidance via large instructional video screens. An optional 10 minutes at the end of each workout features a wide array of core exercises, which means participants benefit from intense cardio, strength training and abdominal training during every session.

For more information on franchising opportunities, visit https://franchise.Basecampfitness.com/.

About Self Esteem Brands
Our purpose is to improve the self-esteem of the world. Self Esteem Brands (SEB) is the parent company of Anytime Fitness (the world’s largest fitness franchise), Basecamp Fitness, The Bar Method and Waxing the City.

Texas Dems highlight health care in fight to flip state House

Texas Democrats are making health care the heart of their final pitch as they look to flip the state House, which Republicans have held since 2002.

In a “contract with Texas” that Democrats are rolling out Thursday and which was shared first with The Hill, the party is touting policies it would try to enact should it flip the net nine seats it needs to gain control of the chamber. The central pillar of the plan is expanding Medicaid in Texas, which has the highest number and rate of uninsured people in the nation, as well as boosting coverage for children and making care for women more equal. 

The party is betting that voters in the state who normally rank health care as a top issue will be even more receptive to messages around expanding coverage in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit the Lone Star State particularly hard. And after Democrats across the country won in a “blue wave” in 2018 fueled by promises to improve coverage, Texas Democrats are confident their strategy will work. 

“I think we have seen for a while now, before the pandemic, before any of us heard of coronavirus, that health care was a top-ranked issue, really across the country. Certainly in the 2018 elections, health care was a key issue that year,” said state Rep. Chris Turner, chair of the Texas House Democratic caucus. “But this year, with this pandemic, with the health care crisis that is affecting everyone, it’s just through the roof right now. People expect policymakers to address health care access.” 

The heart of the Democrats’ “Affordable Health Care for Every Texan” plan is providing coverage for 2.2 million more residents by expanding Medicaid, which the party says would also lower premiums and prescription drug prices for all Texans. Estimates from the party gauge that Texas would receive $110 billion in federal money over a decade if Medicaid is expanded. 

The plan also calls for expanding coverage for children by extending children’s Medicaid “through 12 months of continuous eligibility to align with [the Children’s Health Insurance Program].”

Lastly, Democrats look to bolster women’s health care by ensuring access to abortion — including by ensuring clinics that offer the procedure receive proper funding — and reducing maternal mortality rates, including bringing down the disproportionate rate at which Black mothers die during childbirth.

The party is also eyeing other health care-related legislation, including bills to strengthen protections for people with preexisting conditions if ObamaCare is repealed and ending surprise medical billing.

Texas Democrats have long lamented Republicans’ policies on health care in the state, including their refusal to expand Medicaid and work to curb abortion access, but indicate those efforts would face reenergized resistance if they win back the state House.

“Without the gavel, we haven’t been able to dictate the tone and tenor of what happens on the floor, so this time around we will be able to keep divisive and hurtful legislation off the floor and we’ll

The First Black Dentist in Texas

Marcellus Cooper was born into slavery, in Dallas, on February 12, 1862. His mother was Black, his father was White, and his owners were the Caruth family. He went to grade school in a freedman’s town in what is now Lake Highlands. He was the treasurer of a Black library association and worked in a Jewish-owned department store while saving money for dentistry school. He opened a practice in a sanitarium operated by Texas’ first Black surgeon before moving to a building designed by Texas’ first Black architect.

Now, 91 years after his death, Cooper is set to get a historical marker on land that once belonged to his former owners.    

In the 1860s, John Caruth and his Confederate veteran sons, William and Walter, were one of the largest slave-holding families in Dallas. Cooper was born a slave on their plantation to Sallie Lively, also a slave, and a White man, also named M.C. Cooper. Less than one year after Cooper’s birth, on January 1, 1863, slaves in Texas were freed de jure, but they wouldn’t be freed de facto until June 19, 1865. The Caruths’ former slaves spread out, forced by vagrancy laws to form freedman’s towns such as Upper White Rock, in present-day Addison, and the Fields Community, in present-day Merriman Park. Cooper commenced school in Little Egypt, a freedman’s town in present-day Lake Highlands, but moved with his father to Springfield, Missouri, where he completed high school.

Cooper returned to Dallas after high school and hired on at Sanger Brothers Department Store. By January 1888, Cooper was serving as the treasurer of the Lincoln Library Association. Although records of the association are sparse, a January 31, 1888, Dallas Morning News article reported that “the best element of the colored people [who attended its events] spoke highly of the enterprise, and said that if the colored people are to be elevated it must be through the means of those intellectual and financial levers which have served in elevating other races.”

By 1891, after working for 11 years in the Sanger Brothers wholesale department, Cooper had saved sufficient funds to study dentistry at Meharry Medical College, in Nashville, Tennessee, the first medical school in the South for Blacks. A lack of records leaves us imagining why he chose that field and why he left what was presumably a good job where he was beloved. But news of his move was big enough that the paper covered it. “On the eve of his departure for Nashville,” the News reported on September 29, 1891, Sanger Brothers’ Black employees presented him with a gold-headed cane “in token of their appreciation.”

Dr. Cooper returned to Dallas in 1896, after finishing dental school, and opened an office on Commerce Street.


It is startling to think about what Cooper was able to accomplish, given the fierce racism he faced during the three decades he lived in Dallas after earning his doctorate. In addition to the use of vagrancy laws to force Black people into isolated

Texas Health Care Workers Urged To Get Immunized Ahead Of Vaccine

AUSTIN, TX — Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday urged Texas health care providers to secure immunizations in order to be able to administer vaccines for the coronavirus once they are available.

To that end, health care providers are urged to enroll in the Texas Department of State Health Services’ Immunization Program. Hospitals, medical practices, pharmacies, and long-term care facilities that want to participate are required to enroll as vaccine providers at EnrollTexasIZ.dshs.texas.gov to administer COVID-19 immunizations in Texas, the governor noted.

“While potential COVID-19 vaccines continue to undergo clinical trials, the State of Texas is taking a proactive approach to ensure the vaccine is distributed as quickly as possible once available,” Abbott said in a prepared statement. “Providing Texans with access to a voluntary vaccine and efficiently administering the immunization will be essential to containing COVID-19 and protecting the health of our communities. I urge health care providers across the state to sign up for DSHS’ Immunization Program so they are prepared to administer the COVID-vaccine to Texans who choose to be immunized.”

While vaccine production ramps up, Abbott added, the supply will be limited and provided to critical populations such as health care workers or people at a higher risk of severe disease. As more doses become available, the governor said, more of the enrolled providers will begin to receive vaccine for the people they serve.

Doses of the voluntary COVID-19 vaccine and the supplies needed to administer the immunization will be provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and shipped directly to providers after they are allocated by DSHS.

Under federal guidelines, providers who choose to participate must agree to administer vaccine regardless of a recipient’s ability to pay, provide a vaccination record to each recipient, store doses of vaccine under the proper conditions, and report the number of doses received and used. Any vaccine must be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration before it can be distributed in the United States. DSHS will host opportunities for public comment and provide more information about vaccine distribution as it becomes available.

For more information on the DSHS Immunization Program, visit the Immunization Program Portal.

This article originally appeared on the Austin Patch

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Boil-water notice lifted from Texas city where microbe found

LAKE JACKSON, Texas (AP) — A boil-water notice was lifted Tuesday from the drinking-water system of a Houston-area city where water tainted with a deadly, microscopic parasite was blamed for the death of a 6-year-old boy.

In a statement, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said Lake Jackson officials lifted the notice Tuesday after disinfectant levels in the drinking water were documented to be above the state requirements. Also, water samples tested negative for harmful bacteria.

However, the TCEQ urged users of Lake Jackson’s water to avoid getting it up their noses to reduce the risk of infection by the brain-eating microbe naegleria fowleri.

The boil-water notice was issued late last month after several days of flushing of the Brazosport Water Authority’s water delivery system. The flushing was ordered after three of 11 samples of the Lake Jackson’s water tested positive for the deadly flagellate.

One sample came from the home of Josiah McIntyre, the 6-year-old boy whom doctors said died earlier this month after being infected with the brain-eating parasite, city officials said.

The deadly amoeba does not cause an infection if it is in water that a person drinks as it is killed by normal levels of stomach acid. However, people can be infected when water containing the microbe enters the body through the nose

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who issued a disaster declaration for Lake Jackson, has said all indications point to the case being isolated and that the suspected problem in the boy’s death was traced back to a splash pad. The TCEQ said it and the city will conduct daily monitoring for the microbe going forward.

The Brazosport Water Authority initially warned eight communities on Sept. 25 not to use tap water for any reason except to flush toilets. It lifted that warning the next day for all communities but Lake Jackson, where the authority’s water treatment plant is situated. The advisory also was canceled for two state prisons and Dow Chemical’s massive Freeport works.

The ban was lifted in Lake Jackson on Sept. 27 but replaced with the boil-water notice.

Naegleria fowleri is a free-living microscopic amoeba, or single-celled living organism commonly found in warm freshwater and soil, according to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It usually infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. From there it travels to the brain and can cause a rare and debilitating disease called primary amebic meningoencephalitis.

The infection is usually fatal and typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places such as lakes and rivers. In very rare instances, naegleria infections may also occur when contaminated water from other sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or heated and contaminated tap water) enters the nose.

“This is a terrible tragedy that made something that was rare, and even vanishingly rare, actually happen,” said John Hellersedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

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Local doctor named Texas Dentist of the Year

HARLINGEN — Early on, Dr. Gary M. Schwarz was originally inspired to become a farmer like his father.

However, after his parents recommended he become a doctor or a dentist because of his love for biology, he became inspired to pursue a career in dentistry and oral surgery.

Schwarz grew up in the Rio Grande Valley and now has offices in Brownsville, Harlingen, Weslaco and McAllen.

To him, being a dentist and oral surgeon is a very rewarding career that helps make a difference in people’s lives.

On Sept. 17, Schwarz was selected as the 2020 Texas Dentist of the Year at the Texas Academy Awards celebration.

“Upon being announced the 2020 Texas Dentist of the Year, I am so shocked and I am so touched,” Schwarz stated. “I want to extend my thanks to the Rio Grande Valley Dental Society, Rio Grande Valley AGD, Rio Grande Valley Study Club and the Academy of General Dentistry. Most importantly, thank you to my staff, my beautiful wife and thank God. God is good.”

According to a news release from the Texas Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), this award is considered the most prestigious honor a Texas dentist can earn.

He was nominated by the Rio Grande Valley AGD and chosen from among 14 nominees by a panel of judges.

Nominations are received from local components of the Texas AGD and district dental societies from all areas of Texas.

The winner is determined based on contributions to dentistry, service to the community, dedication to principles of continuing education and other activities that indicate character and excellence.

The Texas AGD selects a dentist every year to honor as the Texas Dentist of the Year.

According to the release, judges believed two dentists were deserving of the award this year and presented it to both Schwarz and Dr. C. Roger Macias of San Antonio.

“Schwarz has been deeply involved in organized dentistry for as long as he has been in practice and has served on all levels — local, statewide and national,” the release states.

Schwarz received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry in 1978.

Early in his career, Schwarz met and studied with Dr. P.I. Brannemark.

The release further states that this opportunity allowed Schwarz to open an implant center and begin mentoring dentists by providing a platform for regular and frequent continuing education programs.

“From the time he first started his practice, Schwarz’s mission has always been to take good care of anyone who came through the door,” the release states.

According to the press release, Schwarz has been profoundly influenced by his mentor, Dr. D. Lamar Byrd who believed oral surgery was an essential service to the community, and with that came added responsibility.

“To this day, I believe it was sage advice and I have always conducted my practice with this core ethic in mind,” Schwarz stated.

Most recently, he served as president of the Rio Grande Valley AGD