As protests continue and new cases of the novel coronavirus once again begin to rise, keeping up with those twin concerns can be difficult. Here are today’s bullet points:
- Abbott says state will not need federal troops;
- New COVID-19 cases continue to rise, highest death count yet reported Tuesday;
- CareNow now offers COVID-19 testing.
Abbott Says State Will Not Need Federal Troops
Gov. Greg Abbott sat in the Dallas City Council horseshoe Tuesday afternoon, with the mayors of Dallas and Fort Worth, two police chiefs, and leaders from the Texas National Guard and Department of Public Safety, ready to talk about the state and local response to the looting and vandalism that has followed several days of demonstrations about police brutality.
With his voice raised, Abbott said he was horrified by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week at the hands of police, and insisted that law enforcement was supportive of peaceful protests.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Col. Steve McCraw, Adjutant General of the Texas National Guard Major Gen. Tracy Norris, Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall, and Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus joined Abbott.
“Let’s be clear, what happened to George Floyd is a horrific act of police brutality,” Abbott said loudly. “George Floyd’s death has touched every corner of our country. People are rightfully angry, but the beautiful thing about America is that every person has a right to make their voices heard to protest against this injustice.
“However, violence and vandalism is never the answer, and they have no place in Dallas, Fort Worth, or anywhere in the state of Texas.”
McCraw called Floyd’s death “murder.”
“There is not a police officer in Texas who is not sickened by the murder of George Floyd,” he said. “Public entrusts with so much power it is to protect, not to harm. He was harmed. He was murdered.”
Abbott, Johnson, Price, and McCraw all insisted that the bulk of the vandalism was coming from “outside agitators.”
“We will not tolerate those who want to come into our city and exploit these peaceful protests or cause mischief for their own sake or own personal gain,” Johnson said, adding that he has called a special city council meeting for Friday afternoon to discuss the local response – which many protestors and reporters on the scene have questioned – to the protests.
“I don’t mind advertising this, we do have special agents embedded trying to identify criminals that are leveraging this or using it as an opportunity, exploiting these demonstrations,” McCraw said.
However, the Texas Tribune reported that data supplied by Johnson’s office shows that most of the 185 arrested over the weekend were from Dallas-Fort Worth.
Seventy-five were from Dallas, and 23 were from Fort Worth.
“(Johnson is) ‘mayor of the city of Dallas, not of the Dallas-Fort Worth area,'” Johnson’s spokesman, Tristan Hallman, reportedly told the Tribune.
Johnson pushed back Wednesday morning on Twitter, saying, “As I said, the criminal acts we saw early on were committed largely by people who do NOT live in Dallas. ‘Dallas suburbs’ and ‘DFW area’ are not DALLAS. If your home in Dallas is broken into and you call the Frisco PD, they’re not coming. Facts matter.”
Reporters asked Abbott about President Donald Trump’s insistence that if governors won’t “dominate the streets,” the U.S. military would be deployed to “solve the problem for them.”
Abbott said more than 1,000 DPS troopers and hundreds of National Guard members were sent to Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, and Austin.
“We will not be asking the U.S. military to come into the state of Texas because we know that Texans can take care of Texans,” Abbott said. “We have tremendous police forces in Dallas, in Fort Worth, in the surrounding suburbs across the entire state.”
Shortly after the press conference ended, the city announced that it would expand the curfew boundaries to include downtown, Deep Ellum, the Farmers Market, Cedars, Uptown, and Victory Park, Trinity Groves and West Village.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins later expanded the curfew to include any county buildings outside of any city’s curfew zone. The curfew there began at 8:30 p.m.
“This allows for peaceful protests at a government location until a little bit before sundown and then gives people the opportunity to return to their cars before it gets dark,” Jenkins said.
“We must listen to one another. I don’t learn by talking, and I doubt anyone else does either. We learn by listening with respect,” he added. “We must find a way to forge a new normal for policing and violence against black residents, and also a new normal for the way that we interact with one another during this time of COVID-19 until a vaccine is found.
“We are a big diverse state with many different people and many different ideas but we are a welcoming state, and a people who seek justice and know that there can be no true peace without justice.”
New COVID-19 Cases Continue to Rise, Highest Death Count Yet Reported Tuesday
Dallas County health officials Tuesday reported the deadliest day yet since the novel coronavirus pandemic hit the area, with 16 more deaths. An additional 257 positive cases were also reported, bringing the county total case count to 10,719, and a total of 245 deaths.
“Today we experienced a record number of new positive cases as well as a record number of deaths. We’ve seen a trend upward from well below 200 at the beginning of last week to the mid-200s this week in new cases,” Jenkins said. “Unfortunately, we have not seen any decline in the metrics of ICU admissions, hospitalizations for COVID-19, ER visits for COVID-19 symptoms, and deaths that the CDC and the local health experts are tracking to determine when it’s safe to loosen restrictions on activities.
“It is wise for everyone to focus not on what is legal, but rather on what is safe.”
Among the dead include a Dallas man in his 40s with underlying health conditions, two Dallas men in their 50s who had underlying health conditions, three Dallas men in their 60s who had underlying health conditions, a Dallas woman in her 60s with underlying health conditions, a Dallas woman in her 70s with no underlying health conditions, a Duncanville woman in her 70s with no underlying health conditions, a Dallas man in his 70s with underlying health conditions, a Dallas woman in her 80s who was critically ill in an area hospital, a Dallas woman in her 80s with underlying health conditions, and a Dallas man in his hundreds that did not have any underlying high-risk health conditions.
In addition, three of the deceased were residents of long-term care facilities, which continues to account for about a third of all COVID-19 deaths: a man in his 60s who lived at a Dallas facility, a man in his 80s who lived at a Lancaster facility, and a man in his 90s who lived at a Mesquite facility.
Of cases requiring hospitalization, two-thirds have been under 65 years of age, and about half do not have high-risk chronic health conditions. Diabetes has been an underlying high-risk health condition reported in about a third of all hospitalized patients with COVID-19.
The county also said that there has been a “sustained daily census” around 300 COVID-19 patients in county hospitals over the past week, and a sustained number of people coming to emergency rooms with possible symptoms. About 21% of ER visits for a 24 hour period ending June 1 – or about 366 patients – had symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
In his evening newsletter, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said that 25 hospitals reported their bed availability Tuesday. Of the 5,999 beds available, 63% were occupied. Of the 921 ICU beds available, 63% were occupied, and of the 965 ventilators available, 302 were in use.
Of cases requiring hospitalization who reported employment, about 83% have been critical infrastructure workers including those in healthcare (14%), transportation (13%), food and agriculture – which includes grocery stores and places you can buy food (16%), public works (12%), finance (5%), communications (3%), teachers, real estate, and clergy (5%), and first responders (3%).
In the county’s June 2 aggregate report, most cases continue to be between the ages of 18 and 60, with the 18-40 age group accounting for 40% of the cases, and the 41-64 age group accounting for another 40% of the total cases.
Close contact or community transmission continues to be the biggest risk factor for contracting COVID-19, accounting for roughly 86.7% of all cases. Living in a long-term care facility, being incarcerated in the county jail, and working in a meat or food processing plant are a distant second, third, and fourth, at 4.8%, 3.6%, and 2.2%, respectively. Domestic travel has dropped to 1.2%.
Of the testing done, positive cases accounted for 9.8% as of May 23, with 352 positives coming from 3,580 tests. This number could change again as test results continue to come in for that week, so expect some fluctuation on Monday when we report the aggregate results again (this Monday, there were 299 positives from 2,447 tests for May 23, illustrating that the numbers do change).
On May 16, 9.7% of tests at local hospitals were positive, so we’ll also be watching to see if May 23 numbers remain at 9.8%, or if they rise. Testing and positive test results of COVID-19 far outpaces any other respiratory virus – even if you combine them all.
Sixteen percent of all cases ended up hospitalized – 30% ended up in intensive care, and 18% ended up on a ventilator.
In a city-by-city breakdown, Dallas still comes in with the highest number of cases – 5,953, or 55.5%. Highland Park has 18 cases so far, and University Park now has 28.
Statewide, 986,224 tests have been administered, with 66,568 testing positive in 229 counties, and 1,698 deaths so far.
CareNow Now Offers COVID-19 Testing
CareNow, which is now affiliated with Medical City Healthcare, announced Tuesday that it is now offering COVID-19 diagnostic testing to the community as well as antibody testing across all locations in North Texas.
And for those who think they may be experiencing the symptoms of the novel coronavirus, an online screening tool is available to help determine risk and get care recommendations before ever stepping foot inside a clinic.
Patients are encouraged to use CareNow’s web check-in to get in line, and wait from home to reduce the risk of transmission.
For in-clinic visits, a medical provider will evaluate the patient and then recommend testing or antibody testing as needed, with results usually available in 48 hours.
Also available is virtual care at select locations, where patients can check-in online to receive a link to set up the visit.
Additionally, CareNow has added certain safety measures to help decrease the potential spread of COVID-19, including limitations on visitors accompanying patients, thorough and ongoing cleaning of patient areas, screenings of patients and visitors, practicing social distancing, spacing out arrival times through the use of online check-in, and applying the most current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
For more information about COVID-19 testing and other CareNow services, visit CareNow.com.