Abbott: Many Businesses Can Increase Occupancy

As businesses continue to reopen and increase capacity, protests continue, curfews remain in place, and officials continue to monitor the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a lot of information to keep up with. Here are today’s bullet points:

  • Abbott: Many Businesses Can Increase Occupancy
  • Dallas County COVID-19 Case Count Increased From Last Week, Hospitalizations Remain Flat
  • COVID-19 Community Based Testing Sites Adjust Hours
  • Cowboys’ Dak Prescott Pledges $1M To Improve Police Training

Abbott: Many Businesses Can Increase Occupancy

Gov. Greg Abbott Wednesday said bars, gyms, offices, and more across the state can operate at up to 50% capacity effective immediately.

As part of Abbott’s announcement of phase III of his reopening plan, he added that patrons at bars will have to be seated, and that business operating at 25% capacity during phase II could increase to 50% capacity, with certain exceptions, under phase III effective Wednesday.

Abbott added that restaurants could also expand their maximum table size from six to 10 people. Beginning June 12, restaurants may expand their occupancy to 75%.

Businesses that previously have been able to operate at 100% capacity may continue to do so, and most outdoor areas are not subject to capacity limits. All businesses and customers should continue to follow minimum standard health protocols laid out by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), according to the announcement.

“The people of Texas continue to prove that we can safely and responsibly open our state for business while containing COVID-19 and keeping our state safe,” said Abbott. “As anticipated, the new positive cases that we are seeing are largely the result of isolated hot spots in nursing homes, jails, and meat packing plants. Thanks to the effectiveness of our Surge Response Teams, we have the ability to contain those hot spots while opening up Texas for business. As we begin Phase III, I ask all Texans and Texas businesses to continue following the standard health protocols and to heed the guidance of our state and federal officials who continue to closely monitor COVID-19. If we remain vigilant, we will continue to mitigate the spread of this virus, protect public health, and get more Texans back to work and their daily activities.”

For details and a full list of guidelines, openings, and relevant dates, visit the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas’ website.

Dallas County COVID-19 Case Count Increased From Last Week, Hospitalizations Remain Flat

Dallas County Health and Human Services Wednesday reported 239 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total case count in Dallas County to 10,958, as well as four additional deaths.

The latest deaths include a 40-something-year-old Lancaster man, a 50-something-year-old Dallas man, a 50-something-year-old Dallas woman, and a 100-something-year-old Dallas woman, according to the county. They each had been hospitalized and three had underlying health conditions.

More than 80% of cases requiring hospitalization who reported employment have been critical infrastructure workers, with a broad range of affected occupational sectors, including healthcare, transportation, food and agriculture, public works, finance, communications, clergy, first responders and other essential functions.

Two-thirds of cases requiring hospitalization have been under 65 years of age, and about half do not have any 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. Of the 249 total deaths reported to date, over a third have been associated with long-term care facilities.

“(Wednesday’s) numbers add to a week that appears to be a significant increase from last week for both cases reported and deaths. The numbers that doctors are asking the public to most focus on, in determining when activities are safe and that keys into the color-coded chart on activities, are still flat; however, those numbers are trailing indicators (COVID-19 hospitalizations, ICU admissions, ER visits, and deaths). The color-coded chart on activities is still at red as we have not seen any decline yet, much less a 14 day decline in those numbers. Therefore, it’s critical that people continue to avoid crowds, maintain 6 foot distancing when out, wear a cloth face covering on public transportation and at businesses, plus practice good and frequent hygiene,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said.

Dallas County continues to see a sustained daily census of around 300 COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the county during the past week.

Additionally, officials are seeing a sustained number of people presenting to Dallas County hospital emergency rooms with suspected COVID-19 symptoms.

Approximately 22% of emergency room visits in Dallas County for a 24 hour period ending June 2, representing some 447 patients, presented to Dallas County emergency rooms with COVID-19 symptoms. You can find additional information on risk-level monitoring data here.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson shared Wednesday that 25 hospitals reported bed and ventilator capacity. Of 5,999 total beds, 3,976 (66%) were occupied, of 921 total ICU beds, 603 (65%) were occupied, and of 968 total ventilators, 325 (34%) were in use.
Jenkins also addressed protests against police brutality in Dallas and across the country.

“We are committed to protecting the rights and safety of peaceful protesters. The Dallas Mavericks have secured masks and hand sanitizer for peaceful protesters and I ask that you use one of these masks or bring your own. Dallas County has had 249 deaths from COVID-19. Twenty of those have been reported in the last two days. This virus disproportionately affects communities of color. I also ask that you maintain 6 foot distancing to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community. We are working out the mask distribution and will have more details shortly,” he said.

COVID-19 Community Based Testing Sites Adjust Hours
Photo: CDC

The city of Dallas announced Wednesday that the site at the American Airlines Center is now open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday and is closed Sunday, and the site at the Ellis Davis Field House is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Hours for the American Airlines Center will remain 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday while the city’s curfew is in effect and will return to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. once the curfew is lifted. A curfew remains in effect in parts of Dallas, and all of the Park Cities, until 6 a.m. June 6. The hours of enforcement are 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The criteria to receive a test at the community-based testing sites include people with COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea, and/or sore throat) or anyone 65 years or older, or anyone with chronic health issues, or any first responders, DART drivers, healthcare workers, grocery store, and essential retail store workers.

For more information on the testing sites or city resources, visit the city’s website.

Cowboys’ Dak Prescott Pledges $1M To Improve Police Training

Lastly, as usual, we end today’s digest with what we hope is a bit of good news. Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys shared on Instagram that he will pledge $1 million in hopes of improving police training and to “address systemic racism through education and advocacy in our country.”


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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at [email protected]

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