Jenkins: COVID-19 Cases Ticking Upward

As local officials work to determine whether COVID-19 cases are trending upward or not, here’s what you need to know today:

  • Jenkins: Dallas County COVID-19 cases may be ticking upward;
  • Extra $300 unemployment payment for Texans ending;
  • AG Paxton warns Texans about text message scam.
Jenkins: Dallas County COVID-19 Cases May Be Ticking Upward

Dallas County Health and Human Services Wednesday reported 376 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total confirmed case count in Dallas County to 74,476, as well as an additional nine deaths.

Of the 376 new cases reported Wednesday, 168 came through the Texas Department of State Health Services’ (DSHS) electronic laboratory reporting (ELR) system with 110 from older months – 19 from July and 91 from August.

The additional deaths reported Wednesday include a Mesquite woman in her 40s, a Dallas man in his 50s who died in a hospital emergency room, two Dallas men in their 60s, a Dallas woman in her 70s who died in a hospital emergency room and didn’t have underlying health conditions, a Dallas man in his 70s, and a Richardson man in his 80s.

Of the 957 total confirmed deaths reported to date, about 25% have been associated with long-term care facilities. Also among the deaths reported Wednesday were a woman in her 60s who lived at a Dallas long-term care facility, and a man in his 70s who lived at a Mesquite long-term care facility.

“Today’s numbers are 376 and 266 of those numbers were from September but it’s unknown how many of those ‘new’ cases were actually from tests in August. Our current median testing time is nine days with some of our labs taking longer than nine days and some labs taking less than nine days. Labs used by Dallas County and Parkland are taking about three days, so it’s hard to know how many of these cases are new. However, preliminarily, epidemiologists looking at date of test collection say that our downward trend in new COVID-19 cases has stopped and may be beginning to trend upward slightly. Therefore, it’s imperative that we all make good decisions. Please continue to wear your mask at all times when around people outside your home and maintain six foot distance. Remember, it’s not one or the other, it’s both. Also, wash your hands frequently and avoid unnecessary crowds and trips,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins Wednesday. “Recently, the TABC relaxed the rules for some bars and we are hearing more and more reports of crowded bars. We know that in every state that has left their bars open or reopened bars, they have seen a big spike in COVID-19 cases that increases infection and hurts other businesses and schools. The Public Health Committee, Dr. Huang and I strongly urge residents to avoid bars at this time. We also strongly encourage Gov. Abbott to not loosen restrictions on bars and in fact, to close any loopholes that are allowing indoor gatherings at bars until the numbers are lower. If we all do our part, we have a good chance to get to a better place this fall but it is very easy to let our guard down and have the numbers jump in a short time. History has shown us that it takes months to get the numbers back down again. So please make your best decisions for you and your family, don’t let your guard down, and always wear your mask.”

From Aug. 15-28, 317 school-aged children between 5 to 17 years of age were diagnosed with COVID-19 in Dallas County. About 43% of these cases were high school age (14 to 17 years).  By zip code of residence, 167 (53%) of these children were projected to have been enrolled in Dallas ISD schools and one in Highland Park ISD.

During the past 10 days, the county says more than 25 possible cases of COVID-19 have been reported associated with multiple youth hockey teams in the DFW area. Of all confirmed cases requiring hospitalization to date, more than two-thirds have been under 65 years of age. 

The county reported 353 COVID-19 patients in hospitals Tuesday. The number of emergency room visits for COVID-19-like symptoms in Dallas County was 411 Tuesday, which represents around 18% of all emergency department visits in the county according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council. 

The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 remains high, the county says, with 10.8% of symptomatic patients presenting to area hospitals testing positive in week 35.

Extra $300 Unemployment Payment For Texans Ending

Texans receiving unemployment benefits who qualified for an extra $300 in weekly benefit payments issued by the Trump administration will no longer receive the additional funds after claims from last week are paid, the Texas Tribune reports.

The Texas Workforce Commission was reportedly notified of the news by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which provided the funds.

President Trump announced the extra weekly payments in August after an additional $600 weekly payment approved by Congress to help mitigate losses tied to the pandemic expired in July, the Tribune reports.

A spokesperson for the agency told the Tribune that some people did not qualify for the extra benefit because they didn’t indicate they had lost their jobs because of the pandemic when they filed for unemployment. Others reportedly didn’t qualify because they were receiving less than $100 in weekly unemployment benefits.

AG Paxton Warns Texans About Text Message Scam

 Attorney General Ken Paxton Wednesday warned Texans about scammers sending text messages that include a false package delivery notice and a fraudulent link. The text messages in question usually claim that a package is pending delivery and requests the recipient to “claim ownership” by providing their credit card and personal information.

Any Texan who receives a suspicious text message should: not click on any links; not respond to the message, share the message, or give out any personal, financial or identifying information; delete the message; block the number that sent the message; and report the phone number and message contents to the Office of the Attorney General or the Federal Trade Commission.

Shipping companies such as DHL, UPS, FedEx and Amazon will not contact consumers about issues with a package via text message. Unsolicited text messages, particularly those containing unfamiliar links or purporting to come from a company you have not contacted first, should always be treated with caution.

Report suspected fraud to the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division by calling toll-free 1-800-621-0508 or by filing an online complaint at https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/consumer-protection/file-consumer-complaint.

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 rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

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