As Dallas County continues to report increased COVID-19 hospitalizations and local officials warn of the need to follow safety protocols to avoid a “terrible place for the holidays,” here’s what you need to know today:
- Dallas County reports 523 more COVID-19 cases, two additional deaths;
- Early voting in Dallas County continues to break records;
- Portions of Preston Road, Joyce Way to close for paving replacement;
- Gov. Abbott, TEA establish targeted education funds for families of students with cognitive disabilities.
Dallas County Reports 523 More COVID-19 Cases, Two Additional Deaths
Dallas County Health and Human Services Wednesday reported 589 additional positive cases of COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 91,313 confirmed cases, as well as two more deaths for a total of 1,091 confirmed deaths.
The county reported 66 additional probable cases Wednesday for a total of 4,735 probable cases including 13 probable deaths.
Of the 523 confirmed cases reported Wednesday, 273 came through the Texas Department of State Health Services’ (DSHS) electronic laboratory reporting (ELR) system, and only one was from an older month.
The additional deaths reported Wednesday include a Cedar Hill woman in her 90s, and a man in his 70s who lived in a Dallas long-term care facility. Both had been hospitalized and had high-risk health conditions.
Of the total confirmed deaths reported to date, about 24% have been associated with long-term care facilities.
Dallas County reported 435 COVID-19 patients in hospitals Tuesday, and there were 411 people in emergency rooms in the county for COVID-19-like symptoms Tuesday, which represents around 16% of all emergency department visits in the county according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council.
“Today’s numbers continue an increase in the number of COVID-19 positive cases that we’re seeing in both confirmed (PCR) and probable (antigen) tests,” said Dallas County Judge a Clay Jenkins. “We are seeing an increase in COVID-19 bed utilization at our hospitals and we are back to the highest numbers that we’ve seen since August in four of our hospital systems.
“It is not a time to lose our resolve. Things will get better. We will get a vaccine but it’s imperative that we all wear our masks and avoid large crowds for now,” he added. “We know what to do, we just need to do it and we need to do it now before we find ourselves in a terrible place for the holidays, winter and the beginning of spring. I know there’s a lot of COVID-19 fatigue setting in out there but now is not the time to relax your standards. Focus on what is safe as determined by the doctors and not what is legal.”
A provisional total of 406 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in school-aged children between 5 and 17 years during the week ending Oct. 10, which is more than twice the numbers of children diagnosed in this age group four weeks earlier–the week ending Sept. 12.
Wednesday, Dallas ISD’s COVID-19 dashboard showed the district had 385 cases across the district, 147 among campus staff, 32 cases among central staff, and 206 among students. Walnut Hill Elementary has 15 cases, Thomas Jefferson High School has 12, Sudie Williams Talented and Gifted has one, Withers Elementary has three, W.T. White High School has nine, Gooch Elementary has two, Kramer Elementary has two, Dealey Montessori has one, Pershing Elementary has one, Marsh Middle School has one, Benjamin Franklin Middle School has two, and Hillcrest High School reported nine.
As of Wednesday, Highland Park ISD reported one case among a staff member at Bradfield Elementary School, one case among a staff member assigned to McCulloch Intermediate and Highland Park Middle School, one case among a staff member at the middle school, one case among a student at the middle school, and five among students at Highland Park High School, according to HPISD’s dashboard.
Of all confirmed cases requiring hospitalization to date, more than two-thirds have been under 65 years of age.
The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 has increased to 11.3% of symptomatic patients presenting to area hospitals testing positive in the week ending Oct. 10, the county says.
UT Southwestern Medical Center’s latest forecast projects total COVID-19 hospitalizations could increase to between 380 and 690 concurrent hospitalized cases by Oct. 30, and roughly 1,000 new COVID-19 infections per day are expected by Oct. 30.
Early Voting In Dallas County Continues To Break Records
Jenkins tweeted that 40,253 voted Wednesday for a cumulative total of 432,640. Early voting lasts until Oct. 30.
The daily total by locations for Wednesday of Week 2. 2016 was 38,771. You beat that like you have every day @DallasElections voters❣️Your total for today is 40,253; cumulative for today is 432,640. pic.twitter.com/pQp0x5nFLH— Clay Jenkins (@JudgeClayJ) October 22, 2020
Portions of Preston Road, Joyce Way To Close For Paving Replacement
Over a five-day period beginning Oct. 23 and Oct. 26 to Oct. 29, two southbound lanes of Preston Road (SH 289) and a portion of Joyce Way will be closed for paving replacement activities, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. The pavement replacement will be along Preston Road from Walnut Hill Lane to Joyce Way.
Motorists are urged to follow signage in the construction zone. During the lane closures, construction crews will perform saw cutting, demo, removal and concrete replacement. During this time motorists traveling along Preston Road may experience some minor traffic delays. The construction work is part of a Dallas Water Utilities pipe replacement project at Joyce Way that began in June 2020 and is anticipated to be complete by November 2020.
For questions or concerns about the project, please contact Construction Superintendent, Mike Warren, at his office number 214-670-8082 or cell number 214-243-4292.
Gov. Abbott, TEA Establish Targeted Education Funds for Families Of Students With Cognitive Disabilities
Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) Wednesday announced the establishment of the Supplementary Special Education Services (SSES) program to connect eligible students with severe cognitive disabilities with additional support for the critical services they require.
This student-centered SSES program will help connect Texas families to high-quality, personalized services through a one-time funding allocation that aims to help offset learning disruptions related to COVID-19. Qualifying families will gain access to a targeted spending account to purchase services costing up to $1,500 dollars per eligible student.
Through this funding source, Texas families can purchase supplemental supports such as tutoring, therapy, and digital resources through vendors approved and vetted by TEA. The purchased services are intended to be supplementary and do not remove responsibility from Texas public school systems to provide the educational services outlined in each eligible student’s Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) plan.
Families of students enrolled in public school during the 2020-2021 school year that were enrolled during the initial COVID-19 closures in Spring 2020 and have been identified as having a low incidence disability will qualify. Nearly 59,000 students statewide are eligible to benefit from this new program. Participation priority will be given to families receiving income assistance and/or families that have documented financial need.
“This program is a win for Texas families and children with special education needs, many of whom have endured education disruptions due to COVID-19,” said Abbott. “Education is vital to the future of every Texas child, and every student is entitled to a high-quality education. The SSES program further advances Texas’ mission to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. This innovative initiative builds on the services that students are already receiving at school, and provides additional resources and support at a pivotal moment in the lives of Texas families and their children.”