As local officials work to determine the most efficient way to get COVID-19 vaccines to the most vulnerable residents and slow the spread of the virus, here’s what you need to know today:
- County reports 1,978 more COVID cases, 27 deaths;
- Dallas mayor orders creation of COVID-19 vaccine registration hubs;
- Dallas ISD hosts large STEM Expo this weekend.
County reports 1,978 More COVID Cases, 27 Deaths
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the county’s reported a cumulative total of 213,600 confirmed cases, 28,061 probable cases, and 1,944 deaths.
Among the deaths reported Thursday were a Dallas woman in her 30s, two Dallas men in their 50s, a Cockrell Hill man in his 50s, a Mesquite man in his 60s, two Dallas men in their 60s, a Rowlett man in his 60s who died in hospice, a Cedar Hill woman in her 60s, a Dallas man in his 60s who died at home, four Dallas women in their 70s, a Lancaster man in his 70s, a Grand Prairie man in his 70s, a Grand Prairie woman in her 70s, a Dallas man in his 80s, a Garland man in his 80s, and a Grand Prairie woman in her 90s.
Also among the deaths reported Thursday were a man in his 50s who lived at a Dallas long-term care facility who died at the facility where he lived, a man in his 70s who lived at a Dallas long-term care facility who died in a hospital emergency room, a woman in her 80s who lived at a Garland long-term care facility, a woman in her 80s who lived at a Richardson long-term care facility, a woman in her 80s who lived at an Irving long-term care facility who died in the facility where she lived, a woman in her 90s who lived at a Mesquite long-term care facility, and a woman in her 90s who lived at a Dallas long-term care facility who died in the facility where she lived.
“Everyday, thousands of people are vaccinated at the hub sites around Dallas County and everyday we work to get better at pinpointing hard-hit communities that have been historically medically underserved, areas that are seeing increased spread of COVID (primarily where essential workers reside), and the most vulnerable residents who statistically are far more likely to be hospitalized should they contract COVID,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Thursday. “With over 300,000 people registered, and more registering every hour, and only 9,000 shots available at Fair Park each week, and a little over 30,000 shots available at all hub sites from UTSW, Baylor Hospital, City of Garland, DCHHS, and Parkland, there is much more demand than there are shots.”
However, Jenkins said he’s hopeful the county will begin to receive more doses soon.
“We are all hoping this improves with President Biden promising 100 million shots in 100 days and promising to invoke the Defense Production Act to speed production of vaccines and materials, as well as asking Congress to pass a bill to send more resources and money to state and local government for vaccine distribution,” he said. “Additionally, Johnson and Johnson is seeking an emergency use authorization for a single-dose vaccine, which if approved, would double the vaccine capacity we are currently seeing with only Moderna and Pfizer available in the United States. All of these things should dramatically increase our vaccine allotment over time, but for now, it’s important to sign up wherever you can and be patient.”
In the meantime, as vaccines continue to roll out, Jenkins said it’s important to continue to follow public health measures to slow the spread.
“It’s also important in these darkest months when our hospitals are full, when our ICU beds are scarce, and when spread is rampant, to wear your mask, wash your hands, avoid crowds and forgo get-togethers,” he said. “If we all work together, we’ll begin to see an improvement in March and it will keep getting better as more and more people are vaccinated. But for now, all of us must do our part to make good decisions and to keep our community and our country strong until the vaccine can get us to herd immunity.”
The county reported there were 1,148 COVID-19 patients in hospitals Wednesday and 558 emergency room visits for COVID-19 like symptoms in Dallas County during the same time, which represents around 22 percent of all emergency department visits in the county according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council.
UT Southwestern Medical Center’s data projects hospitalizations in Dallas and Tarrant Counties will stay flat over the next two weeks.
UTSW’s data also shows COVID-19 hospitalizations increased by 11% in the past two weeks in the county.
UTSW’s model projects total COVID-19 hospitalizations could reach between 940 and 1,470 concurrent hospitalized cases by Feb. 2, with roughly 2,700 new COVID-19 infections per day expected by Feb. 2.
Over the past 30 days, the county says there have been 7,284 COVID-19 cases in school-aged children and staff reported from 678 separate K-12 schools, with 1,842 of these cases reported during the last week of December.
One COVID-19 outbreak in a school in December originated with spread among 11 staff members, with transmission to 10 students, and subsequent additional COVID-19 infections documented among at least 13 household members of these students and staff. One death and one hospitalization occurred from this outbreak.
As of Thursday, Highland Park ISD reported three cases among staff members assigned to Armstrong Elementary, one case in a student at Boone, two cases among staff members assigned to Bradfield, two among students there, two among students at Hyer, one in a student at University Park, one case in a staff member assigned to McCulloch Intermediate, five among students there, three among students at Highland Park Middle School, one in a staff member assigned to Highland Park High School, and 11 among students there, according to the district’s COVID-19 webpage.
Also, as of Thursday, Dallas ISD reported 3,508 cases districtwide, 1,739 among campus staff, 380 among central staff, and 1,389 among students, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Additionally, the county says there are 114 active long-term care facility outbreaks.
A total of 3,453 residents and 1,982 healthcare workers in long-term facilities in Dallas have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Of these, 717 have been hospitalized and 386 have died. About 22% of all deaths reported to date have been associated with long-term care facilities.
The county also reported 28 outbreaks of COVID-19 in congregate-living facilities like homeless shelters, group homes, and halfway homes in the past 30 days associated with 120 cases.
Dallas Mayor Orders Creation of COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Hubs
Mayor Eric Johnson Thursday approved a plan to set up vaccination registration hubs in underserved areas of Dallas.
The exact locations of the hubs will be determined by the city’s Emergency Management Coordinator, Rocky Vaz, who has analyzed data from the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation, the Community Health Needs Assessment, and City of Dallas Office of Equity. The data measures internet accessibility, computer availability, and the vulnerability of residents in the city’s ZIP codes.
“Although COVID-19 vaccine distribution is currently Dallas County’s responsibility, it is important to me that we get as many people signed up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as possible because these inoculations will save lives,” said Johnson, who serves as the city’s Emergency Management Director. “It is also critical for our city government to make decisions that are based on data and facts rather than on politics or anyone’s gut feeling. That is what good government does, and it is what our community demands from us.
“This plan accomplishes that goal — and it does so in the right way.”
After the hub locations are determined, Vaz will then ask appropriate city councilmembers and the mayor to solicit volunteers to help at the sites.
Since the Fair Park mass-vaccination site was stood up on Jan. 11, about 17,000 doses had been given through Thursday morning. Also, during its first week, there were mixed messages about who could get shots there.
Dallas ISD Hosts Large STEM Expo This Weekend
On Saturday, Jan. 23, Dallas ISD will host its annual STEM Expo, which will be held virtually this year due to the pandemic. The free expo will bring families together to explore, design, build and let their creativity loose. Exhibits will include activities and competitions for elementary, middle, and high school students and parents.
As part of the expo, a panel of UT Southwestern medical experts will share their insight on COVID-19 and answer questions from the public. To register for the expo, visit www.dallasisd.org/stemexpo.