As the U.S. reaches the grim milestone of 500,000 deaths from COVID-19, and the local vaccination efforts remain hampered by supply issues, here’s what you need to know today:
- Dallas County awaiting additional vaccine doses;
- Dallas COVID-19 vaccine distributions to resume this week;
- Red Cross calls for healthy blood donors following severe weather.
Dallas County awaiting more vaccine doses
Dallas County Monday reported 348 more COVID-19 cases – 270 confirmed cases and 78 probable – and 18 additional deaths.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the county’s reported a cumulative total of 243,040 confirmed cases, 34,253 probable cases, and 2,856 deaths.
Each of those reported among the deaths Monday were in their 50s or older. Most had underlying conditions.
“Our new case count is still low from the lack of reporting due to the weather but should return to accurate numbers soon,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
Dallas County continued vaccinating people due for their second dose at Fair Park Monday, but ran out and won’t be able to continue operating until they receive another shipment of vaccine.
“We will determine how many people due for their second dosage we can vaccinate this week after we see how many vaccines will be in this next shipment,” Jenkins said Monday. “As soon as we know something, we will share through social media, text messages, or email to those still needing their second shot. I know today was frustrating as some of you got in line but were not able to get a shot. Unfortunately, we ran out of shots quickly due to demand.”
He also said he hopes the state will reverse its decision to divert 42,000 vaccines from Dallas and Tarrant Counties to send them to other parts of the state.
“These vaccines would help the other zip codes in North Texas. The state’s decision leaves North Texans, who patiently waited on the list, without a likely opportunity to get a shot for several weeks,” Jenkins said.
The conty’s given 43,823 first doses at the Fair Park mega-vaccine site since it opened in January.
The Ellis Davis Field House and Dallas College – Eastfield campus COVID-19 vaccine drive-through locations operated by Parkland were also closed until Monday because of the storm.
UT Southwestern Medical Center’s data shows visits to grocery stores were up, but visits to workplaces and nonessential retailers were down through Feb. 13.
While there were gaps in hospitalization and testing data because of the storm, UTSW’s latest model includes last week’s forecast and updated mobility data.
UTSW’s latest model projects total COVID-19 hospitalizations could reach between 420 and 680 concurrent hospitalized cases by Feb. 26, and roughly 1,000 new COVID-19 infections per day are expected by Feb. 26.
The county also reported 90 active long-term care facility outbreaks. A cumulative total of 4,155 residents and 2,315 healthcare workers in long-term facilities in Dallas have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Of these, 921 have been hospitalized and 555 have died. About 22% of all deaths reported to date have been associated with long- term care facilities.
There were also 14 outbreaks of COVID-19 in congregate-living facilities, such as homeless shelters, group homes, and halfway homes, reported in the past 30 days. A cumulative total of 385 residents and 194 staff members in congregate-living facilities in Dallas have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
A total of 466 children in Dallas County under 18 years of age have been hospitalized since the beginning of the pandemic, including 37 patients diagnosed with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children (MIS-C). Over 80% of reported MIS-C cases in Dallas have occurred in children who are Hispanic, Latino, or Black. One death of a teacher in a K-12 school from COVID-19 was also confirmed this past week, according to the county.
Dallas COVID-19 vaccine distributions to resume this week
While vaccination operations are paused until the county receives more supply, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said Monday vaccine distribution resumes at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center today.
The city of Dallas will give out 2,500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines between Tuesday and Wednesday. Methodist Dallas Medical Center, which partnered with the city, will distribute 2,500 first-dose vaccines this week as well. Those vaccine doses were initially set to be distributed last week before inclement weather, water accessibility issues, and prolonged power outages debilitated the state.
After the first doses are distributed, the city will then begin the process of administering second doses to those vaccinated in previous weeks. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the city will give out 3,000 second doses of the Pfizer vaccine at the convention center. Methodist will provide the other 2,000 second doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Beginning Sunday, the city will distribute 5,000 second doses of the Moderna vaccine at the convention center.
The vaccine will continue to be distributed on an invitation-only, appointment-only basis. Only people who are registered on Dallas County’s wait list or who previously received their first dose from the city’s allotment will be invited, and people are asked to not show up at either site unless they have a direct invitation. To register for the wait list, visit DallasCountyCovid.org or call 1-855-IMMUNE9 (855-466-8639) between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week.
“While last week’s crisis set us back in our efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic, I am pleased that we are able to resume our vaccine distributions this week,” Johnson said. “The city of Dallas is ready to both help our people recover from the awful winter storms and to give out as many vaccines as we possibly can, as quickly as we can.”
For more information on COVID-19, the city’s response, and answers to frequently asked questions about the virus and the vaccine, visit DallasCityHall.com/coronavirus.
Red Cross Calls for healthy blood donors following severe weather
Following record-breaking cold and winter storms that forced the cancellation of more than 10,000 blood and platelet donations in parts of the U.S. in February, the American Red Cross is urging healthy individuals, especially those with type O blood, to give now to ensure blood products are available for patient emergencies.
Individuals are urged to make appointments to donate in the coming days and weeks by downloading the Red Cross blood donor app, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.
The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether an individual developed COVID-19 symptoms. Red Cross antibody tests will help identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies and may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors that have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus. Plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for high levels of COVID-19 antibodies may be used to help COVID-19 patients.
COVID-19 antibody test results will be available within one to two weeks in the Red Cross blood donor app or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity. The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation.
Among the blood donation opportunities from Feb. 22 to March 15 is one from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 7 at Walnut Hill Church – a ministry of Lovers Lane United Methodist Church at 10066 Marsh Lane.
For more, visit RedCrossBlood.org.