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COVID-19 In DFW April 25-May 2: Herd Immunity Estimates Pushed Back In Dallas County

A line of voters stand outside a building waiting for their turn to vote.
LM Otero/AP
/
AP
Wearing face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, voters line up to cast their ballot during early voting Tuesday, April 27, 2021, in Mansfield.

The state also resumes distributing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and other efforts to vaccinate the public are ramped up.

For the latest on the pandemic in North Texas, visit KERA News' COVID-19 Live Updates page.

Saturday, May 1

Tarrant County Reports 183 New Cases, 2 Deaths

Tarrant County now has a cumulative total of 3,421 confirmed deaths from COVID-19. County officials also report 249,270 people have recovered.

Dallas County Reports 165 New Cases, 5 Deaths

The 5 deaths reported Saturday give Dallas County a cumulative total of 3,900. Saturday’s deaths include people who ranged in age from their 20s to their 80s.

More Than 7 Million Texans Fully Vaccinated

The Texas Department of State Health Services reports 7,788,050 people are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. More than 11 million Texans have received at least one dose.

Friday, April 30

Dallas County Reports 361 Cases, Eight Deaths

The eight deaths give Dallas County a cumulative total of 3,895. The deaths reported Friday include people who ranged in age from their 40s to their 90s, and all had underlying high-risk health conditions. A case of the P.2 variant, originating from Brazil, has also been confirmed in a resident of Dallas County, fifth variant found in the county.

Tarrant County Reports 271 Cases, Two Deaths

The deaths include a man from North Richland Hills in his 80s, and a woman from Fort Worth in her 80s. Both had underlying health conditions. Tarrant County now has 3,419 deaths and 249,056 people have recovered.

Denton County Reports 103 Cases

Of the 103 cases reported Friday, 100 are active cases. Denton County also reported 91 newly recovered cases. There have been a total of 488 deaths in the county.

Texas House Lifts Mask Requirements

The Texas House removed a requirement Thursday that people wear face masks on the House floor and during House committee meetings for the remainder of the legislative session that ends May 31. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still suggest that people wear masks in public places, especially indoors.

House Resolution 333, by state Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress, rescinded the chamber’s mask requirement which was established in the House rules in February. The resolution was passed in a 99-46 vote.

The decision comes as about three quarters of the state still isn’t fully vaccinated. Despite that number, Texas now has plenty of coronavirus vaccine shots. Although average new cases and hospitalizations in Texas have decreased since January's highs, health experts advise people to keep masking and get vaccinated.

Read more at the Texas Tribune.

Thursday, April 29

City Of Dallas Announces Pop-Up Clinics And Neighborhood Vaccine Initiative

Mayor Eric Johnson on Thursday announced the creation of the Mayor’s Neighborhood Vaccine Initiative, a partnership with private providers to distribute COVID-19 vaccines at neighborhood pop-up events.

The initiative is separate from city efforts, which Mayor Johnson oversees as the state-designated Emergency Management Director. The city is also exploring more neighborhood-based strategies to distribute its vaccines. And earlier this week, the City announced it no longer requires appointments at its vaccination hub at The Potter’s House.

Mayor Johnson and the Caring Foundation of Texas, through its Care Van program, will co-host three vaccination events in the coming days. The first will be Friday at Bishop Arts Theatre Center in North Oak Cliff. The second will be Saturday at LG Pinkston High School in West Dallas. The third event is scheduled for Tuesday at Jubilee Park Community Center in South Dallas.

The Bishop Arts Theatre event will begin at 10 a.m. Friday. The theatre is located at 215 S Tyler St, Dallas, TX 75208. To preregister, visit http://app.blockitnow.com/consumer/carevan/npi/4302021.

The LG Pinkston event is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday. The high school is located at 2200 Dennison St, Dallas, TX 75212. To preregister, visit http://app.blockitnow.com/consumer/carevan/npi/5012021

The Jubilee Park clinic will begin at 1 p.m. Tuesday. The Jubilee Park Community Center is located at 907 Bank St, Dallas, TX 75223. To preregister, visit http://app.blockitnow.com/consumer/carevan/npi/5042021

Dallas County Reports 268 Cases, Six Deaths

The six deaths give Dallas County a cumulative total of 3,887. The deaths reported Thursday included people who ranged in age from their 50s to their 80s, and one person received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine but was on immunosuppressant medication.

Tarrant County Reports 175 Cases, Six Deaths

The deaths include a woman from North Richland Hills in her 80s, a man from Fort Worth in his 70s, a woman from Haltom City in her 60s, a woman from Arlington in her 60s, a woman from Fort Worth in her 60s, and a man from Fort Worth in his 50s. All had underlying health conditions. Tarrant County now has 3,417 total deaths.

Denton County Reports 88 Cases

Of the 88 cases reported Thursday, 87 are active cases. Denton County also reported 103 newly recovered cases, bringing that total to 70,274. There have been 488 deaths in the county.

Alcohol To-Go Helped Keep Some Restaurants Afloat During The Pandemic, And It Might Become Permanent

Texas lawmakers are sending a bill to Gov. Greg Abbott that would permanently let people buy alcohol to go from restaurants in the state. North Texas Republican Kelly Hancock was the bill's sponsor in the Texas Senate. He said allowing alcohol to go helped keep restaurants afloat during the pandemic and will help them recover.

"What we literally saw was once this provision was placed in the pandemic we saw restaurants that were closed down open back up and unfortunately what we've seen during the pandemic is approximately 15 percent of our restaurants have not made it, but I can assure you without this provision that number would have been greater," Hancock said.

Gov. Abbott issued a waiver last March allowing to-go alcohol sales.

Fort Worth Organizations Host Local Video Display, Encouraging Residents To Get Vaccine

The Texas Department of State Health Services is hosting a COVID-19 vaccine outreach display on Thursday to encourage Fort Worth residents to get vaccinated.

The display will feature an outdoor video wall in the Walmart parking lot on Anderson Boulevard in Fort Worth. The 16-foot-tall video wall will include information about the vaccine and its effectiveness, in addition to addressing common concerns people have about getting the shot.

Community organizations like Morningside Prayer Center, are working with officials to ensure that information about the vaccines is available for all in the community.

“This past year has been hard on everyone,” said Elder Helen Epps, the church director at Morningside Prayer. “By getting the shot, Texans are doing their part to get our lives back to normal.”

Dr. Kenton Murthy, Tarrant County’s deputy health authority, said the vaccine are working.

“The vaccines were tested in clinical trials with diverse races and ethnicities and are highly effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death,” he said.

State To Address Learning Loss With $11 Billion In Federal Stimulus Money

Top state leaders have announced they're releasing more than $11 billion in federal stimulus money to Texas public schools to help students recover from learning loss during the pandemic.

The announcement comes as education advocates and Democratic lawmakers have been urging officials in recent weeks to release the money.

There's still $7 billion additional dollars in federal stimulus money allocated to Texas, but the state can't spend it unless it meets a federal requirement to maintain both higher education spending and public education funding at the same scope it was in 2017-2019.

Texas would have to increase higher education spending by more than a billion dollars to meet the requirement and unlock the stimulus money.

The governor has applied for a federal waiver to Texas bypass that requirement.

Gov. Abbott Encourages Texans To Get Their Second Vaccine Dose In A Video

Governor Greg Abbott says it’s important Texans who received the first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines go back and get their second shot.

He tweeted a video Tuesday.

“With both doses, you can help better protect us against COVID-19, and you can help us put an end to this pandemic," he said. "So, make sure you go get your second dose.”

As of this month, the CDC is reporting that nearly 8% of Americans have not returned for their second dose of the two-dose shots. That’s about 5 million people.

Still, some health experts say that number may not take into account other factors, like someone getting fully vaccinated at two different locations.

Advocates Want Early Detection For Mental Illness

Mental health advocates are calling on lawmakers to support the early detection, treatment and prevention of mental illness.

Andy Keller is President and CEO of Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, based in Dallas. He testified on Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

Keller says the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened existing challenges, like mental illness and substance use.

"Equity, workforce, and telehealth also have to be addressed, but the main lesson is that in less than a year we showed the world that we can learn how to detect, treat and prevent a novel disease we have never seen before," Keller said. "We can do the same for mental illness and addiction."

Keller called on lawmakers to provide funding to expand access to mental health treatment.

Wednesday, April 28

Data Firm Pushes Back Estimate For Herd Immunity In Dallas County

Herd immunity for COVID-19 in Dallas County may be further off due to the slowing pace of vaccinations, according to a new estimate from the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation.

Younger people — aged 18 to 50 — aren’t taking up vaccines as quickly as their parents and grandparents.

“In Dallas County [we] have started to plateau in those age groups already,” said Steve Miff, president and CEO of PCCI, a data firm affiliated with Parkland Hospital. “So the growth is not as significant as we’ve seen in the older population.”

Miff said it could be July before Dallas County achieves herd immunity, later than previously projected.

Reaching herd immunity means new infections can be swiftly contained. Miff said getting there through vaccinations — and quickly — is crucial so new variants of COVID-19 don’t have the chance to take hold.

According to Dallas County, new COVID-19 cases are seeing a shift toward younger patients, and only about 25% of people age 16 to 30 have received at least one dose of a vaccine. By contrast, the “vast majority” of residents 65 and over have received at least one dose.

“I strongly encourage everyone who’s yet to make up their mind about the vaccine to … talk to their doctor & look at trusted medical websites & information,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said on Twitter on Tuesday. “Medicine uniformly supports vaccination to protect you & your community.”

350 New Cases & 9 Deaths In Dallas County

The 350 new cases in Dallas County today increases the cumulative total to 256,923 confirmed cases.

A total of 3,881 Dallas County residents have died due to COVID-19 illness. The people's whose deaths were reported today ranged in age from their 50s to their 80s. All had underlying health conditions.

Tarrant County Reports 145 Additional Cases

An additional 145 cases brings the total to 256,333. There have been 3,411 deaths and 248,548 people have recovered from the virus in the area.

Denton County Reports 79 New Cases

There are 79 new cases, raising the total to 74,149. Of the cases reported today, 77 are active cases.

The county also reported 134 newly recovered cases, increasing the countywide recovery total to 70,171.

CDC: 1 In 4 Texans Are Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19

One Texan in every four has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, federal health officials said Tuesday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said 37% of the state’s population had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Associated Press.

State health officials said 4,191 new COVID-19 cases and 49 new COVID-19 deaths were reported Tuesday. That brought the state’s pandemic death toll to 49,973, or 174 per 100,000 population, Johns Hopkins University researchers said. Those deaths come from almost 3.1 million cases tabulated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The state’s pandemic death toll remains the nation’s third-highest, and its per capita death rate is the nation’s 23rd highest, according to Johns Hopkins data. Over the past two weeks, the data show the rolling average number of daily new Texas cases has decreased by almost 240, a decrease of almost 7%.

Tuesday, April 27

Texas House To Vote On Dropping Mask Mandate For Lawmakers

Texas lawmakers may no longer be required to wear masks on the House floor or during committee meetings.

State Rep. Tom Oliverson (R-Houston) filed a measure to repeal the rule the lower chamber adopted to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

The Republican said the requirement isn't needed anymore with millions vaccinated and fewer COVID-19 patients.

"Just to give you some perspective, as of yesterday, there were 1,496 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed by testing with a seven day average of 3,341," Oliverson said. "In January, when we began session we had 29,000 new cases and a 22,000 seven-day average."

Today, the House Administration committee today advanced the measure to the full House.

The CDC still recommends that people, including those who are vaccinated, wear masks in indoor public spaces.

Dallas County Reports 175 New Cases

Another 175 cases raises the total to 256,693. Of the cases reported today, 132 are confirmed.

Ten deaths were reported today of residents in their 20s to 90s. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the county’s seeing more COVID cases among younger residents:

“Increasingly, our population of new COVID cases is trending younger due to the fact that the vast majority of the population 65 years of age and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine but only about 25% of those age 16 to 30 have received one dose. This also tends to be the group that is out and about the most and at most risk of contracting COVID either through their jobs or through social activity.”

6 Deaths In Denton County

The county reported another six deaths today including:

  • A man over 80 who was a resident of Prestonwood Court in Plano
  • A man over 80 who was a resident of Brookdale Denton North
  • A Denton man in his 70s
  • A Pilot Point male in his 70s
  • A Denton woman over 80
  • A Lewisville man in his 60s

An additional 146 cases were reported in the area, of which 140 are active cases. This increases the total number of cases to 74,071.

Tarrant County Announces 204 New Cases

There have been 204 additional cases, increasing the total to 256,188. There have been 3,404 deaths and 248,334 people who have recovered from the virus in the area.

Survey From Federal Reserve Bank Of Dallas Shows Economic Growth

The latest business outlook survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas shows robust growth in Texas manufacturing.

Senior business economist Emily Kerr said the state’s recovery is strong.

"Recovery in the Texas manufacturing sector remains in high gear, with measures of demand, employment, wages and prices reaching new highs in the survey’s 17-year history."

However, Kerr said 46% of manufacturers noted their current revenues are still down from a typical April, so there is still a ways to go before the industry has recovered to pre-pandemic levels of activity.

San Antonio To Send Out Johnson & Johnson Vaccine In Next Mobile Clinic

San Antonio Metro Health will begin sending out the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in its next mobile vaccination clinic next week.

Metro Health Assistant Director Anita Kurian said this particular vaccine is an important tool in the fight to end the pandemic.

“Because of the simplicity of this being a single dose, and the ease of storing and handling it at the remote locations, make it an ideal candidate to be used at our mobile clinic sites.”

San Antonio’s Wellmed will also make the Johnson & Johnson shot available again at two of its clinics starting Wednesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had recommended that vaccine providers stop offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine temporarily after six women who had received that shot experienced dangerous blood clots. One of them died. They lifted that pause on Friday.

Monday, April 26

Dallas County Reports 322 Cases, Nine Deaths

The nine deaths bring the cumulative countywide total to 3,862. The deaths reported Monday included people who ranged in age from their 40s to their 90s, and all had underlying health conditions.

Tarrant County Reports 128 Cases, Two Deaths

The deceased include a man from Euless in his 80s and a woman from Arlington in her 60s. Both had underlying conditions. Tarrant County now has 3,402 total deaths and 248,179 people have recovered.

Denton County Reports 132 Cases

Of the 132 cases reported Monday, 117 are active cases. Denton County also reported 286 newly recovered cases, bringing that total to 69,925. A total of 482 deaths have been reported in the county.

Many States, Including Texas, Resume Giving The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

A federal panel on Friday voted to lift the pause, saying the benefits of the vaccine outweighed any potential risk. A handful of the 7 million people who’ve had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine developed a rare occurrence of a specific type of blood clot. That’s what led to the pause in the first place.

Texas health officials said over the weekend that providers in the state should start using the supply of the J&J vaccine they have — and that more will be ordered.

Texas has seen a significant drop in the number of vaccines administered in the past two weeks. That’s despite fewer than half of eligible state residents having received at least one shot.

Read More: A Timeline Of COVID-19's Spread In North Texas

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