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COVID-19 In DFW May 16-May 22: Hospitalizations Have Plateaued In North Texas

Dr. Fauci.
Evan Vucci
Associated Press
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy listens as President Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 variant named omicron, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, in Washington.

A new variant was also found in North Texas, and some vaccines are spoiling because demand for shots has fallen.

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

Saturday, May 22

Tarrant County Reports 141 New Cases

Tarrant County has now seen a total of 260,090 cases of COVID-19. County officials also report 253,458 people have recovered.

Fort Worth Holds One-Day Vaccine Clinic For Teens, Family Members

The city of Fort Worth is sponsoring a COVID-19 vaccination clinic today for Fort Worth ISD students ages 12 to 15, as well as eligible family members. The event takes place today at the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex on West Felix Street from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Online registration is recommended, but officials say walk-ups will be accommodated.

Friday, May 21

Dallas County Reports 128 Cases, Eight Deaths

The eight deaths give Dallas County a total of 4,017. The deaths reported Friday included people who ranged in age from their 30s to their 90s. All but one person had underlying high-risk health conditions.

Tarrant County Reports 102 Cases, Four Deaths

The deaths include a man from Fort Worth in his 80s, a woman from Fort Worth in her 60s, a man from Arlington in his 60s, and a woman from Arlington in her 40s. All but one had underlying health conditions.

Tarrant County now has 3,477 confirmed deaths and 253,218 people have recovered.

Denton County Reports 39 Cases, One Death

Denton County now has 575 total deaths. Friday's reported death was of a man in his 80s who lived in a long-term care facility. Of the 39 cases reported, 23 are active cases.

COVID Hospitalizations Plateau in North Texas, UT-Southwestern Model Shows

A new forecasting model shows COVID-19 hospitalizations have plateaued in North Texas.

The model from UT-Southwestern reports COVID hospitalization numbers are more manageable now compared to any point since the beginning of the pandemic. But experts say hospitalizations could increase if people return to pre-pandemic behavior – and if people don’t get vaccinated.

The report finds that people under the age of 50 now make up the largest share of hospital admissions in Dallas and Tarrant Counties. As a result, officials said it’s important to increase vaccination rates among younger people.

The report used cellphone data to determine that mobility is near pre-pandemic levels in some North Texas counties as people are out and about more to shop or work, go to grocery stores and visit parks.

Peace Corps Volunteers Train In Dallas To Help With COVID Vaccination Efforts

Volunteers with the Peace Corps have been in Dallas this week for training as they venture out nationwide to help with COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

The effort is a partnership between the Peace Corps and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Volunteers will provide translation support, as well as administrative and logistical assistance at FEMA vaccination centers.

“This is a great partnership,” said Sarah Dietch, director of Peace Corps Response.

“These 158 Peace Corps Response volunteers are going to serve short-term assignments alongside FEMA and really make a difference.”

Donald Blair, a Peace Corps Response volunteer, is looking forward to helping out.

“It's something that we can all look back years from now and go ‘this is something I did to help out,’” he said.

“We all have to have all hands on deck when it comes to this time period that we're in.”

This is the second time in Peace Corps history that volunteers will serve a domestic deployment. The first was following Hurricane Katrina.

As Demands For COVID-19 Plummets, Vaccines Spoil

About 60% of COVID-19 vaccine doses that have spoiled since the Texas vaccination program began in December have were wasted in the past two weeks.

The roughly 36,000 vaccine doses were a small fraction of the state's vaccine allotment, but a Houston Chronicle analysis indicates demand for the vaccine is plummeting in Texas.

"About 37 percent of all Americans are fully vaccinated. But in Texas only 33 percent are fully vaccinated," said Allison Winnike, who heads the Texas-based non-profit Immunization Partnership.

The state reports it's administering about 144,000 vaccinations daily. This is less than half of last month's 290,000 vaccination peak.

Only one in three Texans have been fully vaccinated, according to state data, and 42% have received at least one dose.

Thursday, May 20

UT Southwestern IDs First New Variant Cases In North Texas

UT Southwestern Medical Center has identified the first two cases of the B.1.617.2 (Indian origin) variant of COVID-19 infection in North Texas.

A press release from UT Southwestern said that sequencing protocols show the U.K. variant (B.1.1.7) remains dominant in North Texas — found in about 70 percent of sampled individuals —followed by the Indian (B.1.617.2) and Brazil variants (P.1) found in 6 percent. The California (B.1.429) and New York (B.1.526) variants remain at about 3 percent of sampled individuals.

Dallas County Reports 90 New Cases, 3 Deaths

Another 90 cases in the area raises the total to 259,892. Three deaths were reported today including: a Dallas man in his 50s, a Dallas man in his 60s, a Wilmer woman in her 60s and a Desoto man in his 70s.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins urged residents who haven’t been fully vaccinated to continue wearing their masks despite the lifting of local mask mandates:

“With the mask mandates lifted at local government buildings, and soon public schools, it’s important that we all consider not what is legally permissible but what is safe according to doctors and the CDC.

Once you are fully vaccinated, you need not wear a mask although you are not prohibited from doing so. If you are not fully vaccinated, meaning it has not been two weeks since your last dose of vaccine, the CDC strongly recommends that you wear a mask to protect yourself and others in indoor settings except for in your own home.”

8 Deaths, 38 New Cases In Denton County

Eight deaths were reported in the area, including residents with ages that ranged from their 30s to 80s. There have been 38 new cases in the area, bringing the total to 75,656.

Another 67 newly recovered cases of the virus were also reported, increasing the countywide recovery total to 71,958.

Tarrant County Reports 150 Additional Cases

There are 150 new cases in the county, bringing the total to 259,847. In total, 3,473 deaths and 253,020 people have recovered from the virus in the area.

Texas Ranks 39th Among States In U.S. For Share Of People Getting Vaccinated

New data from the Kaiser Family Foundation ranked Texas 39th among states in the share of people vaccinated against COVID-19.

Allison Winnike is the head of the Texas-based nonprofit Immunization Partnership. She said Texas’ share of fully vaccinated residents is below the national average.

"About 37% of all Americans are fully vaccinated. But in Texas only 33% of Texans are fully vaccinated,” she said. “When you look down to Dallas County, it's slightly less, only about 32% of Dallas County residents are fully vaccinated."

Winnike partly blames vaccine hesitancy. She also worries the Governor's recent order ending mask mandates in schools may add to that hesitancy.

"It may provide a false sense of security that if masks aren't needed, then why would I need the vaccine either, and that's absolutely not the case."

Details on where to get a vaccine at

Wednesday, May 19

Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Ending Soon For Texans

Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas will stop offering a federal boost to jobless benefits at the end of June. The extra $300 per week was part of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program.

Abbott told the U.S. Department of Labor Texas will stop participating in the program effective June 26. He argues the state's economy is once again booming and employers are in search of workers to fill openings.

Last year, the pandemic plunged Texas' economy into a recession. Millions of people lost their jobs.

One small business advocacy group in Texas is praising Abbott's decision to opt out of the program.

"44% of our small business members said that they had positions open and they cannot fill the positions. And so we're just saying let's level the playing field," Annie Spillman with the National Federation of Independent Business said. "Let's get these folks back to work. It's good for their morale, it's good for building onto their career."

Critics of Abbott's decision say those federal payments of $300 a week are helping people dealing with the pandemic and child care needs.

Republican governors in other states, like Montana and Alabama, will also stop offering the additional payments early.

The American Rescue Plan that Congress passed earlier this year offers the federal boost in unemployment benefits until September.

Dallas County Reports 160 New Cases

An additional 160 cases raises the total to 259,821. A total of eight deaths were reported today, bringing the total to 4,005.

Over 469,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered at the Fair Park mega-vaccine clinic.

10 Deaths, 54 New Cases In Denton County

Ten deaths were reported in the county today, including residents with ages ranging from their 50s to 80s.

Another 54 cases were reported in the area, 33 of which are active. This raises the total cases to 75,621. There have also been 102 newly recovered cases, bringing the countywide recovery total to 71,902.

Tarrant County Reports 113 New Cases

There are 113 additional cases in the area, increasing the total to 259,697. There have been 3,472 deaths and 252,801 people who have recovered from the virus in the area.

Legislature Poised To Continue Pandemic Support For Special Education

A program launched during the pandemic to provide financial support to families of special education students could soon become permanent.

A bill advancing in the Texas Legislature extends the Supplemental Special Education Services program. It gives families 15-hundred-dollar grants to cover the cost of certain services and supplies.

“This program has already been successful. There are about 17,000 students currently eligible for the program, and 12,000 families have already applied. About 7,000 grants have been awarded," said Republican State Rep. Greg Bonnen, the bill’s House sponsor.

The House Public Education Committee on Tuesday sent the bill to the full House. The Senate has already passed it.

El Paso Congresswoman Wants Binational Vaccine Plan

Texas Congresswoman Veronica Escobar is urging the U.S. to establish a binational COVID-19 vaccination plan with Mexico.

Yesterday, the El Paso Democrat said it's unclear if the White House's plan to export 20 million vaccine doses to other countries will include Mexican border cities.

"The reality is that border communities like mine will not truly reach herd immunity until our Mexican sister cities also begin seeing increased vaccination rates," Escobar said.

El Paso's sister city Juárez ordered lockdowns last month due to a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

Tuesday, May 18

The City of Dallas is partnering with the Indian-American CEO Council and The Dallas Foundation to send $1 million worth of personal protective equipment to the Indian city of Jaipur.

India is in the midst of battling a devastating and deadly second wave of COVID-19.

"I know no help is good enough right now the way India is suffering and with this new variant is causing and havoc. The question became how do we make a difference?" Arun Agarwal, chair of the Indian-American CEO Council, said. "That's when mayor said let's do a city to city Connect. And as you know, that just sounded just so right."

The money will be used to buy masks and medical gloves.

Dallas mayor Eric Johnson says the city is encouraging residents to make cash contributions to the Indian American CEO Council's COVID-19 Relief Fund.

"When our community here in Dallas, was in the early stages of fighting this very same pandemic, our friends from around the world reached out with a helping hand, giving us PP and other needed supplies. And I will tell you, I will never, ever forget their generosity of friends now is time for our city to pay it forward,” Johnson said.

10 More Deaths In Denton County

The 10 additional deaths reported in Denton County today bring the total to 556 deaths due to COVID-19 in the county.

County health officials also reported 99 new cases of COVID-19 today, of which 69 are active cases. This increases the cumulative, countywide total to 75,568 COVID-19 cases. The countywide recovery total is 71,812.

Tarrant County Reports 137 New Case

Tarrant County now has a total of 259,584 cases and 3,472 deaths.

Monday, May 17

Fort Worth Pushing Pop Up Vaccine Clinics

If businesses and organizations in Tarrant County want to get people vaccinated against COVID-19 providers will bring the shots can now come to them.

Tarrant County Public Health is coordinating pop-up vaccine clinics in the area.

Officials say demand for the vaccine is waning. So instead of relying on mass vaccination sites, Tarrant County Public Health wants to go where the people are.

Businesses and organizations can now request a pop-up clinic.

The county and its partner organizations, including the UNT Health Science Center, JPS and Texas Health Resources, will bring the vaccine and all that it requires.

"We're gonna bring the nurses that are able to draw it. We have the refrigeration. We have all the needles and gloves and PPE and all that type of stuff that we're gonna need," Tarrant County Public Health spokesperson Brian Murnahan said. "So when it comes down to it, as far as when we roll up, we're gonna be self-sufficient."

He says lots of different groups can take advantage of this program -- small businesses, doctors' offices, and even homeowners' associations.

In order to get a pop-up clinic, organizers have to share estimated attendance, capacity, and a picture of the space they want to use.

Murnahan says the goal is to make getting vaccinated more convenient.

Texas Teens Start Getting Vaccinated Over The Weekend

Children 12 and older now have the federal OK to get the Pfizer COVID vaccine.

At a clinic in San Antonio, about 150 people showed up for vaccines over the weekend, many of them teens.

Joelle Kiniry is a nurse at the Communicare vaccine clinic at University United Methodist Church on San Antonio’s northside. She said the flow of patients was slow but steady.

“For the teenager, I think it's going to catch up a little bit more when parents see children are getting it, especially with wanting to do a normal activity for the summer," Kiniry said. I think they're going to, you know, come and get the vaccine.”

Nearly 17 million American children became eligible for the Pfizer shots last week.

She expects a growing number of young teens to get vaccinated over the next few weeks.

Dallas County Reports 407 New Cases

Another 407 cases raises the total to 259,657 cases. Of the cases reported, 288 cases are confirmed.

Nine deaths were reported today of people with ages ranging from their 60s to 90s. In the past 30 days, there were 1,106 COVID-19 cases reported in Dallas County students and staff.

87 Additional Cases In Tarrant County

An additional 87 cases in the area brings the total to 259, 447. There have been 3,472 deaths and 252,449 people have recovered from the virus in the area.

Denton County Announced 10 Deaths

Ten deaths were reported in the area today, bringing the total deaths in the area to 546. There have been 105 new cases reported today, of which 84 are active.

There have been 176 newly recovered cases, raising the countywide recovery total to 71,699.

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

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