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COVID-19 In DFW May 23-May 29: Social Distancing Still Applies Outside, And Summer Camps Are Back

Keren Carrión

Also, unemployment claims in Texas fell to their lowest level in more than a year.

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

Saturday, May 29

Dallas Officials Remind Residents To Socially Distance Outdoors

The City of Dallas Office of Emergency Management is encouraging residents to safely enjoy parks and trails as the weather gets warmer. Visitors are advised to follow federal safety guidelines, keep six feet of distance between themselves and others and to stay home if they're sick.

Friday, May 28

Dallas County Reports 102 Cases, Two Deaths

The two deaths give Dallas County a total of 4,053. The deaths were of a woman in her 50s and a woman in her 80s, and both had underlying high-risk health conditions.

The provisional seven-day average of daily new confirmed and probable cases for the weeks ending May 15 was 143, which is a rate of 5.4 daily new cases per 100,000 residents. Over the past two weeks, rates of new COVID-19 diagnoses in Addison and Balch Springs have been about 50% higher than county-wide case rates. Rates of new COVID-19 diagnoses in Cedar Hill, Coppell, and Mesquite have been about 30% higher than county-wide case rates.

Tarrant County Reports 79 Cases, Five Deaths

The deaths include two men from Fort Worth in their 80s, a man from Arlington in his 80s, a woman from Fort Worth in her 70s, and a man from Fort Worth in his 60s. All had underlying health conditions.

Tarrant County now has 3,505 confirmed deaths and 254,413 people have recovered.

Denton County Reports 26 Cases, Four Deaths

The deaths included three people in their 70s, and a person in their 80s. Denton County now has a total of 590 deaths and 76,046 cases.

Texas Has Shifted To Fulfilling Vaccine Orders Instead Of Allocating Specific Numbers

Demand for COVID-19 vaccine has gone down across Texas, and so the state is changing how vaccine doses are allocated to providers.

Imelda Garcia is chair of the state's COVID-19 Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel. She talked with public radio's Texas Standard:

"We have shifted to where providers just order what they need for that particular week. And so we're no longer allocating to providers, they simply tell us the amount that they want, and then we help facilitate that."

Garcia said this will help smaller providers receive a more manageable number of doses.

CDC Issues Summer Camp Guidance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised earlier guidelines regarding mask use and vaccinations at summer camps. The agency now says that at camps where everyone has been fully vaccinated, masks are not necessary, nor is physical distancing – except where required by local law.

Some 2.5 million adolescents aged 12-15 have been vaccinated since the Pfizer vaccine was approved for this group earlier in May.

At camps where not everyone is vaccinated, the guidance says, vaccinated people do not need masks. But unvaccinated people are “strongly encouraged” to wear masks indoors, though it is not mandatory. The CDC advises unvaccinated children and adults to wear masks outdoors in crowds.

Read the full story here.

Texas Unemployment Claims Fell To Lowest Level In a Year

The US Labor Department reported Thursday that initial unemployment claims in Texas last week fell to their lowest level in more than a year.

23,206 Texans filed first-time jobless claims for the week ending May 22. That's down 15% from the week before. It is also the lowest number of claims filed in a single week since mid-March of last year, when statewide lockdowns began in response to COVID-19.

Texas still has a long way to go before recovering all of the jobs lost since then. The Texas Workforce Commission reported issuing more than a million unemployment checks in the past 10 days. Those payments included an additional $300 in weekly benefits allocated by Congress.

Gov. Greg Abbott plans to halt the extra jobless aid for workers in late June, about two months before the federal pandemic program expires.

Thursday, May 27

Dallas County Reports 160 Cases, Four Deaths

The deaths reported Thursday included people who ranged in age from their 80s to their 90s. All had underlying high-risk health conditions. An additional 14 cases of COVID variants have also been diagnosed in Dallas County residents. There have been 108 total cases of variants diagnosed, with the largest portion being the B.1.1.7 variant (85 cases).

Tarrant County Reports 69 Cases, Five Deaths

The deaths includes a woman from Fort Worth who exceeded 90, a woman from Grapevine in her 70s, two women from Arlington in their 60s, and a man from Fort Worth in his 60s. All had underlying health conditions.

Tarrant County now has 3,500 confirmed deaths and 254,261 people have recovered.

Denton County Reports 67 Cases, Eight Deaths

The eight deaths give Denton County a total of 586. The deaths reported Thursday included people who ranged in age from their 40s to their 80s, and one person was a resident of a long-term care facility.

Of the 67 cases reported Thursday, 44 are active cases.

Fort Worth ISD Offering $1,000 Bonus To Summer Staff

Fort Worth ISD will pay teachers and others a $1,000 stipend on top of their usual daily or hourly rate of pay for staffing a program they're call Summer Launch.

The program is designed to help students catch up or accelerate their learning and recover credits lost due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. It will include both academic and enrichment activities (STEM, arts, and more), and all courses will have a math or literary focus.

“This has been a different kind of year, so we are taking a different kind of approach," Superintendent Kent P. Scribner. "We need all hands on deck this summer."

The District is hiring current Fort Worth ISD employees who serve as teachers, administrators, clerks, counselors, nurses, and campus monitors for the Summer Launch Program. They are seeking teachers at all levels, but have a targeted need for middle school English and math teachers, and high school English, math, biology, U.S. history and credit recovery teachers. At the elementary level, the District is looking for regular program and bilingual teachers.

Wednesday, May 26

Texas Expands Mobile Vaccination Program

The Texas mobile COVID-19 vaccination program is expanding to groups of five or more people, including families and friends.

The program was previously limited to homebound Texans and to businesses or civic organizations with at least 10 willing recipients.

The phone number to sign up is 844-90-TEXAS.

About a third of the Texas population's fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Fort Worth ISD Approves New COVID-19 Guidelines

The new rules mean students 12 years and older, and employees who are fully vaccinated; are no longer required to wear a mask or practice social distancing.

Students under 12 years old will still need to wear a mask indoors — but can take them off when they're outside.

The updated guidance applies to all Fort Worth ISD buildings and school buses.

Dallas County Reports 145 New Cases & 8 Deaths

“The numbers continue to improve but when you look at them closely, it's really a tale of two cities: the city of the vaccinated and the city that has not been vaccinated," Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said on Twitter.

1 More Death & 84 New Cases In Tarrant County

Tarrant County health officials today report 84 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, and one death. There's been a cumulative total of 260,495 cases and 3,495 deaths in the county.

Denton Reports 57 New Cases

Another 57 cases bring the total to 75,959, including 578 deaths. There have been 112 newly recovered cases in the area, increasing the countywide recovery total to 72,630.

Tuesday, May 25

District 6 Hosts Free Vaccination Event In Northwest Dallas

The free vaccine event at San Juan Diego Catholic Church in northwest Dallas continues Wednesday. The church is located at 10919 Royal Haven. Registration is not required, and the Pfizer vaccine is being given to anyone 12 and up. Minors (age 12-17) must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Dallas County Reports 152 New Cases & 9 More Deaths

Of the 152 new cases in Dallas County today, 69 are confirmed cases and 83 are probable. There's been a cumulative total of 260,277 confirmed cases in Dallas County, including 4,039 deaths.

The nine residents' whose deaths were reported today ranged in age from their 40s to their 80s. They all had underlying high-risk health conditions.

95 New COVID-19 Cases In Denton County

There are 95 new cases of COVID-19 in Denton County, of which 69 are active cases. This increases the cumulative, countywide total to 75,902 cases, including 578 deaths.

Tarrant County: 147 New Cases

The 147 new cases in Tarrant County bring the countywide, cumulative total to 260,411 new cases, including 3,494 deaths.

Kroger Allowing Fully Vaccinated Customers To Go Maskless

In an email sent to customers today, Kroger said customers who are fully vaccinated can shop in-store without face masks as long as that's in accordance with local laws.

"Since the start of the pandemic, we've followed CDC recommendations to help ensure the safety of our customers and associates," the grocery chain said in an email. "In accordance with the CDC's new guidelines, fully vaccinated people are no longer required to wear masks in our stores."

The email did not indicate that Kroger will ask customers for proof of vaccination. It did specify that gully vaccinated means that the individual has received the manufacturer required number of doses and is two weeks past their final dose.

The company will also continue to provide pick up and delivery options for customers who don't want to shop in-store.

Some Texas Schools Dropping Mask Mandates Before Gov. Abbott's Deadline

Texas school districts are banned from requiring masks on campus starting June 5 following an order from the Gov. Abbott.

Belton ISD, near Waco, made masks optional starting today. The district's board of trustees on Monday debated keeping the pandemic precaution until the end of the school year, but board member Suzanne McDonald said their hands were tied.

"We want to do what's best for all of our kids, but at the same time we don't want to oppose anything that's going to cause us a financial burden as well."

Public schools can face fines for violating the order.

Monday, May 24

Dallas County Reports 201 Cases, Eight Deaths

The eight deaths give Dallas County a total of 4,030. The deaths reported Monday included people who ranged in age from their 60s to their 90s, and all had underlying high-risk health conditions.

Tarrant County Reports 106 Cases, Four Deaths

The deaths include a man from Fort Worth in his 80s, a man from Fort Worth in his 70s, a man from Benbrook in his 60s, and a man from Haltom City in his 30s. All had underlying health conditions.

Tarrant County now has 3,494 total deaths and 253,745 people have recovered.

Denton County Reports 119 Cases, Three Deaths

Denton County now has a total of 578 deaths. The deaths reported Monday included a man in his 60s, a man in his 70s, and a woman in her 80s who was a resident of a long-term health care facility. Of the 119 cases reported, 93 are active cases.

COVID Deaths Continue To Climb In India

The COVID-19 death toll in India has passed 300,000 as a surge of new infections appears to be easing in big cities.

The virus isn’t finished with India by any means. As megacities such as Mumbai and New Delhi see some improvement, the virus appears to be taking a ghastly toll in the country’s vast rural areas.

Volunteers here in Texas are working to ship ventilators and other medical equipment to India amid the deadly surge in cases there.

Gitesh Desai with Sewa International's Houston chapter said since April, the Hindu faith-based nonprofit has raised millions of dollars to help.

“Oxygen concentrators, ventilators, oximeters … so many other items that are needed on the ground.”

Desai said Sewa's also distributing flyers on COVID-19 prevention and coordinating telehealth care.

KERA's Stella M. Chávez talked with a Texas family who recently returned home after being stuck in India for more than a year due to the U.S.' temporary travel ban.

Read more about their story.

Texas Unemployment Sees Modest Drop

​​​Texas unemployment dropped slightly in April, but still lags behind the nation as a whole.

The Texas Workforce Commission reports today the state's seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell 0.2 points in April to 6,7%. That's higher than the national rate, which held steady last month at 6.1%.

Some parts of Texas are faring better than others: the Amarillo, Austin and College Station areas remained at or below 4.4%. Meanwhile, jobless rates in the McAllen, Odessa and Beaumont areas stood close to or above 10%.

Texas added a net 13,000 non-agricultural jobs last month, including a big increase in leisure and hospitality hiring. The gains were offset by losses in construction, manufacturing and mining and logging, which includes the oil and gas industry.

Sunday, May 23

Dallas County Reports 85 New Cases, 5 Deaths
Dallas County Health and Human Services is reporting 85 new cases -- 57 confirmed and 25 probable. There is a total of 260,037 confirmed cases and a total of 42,413 probable cases.

Tarrant County Adds 68 New Cases
Tarrant County Public Health is reporting 68 new cases. The total number of cases now stands at 260,158.

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

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