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COVID-19 In DFW July 4-July 10: Dallas County Reaches Herd Immunity, But Delta Variant Still Looms

mural of nurse posed like Rosie the Riveter
LM Otero
/
Associated Press

The county reached the 80% threshold the week of July 4, but 45 ZIP codes are still below the mark. The calculation comes from the percentage of people who have been vaccinated and those with natural immunity after recovering from the disease.

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

Saturday, July 10

Tarrant County Reports 111 New Cases

Tarrant County has now seen a total of 264,354 cases of COVID-19. County officials also report 258,688 people have recovered.

More Than 12 Million Texans Fully Vaccinated

The Texas Department of State Health Services reports 12,138,180 people are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. More than 14 million Texans have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

Friday, July 9

Dallas County Reports 268 Cases, Four Deaths

The four deaths give Dallas County a total of 4,145. The deaths reported Friday included people who ranged in age from their 60s to their 80s and all had underlying health conditions.

Tarrant County Reports 182 Cases, Seven Deaths

The deaths included a woman from Arlington in her 80s, a man from Keller in his 80s, a man from Arlington in his 60s, a man from Fort Worth in his 60s, a man from Crowley in his 50s, a woman from Fort Worth in her 50s, and a woman from Fort Worth in her 40s. All had underlying health conditions.

Tarrant County now has 3,593 confirmed deaths and 258,592 people have recovered.

Denton County Reports 72 Cases, Three Deaths

The deaths included people who ranged in age from their 70s to their 80s. There are now 624 total deaths in Denton County.

State Is Being Sued Over The End Of Extra Unemployment Benefits

Unemployed workers in Texas can no longer get an extra $300 a week from the federal government and other pandemic unemployment benefits.

Gov. Greg Abbott opted out of the federal program. He said the move would spur Texans to look for jobs. But it also removed state benefits for some people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

Mark Grady is a stage electrician for the Houston Grand Opera and has been out of a job since March 2020.

“The unemployment going away at this time for us, it’s brutal," Grady said. "I mean it’s right when we needed it.”

A group of Texans is suing to stop the state from leaving the federal program. They're arguing the governor "exceeded his power" in ending the benefits.

Trinity Metro Offers Free Rides To Tarrant County Job-Seekers

Trinity Metro is offering free public transit rides to job seekers in Tarrant County. Since the launch of the service last September, Trinity Metro has given close to 40,000 free rides to people who are job hunting.

Officials say more residents are seeking work after losing employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Riders can use the service to get to job fairs and interviews. They need to provide some form of communication from the hiring company — such as an email, text or flyer — to their bus operator or train conductor. They’ll get a free ride on the day of their interview or job fair.

Trinity Metro saw use of the service peak in March, with almost 5,000 job seekers getting a ride.

Thursday, July 8

Texas Health Officials Warn About Spread Of Delta Variant

Texas health officials warn the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly across the state. Chief State Epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Shuford estimates the strain now makes up 40 to 50% of all new cases in Texas and is driving a recent uptick in infections.

"Over the last week we've certainly seen increased numbers of cases of COVID-19 as well as hospitalizations,” she said. “We've seen maybe about a 10% increase in our number of hospitalizations this week over last week."

Shuford said while research shows the Delta variant is more transmissible, COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against it.

Dallas County Reaches Herd Immunity

The organization tracking COVID-19 for Dallas County says the county reached the 80% herd immunity threshhold July 4.

The Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation said that represents people who are either vaccinated or who have natural immunity after recovering from COVID.

However, Wednesday's statement from CEO Steve Miff said that progress for the county overall doesn't mean the battle is over. He said 45 ZIP codes are still below the 80% mark. There are still significant pockets in the community that remain vulnerable.

He said Dallas County needs to continue pushing for vaccination to prevent another surge of COVID or its variants.

Wednesday, July 7

Outbreak At Texas Camp Leaves At Least 150 Infected

Nearly 150 adult and child church campers in Texas caught COVID-19 over a four day period last month, including at least 6 who were fully vaccinated. Hundreds more may be affected.

More than 450 mostly sixth through 12th graders along with adults attended the camp in June organized by a church in Galveston County's League City. That county’s health director said 57 residents tested positive. More than 90 others self-reported their positive COVID-19 cases.

The highly contagious delta variant was found in three cases, and six were fully vaccinated, with at least 14 days since their second shot.

The church itself cancelled services this past weekend and for this coming Sunday. Church officials also say hundreds more were likely exposed to the disease during the camp weekend and after sick campers returned home.

Health officials say this outbreak shows Covid-19 is still here. They urge those old enough to get the vaccine.

Dallas College Food Pantries Reopen

Food pantries will reopen at each of Dallas College’s seven campuses on Monday, July 12. More than 300 volunteers will also be recognized for their help with distributing food.

“So many people rose up to the challenge, both prior to the campuses reopening and after, to come out and distribute food to those in need, even during difficult weather conditions such as rain, heat and cold,” said Cathy Edwards, associate dean of basic needs at Dallas College.

The college partnered with North Texas Food Bank before the pandemic to offer fresh produce to the community.

Here are the campuses where food pantries will be available:

Brookhaven

  • Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday and Thursday: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Cedar Valley

  • Tuesday and Thursday: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Eastfield

  • Tuesday and Thursday: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

El Centro (grab and go bags only during summer)

  • Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday and Thursday: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Mountain View

  • Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday and Thursday: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

North Lake

  • Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday and Thursday: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Richland

  • Tuesday and Thursday: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Dallas Reports Four-Day Total Of 319 New Cases

Another 319 cases brings the total to 263,629. Of the cases reported, 265 are confirmed. Due to the holiday weekend, today’s data is from July 3-6.

Two deaths were reported today:

  • A Seagoville man in his 40s.
  • A Dallas man in his 50s.

191 New Cases In Tarrant County

An additional 191 cases raises the total to 263,948. There have been 3,580 deaths and 258,422 people who have recovered from the virus in the area.

The community spread level is “moderate.”

Denton County Announces 85 More Cases

There are 85 more cases, all of which are active. This brings the countywide total to 77,270. There have been 35 newly recovered cases, increasing the countywide recovery total to 75,155.

At Least 6 Texas Prisons Have Vaccinated 70% Of Inmates & Staff

Of the 99 state prisons in Texas, at least six can loosen pandemic restrictions because 70% of inmates and staff are vaccinated against COVID-19.

"Like day rooms and outdoor recreation areas and some of those sorts of things. It's essentially a return to a new level of normalcy," Jeremy Desel, with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), said.

According to him, the changes are driving a spike in demand for the shots at other units.

"There's been a slight bit of delay as we have to request those vaccines in advance and those numbers have ebbed quite a bit so the number of on hand available vaccines were less but we have increased those significantly and we're able to vaccinate folks as quickly as they request," Desel said.

He added the agency has administered nearly 123,000 shots.

TDCJ reports more than 200 inmates have died from COVID-19.

Tuesday, July 6

Amarillo Was Vaccinating People At Double The State’s Pace. Then The Effort Hit A Wall.

Amarillo retiree Vicky Richmond readily takes her preventive vaccines for flu and shingles and other illnesses people in their 60s worry about.

But she’s digging in her heels on the COVID-19 shot.

Her main reason is that she tested positive for the virus antibodies in recent weeks and believes that she has natural immunity. But she is also wary of a vaccine she believes was rushed into production — and mistrustful of the overwhelming pressure she’s feeling from the government to get it.

For those reasons and others, Richmond is steadfast in her choice not to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“I’m a rebel,” Richmond, 69, said with a chuckle.

She’s also a target of efforts by the health community in the Amarillo area to boost a flagging vaccination program that started off so strong that it outpaced the rest of the state in the first weeks of the vaccine rollout and earned accolades for its efficiency, access and supply.

These days, this Panhandle city of nearly 200,000 and its surrounding counties rank near the bottom of the state’s population centers in the percentage of residents who are fully vaccinated, and well below the overall state rate.

Read the full story by The Texas Tribune.

Dallas County Is Monitoring Hospitalizations And Keeping An Eye On Variants

Dallas County health officials say they're closely monitoring COVID-19 hospitalizations as more transmissible variants spread in the community.

“The numbers are still relatively low, but it is concerning some of these latest trends and numbers,” Dr. Philip Huang, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, told county commissioners Tuesday. “We're certainly watching them very closely in light of the presence of the variants and the fact that we still have a significant number of persons that are not fully vaccinated.”

Huang said Dallas County has identified nine cases of COVID-19 tied to the highly transmissible Delta variant.

He says around 58 percent Dallas County residents 12 and older have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Dallas County reported 163 new cases and two more deaths on Tuesday. There have been a total of 4,137 deaths in the county.

Hospitalizations Are On The Rise In Tarrant County

Health officials reported Tuesday that 174 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Tarrant County.

The majority of those hospitalized are unvaccinated, Public Health Director Vinny Taneja said.

“So far it looks like we're holding a flat curve, but I can tell you that things are changing on a daily basis,” Taneja told county commissioners. “The virus spread is growing faster.”

Taneja encouraged people who are not yet vaccinated to get a shot, especially as more contagious variants spread in Tarrant County. He said the highly contagious Delta variant is already spreading in the community.

Taneja said vaccines are key to stopping more contagious variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 from spreading.

"People that are not vaccinated give the virus and opportunity to replicate, he said. “And every time the virus replicates, there's a chance that there will be mutation … and that's how variants come out.”

Tarrant County reported 67 new cases and three deaths on Tuesday. There are a total of 3,580 deaths in the county.

Monday, July 5

Texas Transit Agencies To Get Financial Boost

The Texas Transportation Commission approved $89 million in funding, some of which comes from federal pandemic relief.

It's the largest one-time allocation for Texas transit agencies to date, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

Adam Hammons, with TX-Dot, said the money could go towards system improvements and operating costs.

"Facilities, vehicles, equipment, safety features like communications equipment you know stuff like that. Just kind of things to help them do what they need to do," Hammons said. "Then service, basically, the daily expenses of providing that transit service: salaries, fuel, maintenance repairs."

Agencies in Arlington, North Richland Hills, McKinney, Mesquite and Wichita Falls are set to receive a portion of the funds.

Dallas Schools Exploring Options To Expand Internet Access

Thousands of students in Dallas still don't have reliable internet access, even after more than a year of relying on online connections to keep learning.

Now, the Dallas School District is exploring two potential options to help expand internet access to students.

The Dallas Morning News reports DISD could expand cell phone towers to broaden the reach of existing Wi-Fi networks, and use federal money to buy internet subscriptions for families in need.

The city of Dallas has $40 million tentatively set aside to help with the effort.

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

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