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COVID-19 In DFW Nov. 1-Nov. 7: Texas gets more than 1 million doses of pediatric vaccines

A young girl gets a COVID-19 vaccine in her right arm. She's wearing a white shirt and her back is turned. The nurse is in blue scrubs, a black watch visible on her wrist, administering the vaccine.
Keren Carrión
/
KERA
Dallas County received 3,000 initial doses of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine for children between 5 and 11. The county health department hosted an event for the first pediatric vaccinations on November 3, 2021.

American Airlines also extends its deadline for workers to get vaccinated, and jobless claims hit a new pandemic low in Texas.

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

Saturday, Nov. 6

Dallas County offering pediatric vaccine doses at Dallas College Eastfield Campus

Dallas County Health and Human Services is offering adult and pediatric doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Dallas College Eastfield Campus. The clinic is open today until 5:30 p.m. Appointments are recommended.

Friday, Nov. 5

The Texas Department of State Health Services is set to receive 1.3 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine for children between 5 and 11

As cases and hospitalizations have been trending downward in Texas, Chief State Epidemiologist Jennifer Shuford is waiting to see what the next few months will bring.

“As we go into this holiday season, and we have Thanksgiving and Christmas, and New Year’s, where people traditionally will gather together in big groups," Shuford said. "We could see a lot more circulation of COVID-19 as well as flu and other respiratory viruses.”

A bad flu season could strain hospital capacity across the state as people are still contracting COVID-19, said Shuford.

She encourages everyone, including families with kids between 5 and 11 years old, to consider getting vaccinated.

Shuford and others at the Texas Department of State Health Services are also monitoring an offshoot of the Delta variant that’s increasing in the United Kingdom.

The department is preparing for whatever the future might bring, including other variants.

COVID travel restrictions on the U.S. borders are set to end Monday

The new rules allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to enter the U.S. regardless of the reason for travel.

By mid-January, all travelers, even essential workers like truck drivers, will have to be fully vaccinated to cross the borders.

Vehicle, rail, and ferry travel between the U-S, Canada, and Mexico has been largely restricted to essential travel, like trade, for about 19-months.

American Airlines pushes back deadline for employees to get vaccines

After the White House originally gave airlines and other federal contractors until December 8th to get all their employees vaccinated.

Fort Worth-based American set a Nov. 24 deadline for employees to turn in vaccination documentation or apply for a religious or medical exemption.

But the White House yesterday updated the deadline for both federal contractors and businesses with more than 100 employees.

American Airlines workers now have until Jan. 4 to turn in proof of vaccination or get an exemption.

Read more about what that means for the rest of the businesses in the state from The Texas Tribune.

Thursday, Nov. 4

60% of Fort Worth ISD employees apply for COVID vaccine stipend

More than 62% of Fort Worth ISD employees have applied for the District’s Vaccine Incentive program since the online portal opened in late September.

The district is offering a one-time $500 stipend this December to eligible full-time, part-time and substitute employees who are fully vaccinated by Nov. 15. To date, more than 7,500 employees have applied.

Fort Worth ISD is encouraging employees to apply ahead of the deadline to ensure they receive the stipend in December.

Texas' new jobless claims reach pandemic low

First-time jobless claims in Texas, and the U.S. as a whole, continue to fall to new lows during the pandemic.

The U.S. Labor Department reports today that 269,000 people nationwide applied for unemployment benefits last week. That is the lowest level of initial claims in the country since March of 2020 when the coronavirus first prompted widespread shutdowns.

That trend was reflected in Texas, which also reported its lowest level of new claims since the onset of the pandemic. Just over 15,000 people filed for jobless benefits during the week ending Oct. 30. That marks a 6% drop from the previous week.

Wednesday, Nov. 3

American Airlines eases restrictions for Dallas Mavericks games

The Dallas Mavericks and the American Airlines Center are easing pandemic safety protocols as COVID-19 cases decline.

Starting Nov. 15th, fans seated more than 15 feet away from the court will no longer need to take a pre-screening survey to enter games. They also won't have to submit a negative COVID test or proof of vaccination.

Those sitting within 15 feet of the court will still need a negative COVID test or proof of vaccination.

Masks will still be required, and staff are working to designate specific sections for immunocompromised fans.

Dr. Peter Hotez says Pfizer's pediatric COVID-19 vaccines are 'highly effective'

Texas health officials say the state is receiving 1.3 million doses of Pfizer's pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for kids between the ages of 5 and 11.

More than 400,000 shots have already arrived in Texas and another 162,000 are expected Wednesday. Vaccinations are beginning a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the shot for younger kids.

Dr. Peter Hotez, with Texas Children's Hospital, discussed the vaccine on CNN Tuesday.

"It's been highly effective — 90% protective in clinical trials in the younger kids, 5 to 11," he said.

About 2.9 million Texas children are now eligible for the shot.

Tuesday, Nov. 2

CDC gives final clearance to COVID-19 shots for kids 5 to 11

U.S. health officials on Tuesday gave the final signoff to Pfizer’s kid-size COVID-19 shot.

The announcement by CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky came only hours after an advisory panel unanimously decided Pfizer’s shots should be opened to the 28 million youngsters in that age group.

The decision marks the first opportunity for Americans under 12 to get the powerful protection of any COVID-19 vaccine.

Read the full story by theAssociated Press.

Two pandemic-related constitutional amendments on the ballot today

Polls are open in Texas for Election Day, which features eight amendments to the state Constitution. Two ballot items stem from the coronavirus pandemic.

Proposition 6 would give residents in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, the right to in-person visits from a designated essential caregiver.

"Someone who is designated as important to the resident, can't be shut out of a facility and helps provide them with care and support," State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Patty Ducayet said.

Meanwhile, Proposition 3 would ban government restrictions on religious services. Polls close at 7, but anyone in line by then is allowed to vote.

Texas extends emergency SNAP benefits for November

As part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is providing more than $310 million in emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits for the month of November 2021.

The allotments are expected to help more than 1.5 million Texas households.

"Our continued investment in emergency SNAP benefits has ensured Texas families can put food on the table throughout the COVID-19 pandemic," said Gov. Greg Abbott. "Thank you to HHSC and USDA for ensuring these resources reach Texans across the state."

HHSC received federal approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to extend the maximum, allowable amount of SNAP benefits to recipients based on family size, and all SNAP households will receive a minimum of $95 in emergency allotments. This additional emergency allotment should appear in recipients’ accounts by Nov. 30.

The emergency November allotments are in addition to the more than $4.8 billion in benefits previously provided to Texans since April 2020.

Cases on the decline in Tarrant County

Tarrant County health officials say COVID-19 cases are still declining.

Public health director Vinny Taneja updated county commissioners on Tuesday.

"Our hospitalizations are at 319 total people confirmed with COVID in the hospital," Taneja said. "That's only 7.23% of the capacity, quite a striking difference from where we were just a few weeks ago."

But with the holidays coming up, Taneja warns residents they still need to be vigilant.

"So that's all very positive news developing again, just a little cautionary tale," he said. "We just had Halloween and we're heading into the holidays. Let's not repeat last year."

Tarrant County health officials have received the pediatric Pfizer vaccine for 5- to 11 year-olds.

Once the CDC approves of the vaccine, Taneja recommends parents immediately contact their local care provider or pharmacy to make an appointment.

First vaccines for children arrive at Cook Children’s in Fort Worth

The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 has arrived at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. Cook Children’s said that it got enough doses to vaccinate more than 3,000 children.

“Cook Children's will soon announce the details of mass vaccination clinics which will be held for Cook Children's patients with an existing MyCookChildren’s account,” the system said in a news release.

Families of Cook Children's patients will be contacted directly via text or email and will not need to call their pediatricians to make appointments.

Monday, Nov. 1

State files suit against the federal government over vaccine mandate

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors.

The lawsuit filed Friday argues the requirement illegally forces workers to choose between getting the shot or risk losing their jobs. The suite says the mandate is "encroachment upon individual liberty by forcing employers to require vaccine mandates as a condition of doing business with the federal government."

The mandate is set to take effect Dec. 8, but the White House has issued guidance giving contractors flexibility to decide how to enforce it — including possible accommodations for those who refuse the shot.

More than a dozen other Republican-led states are also challenging the order.

Texans can sign up for health insurance on the federal marketplace starting this week

Texans can begin buying health insurance through the online marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act today

More than 1.1 million people in Texas signed up for plans last year.

Elena Marks, with the Episcopal Health Foundation, expects even more to sign up for 2022.

"There’s going to be a longer period of time for enrollment, and the federal government is making investments in a number of organizations to help people enroll," Marks said. "So there’s going to be much more outreach than there had been in the past.”

Marks says the pandemic is also driving more people to sign up.

Dec. 15 is the deadline for coverage to start on Jan. 1 — but open enrollment lasts through mid-January.

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

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