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COVID-19 In DFW Nov. 15-Nov. 21: Dallas and Tarrant counties reach 10,000 deaths combined

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

Saturday, Nov. 20

CDC encourages unvaccinated Americans to get shots as it expands booster eligibility

Federal officials are encouraging an estimated 47 million unvaccinated American adults to get shots as soon as possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also called on eligible adults, especially those in high-risk groups, to get booster shots ahead of the holiday season.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky issued a statement Friday after endorsing a recommendation to expand booster shot eligibility to all adults.

"Booster shots have demonstrated the ability to safely increase people’s protection against infection and severe outcomes and are an important public health tool to strengthen our defenses against the virus as we enter the winter holidays," Walensky said. "Based on the compelling evidence, all adults over 18 should now have equitable access to a COVID-19 booster dose.”

Friday, Nov. 19

Dallas and Tarrant counties reach a combined 10,000 COVID-19 deaths

Both counties have crossed a grim threshold in the pandemic.

The two counties yesterday reached a combined 10,000 COVID-19 fatalities since reporting their first deaths in March of last year.

Collin and Denton counties have both logged more than a thousand deaths.

As of this week, nearly 72,000 people in Texas had died from COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic.

Thursday, Nov. 18

Pfizer, US ink $5.29B deal for possible COVID-19 treatment

The U.S. government will pay drugmaker Pfizer $5.29 billion for 10 million treatment courses of its potential COVID-19 treatment if regulators authorize it, the nation’s largest purchase agreement yet for a coronavirus therapy.

Pfizer asked the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday to authorize emergency use of the experimental pill, which has been shown to significantly cut the rate of hospitalizations and deaths among people with coronavirus infections.

The FDA is already reviewing a competing pill from Merck and will hold a public meeting on it later this month.

The price for Pfizer’s potential treatment amounts to about $529 per course. The U.S. has already agreed to pay roughly $700 per course of Merck’s drug for about 3.1 million treatments.

Read the full story by the Associated Press.

Nearly 72,000 Texans have died from COVID-19 as deadly third wave of coronavirus in the state slows

After a third surge in August and September caused by the delta variant, COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decline in Texas.

Unvaccinated residents made up the vast majority of COVID-19 cases and deaths this year, according to the state.

More than 71,000 Texans have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began. While Texas schools started the school year reporting record-high coronavirus cases, weekly totals have now declined.

Read the full story by The Texas Tribune.

Cases rising in Texas panhandle

Health officials in the Texas Panhandle warn coronavirus numbers in the area are heading in the wrong direction ahead of Thanksgiving.

"I think that our optimism about the numbers that were going down, it turns out is kind of unfounded," Dr. Todd Bell, Amarillo's Public Health Authority, said. Hopefully this recent trend is a bump in the road and is not going to lead to a longer uptrend in transmission rates."

Meanwhile, the Texas Department of State Health Services says the decline in COVID-19 cases has stalled — especially in rural areas.

The agency encourages residents to get vaccinated. Anyone age 5 and up is eligible for the shots.

Texas jobless claims fall to lowest pandemic level

The U.S. Labor Department reports today weekly jobless claims in Texas have fallen to their lowest level since the onset of the pandemic.

Last week, 14,790 Texans filed first-time unemployment claims which is down about 8% from the week before.

The U.S. as a whole, also saw the lowest level of initial claims since March of 2020. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas predicts Texas will recover jobs lost during the pandemic sometime in the first half of next year.

The Texas Workforce Commission is set to release the state's unemployment rate for October tomorrow.

Wednesday, Nov. 17

Texas weathered this year's late-summer surge in COVID-19 cases far better than in previous waves

A new report says businesses in Texas weathered this year's late-summer surge in COVID-19 cases far better than in previous waves.

Economist Christopher Slijk with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said the manufacturing and service sectors did not see steep declines in demand compared to last winter, despite the more contagious Delta variant.

"Thankfully, this time even with infections and hospitalizations getting quite high we really didn't see that same effect on economic activity," Slijk said.

Businesses were more prepared to operate because of the availability of vaccines and more information about how the virus spreads.

Tuesday, Nov. 16

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton files lawsuit against vaccine mandate for healthcare workers

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton continues to try to block the Biden administration's efforts to require COVID-19 vaccines for certain workers.

The Republican attorney general filed a lawsuit yesterday challenging the requirement that health care workers at facilities that receive federal funding from Medicare or Medicaid get vaccinated by Jan. 4.

Paxton, who is up for reelection, has also sued over vaccine mandates for federal contractors and large companies.

Cases on the decline in Tarrant County

COVID-19 cases in Tarrant County continue to decline ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

"I do have good news to share, today is one of those days where we have zero deaths to report," public health director Vinny Taneja said. So finally, we're getting there."

As of Tuesday, there are 222 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Tarrant County.

Taneja said health officials are optimistic after the success of a mass vaccination event over the weekend.

Shots are available until 6 p.m. Tuesday at a pop-up clinic at the Hurst Fire Station on Precinct Line Road.

COVID and flu vaccines being offered at Fair Park, Ellis Davis Field House to stop offering vaccines

Fair Park will once again host a COVID-19 vaccine clinic as Dallas County still grapples with large numbers of unvaccinated people. The site will be open this Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Dallas County health director Philip Huang said despite a slight uptick in daily vaccinations after the federal approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old, there are still 1.3 million unvaccinated people in Dallas County.

“So there’s still a large susceptible population in our county that we need to continue to protect,” he said at a Tuesday meeting of the Dallas County Commissioners Court.

Huang told KERA the Fair Park site will be weekly on Sundays, depending on demand. A county press release said it would be drive-thru, at Fair Park’s lot 13, and pre-registration is encouraged but no appointment is required. Registration is at the DCHHS website.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 vaccine and testing at Ellis Davis Field House will stop on Nov. 24. A spokesperson for Parkland Health & Hospital System, which runs the site, said “volumes no longer warrant operating” at the location.

“We will continue to do pop up vaccine events in hot spots,” she said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioner John Wiley Price asked Huang to devise a plan to have a pop-up vaccine site at Ellis Davis, which is on the southern border of the City of Dallas.

“People have become accustomed to going to that venue,” Price said. “And so, I’d like to see what … some kind of site will cost operationally at that location.”

Immigration courts face huge backlog of cases

One-and-a-half-million cases are backlogged in immigration courts. The backlog continues to grow each month.

Data collected by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse show immigration judges completed 2,100 cases in October, less than half of the total new cases coming to the courts.

Immigration courts have received nearly 50,000 new cases since October.

Monday, Nov. 15

Dallas County Reports the First Flu-Related Death

Dallas County health officials are urging residents to take flu seriously, especially with COVID-19 cases on the rise in the U.S. A 46-year-old resident is the first in the county to die from flu-related symptoms this season.

“The best way to protect yourself and others is to get your seasonal flu shot,” said Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang. “We also want everyone to know the flu shot can be given at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine if you haven’t yet received the COVID-19 vaccine or if you need to get your booster.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccine for all persons aged six months and older, with rare exceptions.

Children 5 years old or younger, adults sixty-five years and older, and pregnant women are at a higher risk of flu complications.

Fort Worth ISD staff who want the district's $500 vaccine bonus must submit proof by today

Today is the deadline for Fort Worth ISD employees to take advantage of the district's coronavirus vaccine incentive program. Eligible full-time, part-time and substitute employees who show proof of vaccination will receive a $500 stipend this December.

The district is offering employees help with the process of submitting the documentation in person from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. today, at the FWISD Central Administration Building University Grill and by phone at 817-814-1850.

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

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