COVID-19 Live Updates: Dallas County Judge Launches New “Stay Safe Business” Program | KERA News

COVID-19 Live Updates: Dallas County Judge Launches New “Stay Safe Business” Program

19 hours ago

Get live updates throughout the day on how COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, is affecting North Texas. 

» COVID-19 By The Numbers:

Friday, May 15

Dallas County Judge Launches New “Stay Safe Business” Program

A recent letter from state Attorney General Ken Paxton said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins can't require businesses to follow recommendations for reopening set out by the governor.

In response, Jenkins yesterday announced a new program called “Stay Safe Business.”

The Dallas Morning News reports businesses can get a “Stay Safe Business” designation from the county by pledging to follow the guidelines set out for their industry as long as their business falls in line with the county’s color-coded coronavirus recommendations chart.

The county's currently in the “red” risk zone, which recommends the strictest precautions and indicates a high risk of community transmission of COVID-19.

To move into the next-lowest risk level, orange, the county would need to see 14 days of decline in certain indicators, including ICU admissions, occupied hospital beds, ER visits and hospitalizations related to COVID-19.

UT Arlington Will Give $10.6 Million To Students Through Grants Funded By CARES Act

UT Arlington is providing $10.6M to eligible students as a financial aid grant after receiving funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Full-time students will receive $1,000, and part-time students will receive $500. Funds will be disbursed directly to students, even if they have outstanding charges with the university.

The university received $21,177,188 from the CARES Act in April, with at least half being designated to be used for student financial aid grants.

Under federal guidelines, only students who are eligible for federal aid and have a financial need can be considered. International or undocumented students and students not enrolled cannot apply. Students in degree programs that were exclusively online before March 13 are also ineligible.

Eviction And Debt Collection Proceedings To Resume Next Week

The Texas Supreme Court has ordered evictions and debt collection proceedings to resume next week, after both were put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Texas Tribune reports that eviction hearings can be held as soon as Tuesday. Landlords can order evictions beginning May 26.

However, some tenants are protected through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act through August 23. That includes renters whose homes have federally backed mortgages. Others may be protected by local orders.

Debt collectors can also garnish accounts again beginning later this month. 

Thursday, May 14

Dallas County Reports 235 New Cases, 6 Deaths

Dallas County Health and Human Services is reporting 235 additional cases of COVID-19 and six deaths. These numbers bring the total number of cases countywide to 6,837 and the total number of deaths to 159.

The deceased include:

  • A Dallas man in his 50s who had been critically ill in a hospital
  • A Dallas woman in her 60s who had been critically ill in a hospital
  • A Dallas man in his 60s who was hospitalized
  • A Dallas man in his 60s who had been critically ill in a hospital
  • A Dallas man in his 90s who had been critically ill in a hospital
  • A man in his 90s who was a resident of a Dallas long-term care facility

Tarrant County Reports 135 New Cases, 3 Deaths

Tarrant County Public Health is reporting 135 new cases of COVID-19 and three deaths, bringing the countywide total number of cases to 4,211. The deceased include a man in his 80s and a man in his 70s from Fort Worth and a woman in her 80s from Keller. All had underlying health conditions.

Denton County Reports 27 New Cases, 3 Deaths

Denton County Public Health is reporting 27 new cases of COVID-19 and three deaths. The deaths include:

  • A hospitalized man in his 70s who was a resident Denton
  • A hospitalized man in his 60s who was a resident of The Colony
  • A hospitalized woman in her 70s who was a resident of southwest unincorporated Denton County

These numbers bring the countywide total number of cases to 1,016.

Collin County Reports 15 New Cases

Collin County Public Health is reporting 15 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the countywide total to 993.

Governor To Announce More Reopening Plans

Gov. Greg Abbott is set to to announce another set of reopening plans on Monday.

“We’re opening Texas as fast as possible while also containing the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said in a Wednesday night interview with KETK.

Health experts say that even small steps toward reopening businesses will increase the number of people who become sick from the virus. The governor has allowed the reopening of a number of businesses across industries over the last two weeks, including restaurants, retailers and hair salons. Originally Abbott said bars would get the go-ahead to reopen by mid-May. He has stopped short of putting a date on their reopening, saying he needs more information from experts to figure out how to reopen them safely.

“Part of what we seek to do this coming Monday is seek to get the advice of our four-doctor medical team about safe ways that current businesses may be allowed to open up even further and safe ways that certain businesses that are not open may be allowed to open,” Abbott said in an interview Wednesday evening with WOAI. “So we are still providing information to our medial team, getting advice back from our medical team, and we will be making these decisions here in the coming days."

Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen also went on the air to defend the governor’s decision to reopen more businesses.

“If Texans follow the health guidelines of washing their hands, social distancing, wearing a face-covering when they go out in public, then we can be successful in reopening our economy, getting Texans back to work,” Bonnen said on KETK. — Stacy Fernández and Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune

Collin County Launches COVID-19 Testing For Uninsured

The Collin County Commissioners Court approved funds to cover costs for testing uninsured residents of the county through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

The service includes testing for COVID-19 and a medical evaluation, either in an office visit or drive-through facility. A voucher system will ensure that the county is billed directly by healthcare providers. Vouchers do not cover prescriptions, and only uninsured residents of Collin County are eligible.

So far, two providers have agreed to accept the vouchers — PrimaCare Urgent Care and CommunityMed Urgent Care.

Online forms and more information are posted on the Collin CARES page. For those who can’t access or print the online forms, please check for availability with the testing provider.

Texas Meatpacking Plant Changes Course, Allowing State To Test Workers 

A meatpacking plant near Amarillo has accepted the state’s offer to test employees for the coronavirus as officials try to contain a cluster of infections connected to the facility.

State emergency management officials yesterday initially said JBS USA didn't agree to allow the state test workers.

However, hours later, the company said it would accept, but still needed to work out the details of how to do it.

A spokeswoman for JBS said testing will begin late next week. The facility employs about 3,000 workers.

Federal Government Extends Support Of Two Dallas Test Sites

The federal government has extended its support of two COVID-19 testing sites in Dallas.

U.S. officials had planned to stop that support at Ellis Davis Field House and American Airlines Center at the end of the month.

County Judge Clay Jenkins this week sought an extension. He said each site could handle as many as 500 tests a day. 

The Deputy Surgeon General has since told the state Emergency Management division that federally supported testing would be extended through June 30 at the two Dallas sites - and five others in El Paso and Harris County.

Wednesday, May 13

Denton County Confirms 21 New Cases

Denton County's 21 cases of COVID-19 today raises the cumulative total to 989.

Denton County Public Health also announced that it's providing a free drive-through testing center at Braswell High School in Aubrey on Friday, May 15, from 8 a.m. to noon. Call to pre-register for testing at 940-349-2585.

Eligibility includes:

  • All essential workers
  • Community members who currently have COVID-19 symptoms 
  • Members of the community who have been symptomatic within the past seven days

Denton County's active case count stands at 430. There have been 25 confirmed deaths from COVID-19.

HHS Extends Dallas' 2 Community-Based Testing Sites

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have extended the two community-based COVID-19 testing sites in Dallas through June. 30. Those testing sites are at the Ellis Field House, 9191 S. Polk St., and at American Airlines Center, 2500 Victory Ave.

Tarrant County Reports 266 More Cases

Tarrant County Public Health is reporting 266 new cases of COVID-19, including 153 from a federal prison outbreak.

This brings the countywide total number of cases to 4,076.

Dallas County Reports 243 More Cases, 5 Deaths

Dallas County Health and Human Services is reporting 243 more cases of COVID-19 and 5 deaths.

The deceased include:

  • A Dallas woman in her 60s who had been critically ill in a hospital
  • A Dallas man in his 60s who had been critically ill in a hospital
  • A woman in her 60s who was a resident of a Mesquite long-term care facility
  • A Mesquite woman in her 70s who has been critically ill in a hospital
  • A Dallas man in his 70s who had been critically ill in a hospital

These new numbers bring the countywide total number of cases to 6,602, including 153 deaths.

Dallas Approves Contract For In-Home Testing

The Dallas City Council on Wednesday passed an emergency contract that will provide in-home COVID-19 testing to Dallas residents.

Assistant City Manager Jon Fortune says the city will offer up to 60 tests per day in targeted ZIP codes.

"We'll go to their house, so they don't have to have transportation to get to a testing site in the traditional manner," he said. "This particular project will allow the vendor through an appointment process to actually go to a resident's house."

Mayor Eric Johnson says not enough COVID-19 testing is happening in Dallas.

"I do feel that it is impossible for us to seriously talk about opening back up the Dallas economy and getting Dallas back on its feet economically if we don't deal with this issue," he said.

City officials say they want 4,000 COVID-19 tests administered each day in Dallas.

Collin County Reports 15 New Cases

Collin County Public Health reports 15 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the countywide total to 978. One death, a 71-year-old Plano man, is reported. He had a serious underlying health condition and died in a Plano hospital.

Frisco ISD Board Votes To Partially Open June 8

Frisco ISD Board of Trustees voted Monday to begin normal summer operations on June 8, the Dallas Morning News reports.

The vote amended the district's emergency closure resolution adopted in March. The district will encourage social-distancing protocols, and staff will work remotely when possible and take extra precautions inside facilities.

Gov. Abbott Waives Renewal Late Fee For Some Occupational Licenses

Gov. Greg Abbott has waived license renewal late fees accrued between March 13 and June 15 for occupational licenses for a variety of jobs. Those include barbers, cosmetologists, electricians, speech-language patholigists and dyslexia therapists.

Texas AG Ken Paxton Warns Cities To Pull Back Coronavirus Restrictions

The Texas Attorney General has sent letters to local governments, telling them to scale back their local disaster orders to be in line with the state.

The Dallas Morning News reports Ken Paxton's letter to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins warned he can't enforce safety guidelines laid out by the state for business reopenings, like the use of masks in public and limiting how many people can attend religious services. Paxton said those are recommendations, not mandates.

The letter also cited conflicts between what the state and county define as essential businesses.

Paxton told Jenkins Dallas County should roll back its stay-at-home order, which effectively ended this month once the state's economy began reopening. 

Texas Prisons Will Receive Thousands Of COVID-19 Tests

Tens of thousands of COVID-19 tests are headed for Texas prisons, where inmates have tested positive at a dramatically higher rate than the rest of the state.

Jeremy Desel with the state’s Criminal Justice Department yesterday said the tests are designed to be self-administered, but a dozen “strike teams” are receiving training this week to help with the testing.

The agency said more than 1,700 prison inmates have tested positive for coronavirus.

Yesterday's announcement of widespread testing in Texas was the second in as many days. The Governor Monday ordered coronavius testing for every nursing home resident and staff member in the state.

Paul Quinn College Helps Organize Online Graduation For HBCUs

A nationwide graduation celebration for historically black colleges and universities will be livestreamed this weekend, and Paul Quinn College President Michael Sorrell will be one of the speakers.

Former President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, Kevin Hart and Wyclef Jean will also make appearances during the 2-hour event, which takes place on Twitter and YouTube at 1 p.m. Saturday.

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

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