COVID-19 Live Updates: Language Barrier Means Virus Updates Aren't Accessible To Most Texans | KERA News

COVID-19 Live Updates: Language Barrier Means Virus Updates Aren't Accessible To Most Texans

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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:

Tuesday, June 2

89 New Cases In Tarrant County 

Tarrant County Public Health reported 89 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the total case count in the county to 5,623. 

There have been 167 deaths related to COVID-19 in the county. 

Denton County Reports 18 New Cases

Denton County is reporting 18 new cases of COVID-19. This increases the cumulative, countywide total to 1,416 confirmed cases,including 32 deaths. 

County health officials report 684 people have recovered from the disease.

Denton County Public Health is offering free drive-through COVID-19 testing Friday at Sanger Sports Park at 2101 I-35 Frontage Road from 8 a.m. to noon. Any community member can get tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19, or have been symptomatic within the past seven days. All essential employees are also eligible for free testing. Community members must call to pre-register for testing at 940-349-2585.

More Than A Third Of Texans Speak A Language Other Than English. That Means Key Coronavirus Updates Aren't Accessible To Them. 

Days after Hidalgo County’s stay-at-home orders went into effect in late March, some of the area’s mostly Latino residents learned about the new rules not from the government officials charged with their protection, but from police officers at checkpoints writing them citations for unknowingly violating the rules. While action around the COVID-19 pandemic was rapidly changing, news wasn’t reaching people in their native languages in real time.

Hidalgo County, where some of the checkpoints were set up, is 92% Latino. Carlos Sanchez, a county spokesperson, said police officers didn’t immediately issue tickets. The first week of the executive order, officers were in “education mode,” explaining to some residents who were hearing for the first time how the county and state were adapting to the pandemic.

More than a third of Texans speak a language other than English at home, according to census data. Spanish is largely the most spoken language, with Vietnamese, Chinese languages and Tagalog — spoken in the Philippines — holding the other top spots. But news broadcasts and articles, changing government mandates and the latest health safety guidance are mostly being communicated in English.

Local and state leaders need to make greater strides to get critical, life-saving information out to the masses in as many languages as possible, nonprofit leaders and state residents said.

Read the full Texas Tribune Story. 

Southwest Airlines Offers Employees Buyout Package

Southwest Airlines is offering employees what it calls the -quote- “most generous buyout package in history” to avoid layoffs or furloughs.

The Dallas Morning News reports employees with more than ten years at the Dallas-based carrier cantake early retirement. If they do, the company will give them a year’s pay plus four years of flight privileges.

Early retirees would also get a year of company-paid health insurance.

The announcement comes as many airlines are scrambling to cut costs before September 30th. That's when obligations under payroll protection grants from the federal stimulus package end.

Southwest employees have until July 15th to apply for the programs.

Monday, June 1

21 New Cases In Tarrant County 

Tarrant County Public Health announced 21 additional cases of COVID-19 in the county, raising the case count to 5,534. 

There have been 165 deaths related to COVID-19 in the county and 2,324 people have recovered from the virus.

Denton County Reports 1 Additional Death, 26 New Cases

Denton County Public Health announced one additional patient who died in the county due to COVID-19, bringing the total deaths to 32. 

The death reported today was of a previously reported hospitalized female in her 50s. She was a resident of Denton. 

The county also reported 26 new cases of COVID-19, raising the total case count in the county to 1,398. 

228 Additional Cases In Dallas County 

Dallas County Health and Human Services reported 228 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total case count in the county to 10,462. 

There have been a total of 229 deaths related to COVID-19 in the county. 

60-Year-Old Woman With COVID-19 Dies In Collin County

A 60-year-old woman from Wylie with COVID-19 and underlying health conditions died Sunday morning at a Plano hospital, according to a report received by Collin County Health Care Services. 

This is the 35th death of a Collin County resident known to have COVID-19. 

On Monday morning, Collin County Health Care Services reported 1,312 cases of COVID-19. Currently, 922 of those individuals have recovered and 16 are currently hospitalized.

Texas Reports Steepest Year-To-Year Drop In State Sales Tax Revenue In A Decade

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced the state sales tax revenue totaled $2.61 billion in May - a 13.2% drop from last May. The downturn is the steepest year-over-year decline since January 2010.

The majority of May sales tax revenue is based on sales made in April and remitted to the agency in May. Throughout April, widespread social distancing requirements were in place around the state.

“Significant declines in sales tax receipts were evident in all major economic sectors, with the exception of telecommunications services,” Hegar said. “The steepest decline was in collections from oil and gas mining, as energy companies cut well drilling and completion spending following the crash in oil prices.” 

Hegar said the stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns due to COVID-19 led to “deep drops” from restaurants, amusement and recreation services and physical retail stores. However, he said the declines were partly offset by increases from big box retailers, grocery stores, online retailers and restaurants that turned to takeout and delivery service. 

Online Housing Applications Available For Collin County Residents 

Collin County residents impacted by COVID-19 can now apply online for housing and living assistance grants. The assistance is part of the Collin CARES recovery plan that provides up to $2,500 a month in financial support for each qualifying household. 

The CARES plan provides direct financial assistance for housing, utilities and groceries, for up to four months. Funding comes from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which sent more than $171 million in federal aid to Collin County in relief for family and government COVID-19 related costs. 

Learn more about the county’s Collin CARES program at www.collincountytx.gov

As Texas Businesses Reopen, A Short-Lived Coronavirus Safety Net Is Dismantled

This spring, as a global pandemic promised historic suffering and economic ruin, Texas officials reached for unfamiliar tools. They wove together some protections for the vulnerable, expanding unemployment benefits and child care subsidies, limiting evictions, utility shutoffs and debt collections.

As summer approaches with no cure for the virus and Texas businesses reopen to diminished profits, many of the threads in that makeshift safety net are being snipped.

The dead top 1,600; the jobless exceed 2 million. The state craves a return to normal.

But the ongoing human and economic trauma has touched off a debate between those who believe the pandemic is disrupting a sustainable economic order and those who think it clarifies the fault lines in the system.

Read the full Texas Tribune story here. 

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

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