Dallas County Reaches 500 Deaths, Dallas County Schools Cannot Resume In-Person Classes Until At Least After Labor Day And Much More.
A lot has unfolded on the Coronavirus front in just a few short days since our last check in.
Here’s a rundown of some of the biggest developments this week:
- On Thursday, Dallas County reported an additional 1,027 cases along with 16 deaths. This brings the County total to 37,996 cases and 501 deaths. Dallas is still very much on a dangerous trajectory as County Judge Clay Jenkins expects this week to again be one of the deadliest so far. Thursday marked the 14th straight day of 1,000 or more new cases in a day for the county.
NEW: Dallas County Reports 1,027 Additional Positive 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases and 16 Deaths pic.twitter.com/Q1qkObjuyt
— Clay Jenkins (@JudgeClayJ) July 16, 2020
- Texas school districts will not lose funding for virtual learning if local health officials order schools to close down. This news comes as a relief after the education agency initially announced last week that schools had to be opened five days a week, and that schools operating more than three weeks virtually could lose funding. In order for schools to continue virtual instruction without losing funding, a local public health official would need to mandate a learn-from-home order.
- Public and private Dallas County schools will delay in-person classes until after Labor Day. On Thursday, public heath officials anointed all instruction before September 8 must occur virtually. The order also states that any school-sponsored activities and events may not begin until on-campus instruction resumes, and that each school will need to create a written plan to resume on-campus instruction.
- Hospitals must now report COVID-19 data to the Department of Health and Human Services under a new privately owned website. On Wednesday, hospitals were told to shift data from the National Healthcare Safety Network run by the CDC to a new site being created by a private company called Teletracking. This decision was made by the Trump Administration after they concluded the CDC’s data collection process was “too slow” and believe this new system will be more effective for hospitals in reporting data. However, hospital officials who spoke with NPR news suggested this shift would only create more work for hospital personnel, further delaying the process. Experts also expressed concerns about the transparency of the availability of data to the public. “We absolutely need to see a commitment from the administration for transparency in making sure that that data and information is public and verifiable,” said Ashish Jhah, Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.
- The CDC claims the spread of COVID-19 could be under control in a matter of months if everyone wore a mask. A recent study conducted by the CDC vouches for the effectiveness of face masks in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Researches came to this recommendation after tracking two hairdressers who had COVID-19 and wore masks but did not infect any of their customers. The main goal of face masks is to prevent the spread of respiratory droplets which are believed to be the main mode of transmission for the virus. A new concern suggests that airborne transmission could also be possible, but WHO said more research needed to occur before confirming the theory.
- A “No Mask Peaceful Walk – In” is set to occur somewhere in the DFW area on Saturday. What could possibly go wrong? A person named Sam Walker created a Facebook event outlining plans to host a no-mask walk – in for the DFW area. The event page states the address will not be released until 24 hours before the demonstration to “prevent snoopers.” (We aren’t sure why anyone would want to “snoop” around a bunch of armchair health experts without masks, but logic is not important here, we guess!) The goal of the demonstration is to pressure businesses to allow entry without masks. Did they forget this an order by the Governor and not individual businesses? The group plans to enter restaurants and groceries stores. Ironically enough, the event page encourages respecting all employees and law enforcement agents they come into contact with. Nothing like respecting them by posing a direct threat to their health and safety!
- A group of 51 Dallas arts and culture organizations teamed up to create a uniform COVID-19 safety standards to determine how and when they can reopen. Like other reopening procedures, the organizations involved are mandating face masks, enforcing social distancing, utilizing no touch ticketing and more to keep patrons and staff safe upon reopening. This collective is believed to be the first in the state in which both large and small-scale organizations have come together to create universal safety standards.
- Addison’s Oktoberfest is the latest DFW event to be cancelled due to rising case numbers. A statement issued on the festival’s website stated restrictions on large gatherings and health concerns led to the decision to cancel the event. “Due to the close-contact caused by the inherently social nature of the festival, it would not be safe to hold such a large gathering this year,” Addison Special Events Director Jasmine Lee said in a Addison Oktoberfest newsletter. Lee encourages festival enthusiasts to return for the even in September 2021.
- The North Texas Fair & Rodeo Deep Ellum Arts Festival postponed events amid health concerns. The Denton-based rodeo will now commence October 16-24 2020. Executive Director Glenn Carlton said moving the event prioritizes safety for all, allows cooler weather and aids as a healing process for the community. Similarly, The Deep Ellum Arts Festival will be moved to the weekend of April 2, 2021. After initially being postponed for this fall, organizers released a statement on the festival’s Facebook page for reasoning behind the second postponement. An ongoing, updated list of all artists and musicians who will be in attendance in April can be viewed online.
- The city of Desoto will be partnering with the Texas National Guard to hold free testing this Friday for the first 500 people who register. Testing will be done at Desoto’s Meadowcreek Park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All individuals must pre-register and present confirmation of registration upon arrival.
- Tito’s Vodka handed out 44,000 free bottles of hand sanitizer at Fair Park Thursday afternoon after months of distributing sanitizer to frontline workers. Back in March, Texas-based Tito’s Vodka began producing hand sanitizer when avid DIY-ers were attempting to make their own with the liqour. Since then the company has distributed free hand sanitizer to frontline works and residents of its hometown of Austin. Tito’s plans to expand their efforts to other Texas cities.
- Texas Rangers and American Airlines furlough employees as pandemic rages on. Even after establishing budget saving practices including pay cuts earlier in the season, the Texas Rangers announced it would furlough 12% of its employees on Tuesday. All will receive two weeks of severance pay and continue to hold health insurance until October. Managing Partner Ray Davis remains optimistic in welcoming back furloughed employees in the future. American Airlines will be notifying an astounding 25,000 employees who may be at risk of losing their jobs by October, even after billions of dollars were given to bailout the airline industry. This news comes in anticipation of the end of a rule prohibiting layoffs, involuntary furloughs and salary cuts set by the federal bailout that expires on October 1. CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom say they hope to avoid some furloughs through enhanced leave and early-out programs set to be announced at a later date.
- Kroger will join several major retailers in requiring customers to wear face masks while shopping nationwide at their locations. Effective July 22, 2020 until further notice, the policy exempts small children and those with medical conditions. The retailer also recommends individuals utilize its delivery service or free in-store pick up if unable to wear a mask. This news comes as other chains like CVS, Walmart and Walgreens announced mandatory mask policies in all stores across the country. There has been no word on how Korger plans to formally enforce this new rule.
This officially concludes our weekly coronavirus update. As always, check back in on Tuesday for developments that occur over the weekend.
Cover image by Payton Massey.