The Dallas Cowboys Won’t Be Offering Season Tickets For 2020, Texas Universities Finalize Back-To-School Plans And Much More.
As is expected in a Coronavirus world, a fair amount of updates have come to light since we last touched base.
Here are the latest in COVID-19 developments around North Texas:
- On Thursday, Dallas County reported an additional 537 cases and six deaths. The day before, Dallas hit a new single-day record with 36 reported deaths. County Judge Clay Jenkins said it was a “somber reminder” of the severity of this outbreak. On Wednesday, he also clarified information regarding a TEA meeting on Tuesday and reassured parents that Dallas County would work to ensure students are safe when schools reopen. He also stated Dallas appears to be on a positive trend with a consistent lower case rate than in recent weeks.
NEW: Dallas County Reports 537 Additional Positive 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases and 6 Deaths pic.twitter.com/NQOcIJYXXe
— Clay Jenkins (@JudgeClayJ) July 30, 2020
- Human Health and Services Secretary Alex Azar says a complete coronavirus vaccine could be available to the public by this Fall. On Monday, the National Institutes of Health announced that Moderna had officially begun Phase 3 of clinical vaccine trials. Azar said it was a ‘historic’ event that a final phase could occur only four months after phase one. He is also confident there could be tens of millions of doses of the FDA-approved vaccine by the end of this year. While test result data could take months to receive, Azar said that will not stop Operation Warp Speed from beginning commercial production of the vaccine.
- A Plano teenager is helping to create software to speed up detection and treatment of COVID-19. A 16-year-old student named Moksh Nirvaan used his passion for artificial intelligence to develop a system called COVID Scan AI. This technology reads x-rays of possible COVID-19 patients to identify COVID-related pneumonia. Nirvaan claims it has a 95% accuracy rate and could prevent delays from patients who need to receive treatment. COVID Scan AI has been submitted to a Facebook competition and Nirvaan is looking to offer this technology to hospitals and clinics.
- Over 400 City of Dallas employees have been informed that furloughs will be extended until September 30. This extension impacts workers from a number of departments, including libraries, parks and recreation and the Office of Arts and Culture. City Council member Cara Mendelsohn said due to a drop in sales tax revenue and a need to balance the budget, extending the furlough was one of the only options. One of the departments hit hardest is the Dallas Public Library, which had to furlough 146 employees. In a City Council briefing back in June, it was originally planned to have all employees returned to work either in-person or remotely by July 20. Those plans have since been put on hold due to rising hospitalizations delaying the city’s reopening.
- Some Texas universities are implementing additional back-to-school requirements for students in the Fall. TCU, Baylor and UT Austin have shared more information on their back-to-school plan this week. These plans include student pledges such as TCU’s ‘Protect the Purple,’ which encourages students to take personal responsibility in preventing the spread of COVID-19 on campus. In addition, TCU has invested in technological upgrades, classroom reconfigurations for social distancing, a face mask mandate and disinfecting high touch surfaces twice a day. Baylor is sending out 18,000 testing kits to students, who will have to test negative before returning to campus. UT Austin has asked their student body to self-quarantine for 14 days before making plans to arrive back on campus. According to a New York Times survey, UT Austin has the highest rate of COVID-19 cases for a college campus with more than 440 students and employees testing positive.
- SMU student athletes will no longer be required to sign a COVID-19 liability waiver before practicing and competing in the upcoming Fall season. Back in June, student athletes were required to sign a waiver before arriving back on campus for voluntary summer workouts. The waiver released the school from any liabilities related to the virus. Athletic Director Rick Hart said this voluntary period ended for football two weeks ago and last week for men’s and women’s basketball teams. He said a waiver was considered for all fall sports back in June. NCAA President Mark Emmert said at a Senate hearing last week, he was ”categorically opposed” to schools requiring liability waivers, deeming the action “inappropriate.”
- The 24th annual Dallas Mayor Back To School Fair will still happen this year, but with a number of changes. The school supply drive will now have walk-up and drive-thru options to allow families to safely acquire supplies for the upcoming school year. The walk-up event will occur on Thursday August 21, 2020 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The drive-thru will occur Friday August 22, 2020 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Fair Park. To participate, families will have to pre-register online and provide the confirmation code to volunteers. Requirements include being a student in the City of Dallas or attending a Dallas ISD school.
- The Dallas Cowboys announced they will not make season tickets available for the 2020 season. The team’s leadership made the decision as new league policies and CDC social distancing guidelines would require stadium capacity to be decreased,therefore no longer offering season tickets for the season. Season ticket holders can either purchase a limited number of single game tickets, apply the credit to future ticket purchases or receive a full refund.
This concludes our weekly COVID-19 round-up. Make sure to check back in on Tuesday to catch up with everything that unfolds over the next few days.
Until then, stay masked up.