A Late-Phase Vaccine Trial In Dallas Is Looking For More Volunteers, Hispanic Texans Continue To Be Disproportionately Affected And More.

Things have objectively gotten worse for North Texas on the COVID-19 front, but with a vaccine trial underway, there’s at least some modicum of hope.

For more on this, here are some of the latest developments:

  • On Thursday, Dallas County reported 641 additional cases and 13 new deaths. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in the county to 56,428, and the death toll to 807. This also raises the county’s average number of cases over the past week to 508 per day.
  • 4,104 out of 5,948 hospital beds in Dallas are occupied, which brings the total occupancy to approximately 69%. 612 out of 934 ICU beds are filled, while 366 out of 999 ventilators are in use.
  • The Texas Department of State Health Services reports that Hispanic people account for 52% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths, even though they make up 38% of the population. According to KERA, most of the data surrounding this exists primarily in Harris County, but the death toll’s racial disparity seems to be happening on a statewide level. Hispanic people make up 41% of the population in Dallas County but accounted for nearly 43% of COVID-related deaths and more than half of the hospitalizations, according to recent data.
  • Pharmaceutical company Pfizer is conducting a series of late phase trials in Dallas this week for a potential coronavirus vaccine, and officials say more volunteers are needed. Those interested in being participants of the study are asked to email [email protected]. Volunteers will receive a $120 stipend for each of six visits.
  • With Texas GOP officials putting pressure on resuming in-person school sessions this year, state Democrats and the Joe Biden presidential campaign are calling on them to stall such efforts due to the rise in statewide cases and decline in testing. Schools are given the option to commence virtual sessions for the first four weeks, with an additional four weeks if approved by the school board, but opponents of this extension insist that it’s not enough.
  • Dallas ISD’s teachers union, Alliance/AFT, is urging the district to resume classes online until Jan. The union is also calling for in-person class sessions to resume in the event that local COVID-19 numbers reach a 14-day decline. As of writing, the virtual period for Dallas ISD can end as early as Sept. 8. Any changes to this are pending the directive of the district’s Board of Trustees.
  • Greg Abbott says that state health officials are “investigating” the state’s upward trend of COVID-19 cases. “We have observed for the past couple of weeks a decline in the number of people stepping forward to get tested,” he said at a press conference in Lubbock. “We do have abundant testing capacity… because we’re not having enough people step forward to be tested as we did before.” Abbott also insisted that bars in Texas will remain closed as long as infection and hospitalization rates continue to stay on the rise.
  • Citing economic strain due to the pandemic, the Dallas Zoo announced Thursday its furloughing of more than 100 employees, and permanently closing the Adventure Safari Monorail and the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park. “The conversations we are having right now are some of the most difficult I’ve experienced as a leader,” said Gregg Hudson, the zoo’s president and CEO, in a statement. “Our team members are among the most dedicated professionals with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working.”

That concludes our biweekly COVID-19 news roundup. Be sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing as much as possible. That should go without saying at this point, really.

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