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Tarrant County Gets Expanded Free Testing, Denton County Sheriff Under Fire For Alleged Inhumane living Conditions In The County Jail & Much More.

A lot has happened in DFW since we last checked in for COVID-19 updates, and while we don’t want to get too head of ourselves, it’s not all bad news!

Let’s dive in to developments from the past few days:

  • On Monday, Dallas County reported an additional 426 cases bringing the county total to 47,239 cases. On Saturday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said last week marked the deadliest week thus far in the county. Jenkins also reported the last time there was a single-day count this low was July 22. He also stated numbers may not be completely accurate due to a possible glitch in the state’s laboratory reporting system.

  • Denton County Jail is the latest prison to be exposed for inhumane conditions and lack of enforcement of CDC safety guidelines for inmates and staff. Black mold, raw sewage and piles of trash are present in the county jail’s “quarantine pods” as COVID-19 is spreading throughout the facility. Local activist and radio host, Jessica Luther Rummel was first made aware of these conditions when she was conducting a live interview with an inmate for her KUZU 92.9 FM radio show. Luther Rummel is concerned for new inmates who are being bunked with COVID-positive inmates. Similarly, a protest organizer received a Twitter message from a jail employee who claimed medical staff were not providing proper care and the maintenance staff was not fulfilling repair requests. Denton County Jail currently has a total of 60 active cases after 24 more cases were reported on Friday. A local business, Rose Costumes, has started a ‘Where Are The Masks’ campaign after it was discovered that thousands of masks they created for the facility were never delivered. Denton County Sheriff Tracy Murphree, who has said he “doesn’t have the time” for mask enforcement, has yet to comment on the situation.
  • The Dallas ISD board of trustees voted to amend the upcoming school calendar to shift the official start date to September 8. Chief of School Leadership Stephanie Elizalde said the district needed more time to perfect plans for virtual-only instruction and provide sufficient training for teachers and administrators. In her presentation, Elizalde allocated administrators to receive 14 hours of professional development for virtual learning while teachers will receive an additional 15 to 18 hours of training. Board members also pressed the district about accommodations for students where virtual-learning is not an option. The district said a concrete plan is set to be available in two weeks. Educators still hold a number of concerns with enforcing reopening safety procedures. 
  • Strip clubs, sexually oriented businesses and cigar bars were closed down on Friday in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Dr. Phillip Huang, Director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, enacted this order after code compliance officers reported these businesses were not complying with the face mask mandate. Clay Jenkins previously sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott Thursday night and enacted the order after not receiving a response before 3 p.m. on Friday. Even though strip clubs make a majority of revenue through tips, Jenkins said the reasoning was due to their similar operation to bars. 
  • Rapid testing has been effective in delivering almost instant results, but a prevalence in false negative results is concerning to medical professionals. Director Huang says he has low confidence in rapid testing, even though the FDA considers positive results to be highly accurate. The two main types of tests are molecular and antigen which are taken by nose and (or) saliva. Molecular tests have been deemed most accurate and is suggested to be of highest importance by medical professionals. The FDA says individuals should seek a molecular test if they are concerned about receiving a false negative test result. 

    Infographic by Payton Massey.

  • Free saliva testing has been expanded for Tarrant County residents. Two additional saliva testing locations will operate with limited testing from July 28 to July 31. J.P Elder Middle School on 709 NW 21st St. will operate from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will conduct 450 tests a day. Dickies Arena Parking Garage at 3464 Trail Dr. will operate from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and can conduct 300 tests a day. Residents are required to make an appointment online or by calling 817-248-6299. Face masks are mandatory and patients are asked to stay in their vehicles for the duration of testing. 
  • Paul Quinn College in Dallas will host free testing and a food drive until Wednesday. The testing location will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and free boxes of food will be available from 10a.m. to 11 a.m. while supplies last. There are no residency requirements and results should be available in two to four days, according to the city. No appointments or insurance are required.
  • Mesquite residents can access rent assistance through a number of funds created by local organizations. Disaster Services at Catholic Church of Dallas has a fund allocated for partial rent payments and utilities for those who apply for a fundSharing Life Community Outreach is also offering assistance with rent, mortgage or utility bills through a partnership with Atmos and TXU Energy. These funds have been allocated as part of the city’s “Recovery Mesquite” campaign. Email documentation to Beth Byrum at [email protected].  

That is all for this past weekend’s updates. Check back in on Thursday for everything that unfolds over the next few days. 

Remember: stay home when possible and wear your damn mask.

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