Dallas County Vaccine Distribution Is Vastly Unorganized, More Vaccination Hubs Open Up In North Texas, Denton County In Short Supply Of Vaccines & More.

When we last checked in on Tuesday, a 20-year-old man in North Texas tested positive for the new COVID variant B.1.1.7, which is believed to be more contagious than the original strain. Fortunately, we can depend on our local officials to distribute the vaccine intended to be effective against COVID-19 and the new strain, right?

Earlier this week, The Texas Tribune reported Dallas County wanted to do away with the plan to prioritize vaccine distribution to communities of color based on indicated ZIP codes. The initial vaccine plan was proposed by county commissioners to the state, which led to contention between the two entities when Texas health officials pushed back on the proposal.

The Department of State Health Services disagreed with Judge Clay Jenkins’ intended plan on account that it violated the expectations of vaccine hub providers on the basis of exclusion. State officials threatened to reduce vaccine distribution to Dallas County if the plan were to continue.

In an emergency meeting on Wednesday evening, Jenkins managed to successfully convince commissioners to reverse the plan, meaning the original prioritization plan was scrapped in order to continue to receive vaccine shipments from the state.

According to D Magazine, Councilman Chad West, who represents North Oak Cliff, informed Jenkins that a large portion of Black and Latino residents may not even be aware of how to register. Jenkins informed West and other council members to spread the word on vaccine registrations.

West, along with Councilmen Adam Bazaldua of South Dallas, Paula Blackmon of White Rock Lake area and Northeast Dallas, Jaime Resendez in Pleasant Grove, Omar Narvaez in West Dallas and Adam Medrano of the central business district all arranged for registration hubs to be set up in their respective areas. The team of seven wrote requests to city managers and the city for laptops and masks necessary for these registration hubs.

Mayor Eric Johnson got a sense of what was going on and ordered city managers to ignore the requests. Johnson — feeling challenged by council members who took it upon themselves to educate the public — stating that “state law and the city charter establishes him as the director during emergencies.”

Imagine need to feel so self-important that you withhold tools from council members who are trying to educate the public on vaccine registration during a health crisis. A city council meeting has been set for Monday night.

Below are the latest pandemic-related updates in North Texas.

  • On Friday, Dallas County reported 1,843 new positive cases and 31 deaths. Thursday’s numbers bring the county’s cumulative case count to 215,443 and the total death toll to 1,975. Additionally, the county reported 222 probable cases.

  • According to Mayor Eric Johnson, as of Thursday, 521 of 1,069 total ventilators were in use. Mayor Johnson also reported confusing bed numbers based on information from 25 hospitals in Dallas.

  • For those looking to get vaccinated, North Texans at vaccination hubs don’t have to bring medical proof of high-risk medical conditions. Because local vaccination hubs do not have access to medical records, a Phase 1B qualifier disclosing one of the listed high-risk medical conditions listed on the DSHS website can still receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • In Plano, two new COVID-19 hubs open up. As of this week, Baylor Scott & White Health locations have begun to operate as state-designated vaccination hubs with a focus on high-risk Texans who meet the Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination plan. A registration portal for vaccinations can be found here. At Plano ISD’s John Clark Stadium parking lot, a vaccine mega-hub is expected to open next week.
  • On Thursday, WFAA reported Denton Count is in short supply of COVID-19 vaccines. According to Denton County Public Health Director Dr. Matt Richardson, 110,000 people have registered to receive the vaccine in the county — only 6,000 doses have been provided to the county. “This is a serious situation. We are still very much in an environment of scarcity,” Richardson said. This news comes after Denton County reported 750 additional cases, 3 new deaths and just 10 ICU beds available as of Thursday.
  • A new survey from Carnegie Mellon University found that 1 in 4 Dallas County residents don’t want to receive a vaccine. The university partnered with the Delphi Group, which is known for its flu-forecasting, to use Facebook to gather the survey data. With an acceptance rate of about 74%, Dallas County does not meet the 80% threshold needed to return to any sense of normalcy via herd immunity. In fact, the only county in the state of Texas found to meet that requirement was Travis County, which covers the city of Austin.
  • President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Thursday requiring masks to be worn on all planes, busses and trains. This order follows Biden’s similar pandemic response executive order mandating all passengers flying into the U.S. from other countries to be tested and quarantined accordingly. Airlines have banned more than 900 passengers for refusing to wear masks since the pandemic began, according to the Dallas Morning News.
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