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Texas Is Facing A Shortage Of Poll Workers, The State Unemployment Rate Drops To 6.8 Percent, The U.S. Hits 200,000 Deaths And More. 

Sorry to take away the luster of the Stanley Cup finals, but election season is right around the corner, and the stakes are even higher now that a Supreme Court vacancy is on the line.

Unfortunately, democratic participation is strained by the pandemic as polling centers around the state are understaffed. The pandemic has also stymied campaign efforts of in-person voter outreach, which many candidates have attempted to circumvent.

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

  • On Monday, Dallas County reported 771 additional cases and one new death. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in Dallas County to 77,889, and the death toll to 995. 306 of these new cases were from previous months, which means 465 of them are new.

  • 4,100 out of 5,846 hospital beds in Dallas are occupied, which brings the total occupancy to approximately 71%. 623 out of 916 ICU beds are filled, while 315 out of 994 ventilators are in use.

  • Nationally, the U.S. hit 200,000 deaths on Tuesday. To put that into context: The U.S. has now lost the same amount of people roughly equivalent to the population of Salt Lake City, or if the 9/11 attacks were to take place 67 days in a row.
  • Citing an influx of backlog cases and delays with previous methods, the Texas Department of State Health Services has introduced a new way of calculating COVID-19 rates in the state. This is reflected in the state’s coronavirus dashboard, which now shows calculations from methods new and old.
  • With a series of high-stakes elections coming up in November, Texas candidates are gradually relying on the efficacy of in-person campaign strategies, pandemic guidelines be damned. According to an extensive report by the Dallas Morning News, Republicans and Democrats alike are resorting to methods such as canvassing to gain an upper-hand in campaigns, especially those deemed by analysts and pollsters to be competitive. While some candidates are inspired by President Trump’s use of rallies amid COVID-19, no official campaign rallies have been reported in Texas as of publish.
  • Coronavirus numbers are still coming in strong among the state’s many school districts. Over the past month, Grapevine-Colleyville has had 23 positive cases, while Garland ISD has had more than 100 students and 40 staff members with confirmed cases since early August. Meanwhile, McKinney ISD has confirmed to the McKinney Courier-Gazette that the district is looking for new substitute teachers as 15 employees have quit since the beginning of the school year. But on the bright side, after early spikes, SMU and TCU have reported a decline in cases compared to last week.
  • Polling locations all across Texas are in desperate need of poll workers. To be eligible, volunteers need to be registered voters. If you’re between the ages of 16-17, you can enroll via the state’s Student Election Clerk program. Otherwise, to register in Dallas County, click here.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor reports that Texas’ unemployment rate in August dropped down to 6.8%, as opposed to 8% in July. To clarify, the Federal Reserve considers the base unemployment rate (what economists refer to as “full employment”) to be 5.0-5.2%. While 6.8% exceeds pre-pandemic numbers, this new breakthrough at least slightly mitigates the state’s previous economic woes.

That concludes our biweekly COVID-19 news roundup. Be sure to wear a mask, practice social distancing and stay home as often as possible.

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