Plus: A More Contagious Coronavirus Strain Has Been Reported In Texas, The Dallas Stars’ Season Has Been Delayed, Flights Keep Getting Grounded & More.

On top of everything else going on this week, yes, there’s still a pandemic going on, too.

In the last few days alone, a more contagious strain of COVID-19 entered Texas, the region suffered record-high case counts and hospitalizations, the airports got delayed once again, the Dallas Stars’ season got delayed and, though a “mega” public vaccination site is in the works, the forecasts are grim.

Here’s what you need to know heading into the weekend.

  • On Friday, Dallas County reported 2,387 new positive cases and 21 new deaths. This brings the county’s cumulative positive case count to 188,287 and its total death toll to 1,756.

  • Reports to Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson from 25 hospitals in Dallas showed 4,664 out of 5,916 total beds were occupied as of Thursday. Additionally, 742 of 888 ICU beds were occupied, while 506 of 1,035 ventilators were in use.

  • Mayor Johnson and Judge Jenkins are reporting vastly different hospital bed figures. Whereas the above numbers shared by Johnson show 146 available ICU beds in city limits, numbers shared by Jenkins from the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council find just 17 available ICU beds in the whole county as of Thursday. We’re not yet sure what accounts for the discrepancy.
  • Beginning on Monday, Fair Park will become Dallas County’s very first “mega” public vaccination site. The facility hopes to vaccinate as many as 2,000 people per day — should the county get its allotted doses from the state in a sufficient and timely manner. The South Dallas location also aims to vaccinate a more vulnerable population with less access to sufficient healthcare, and one that has been heretofore ignored per vaccination site location maps. Dallas County has set up an online registration center with more details.
  • Harris County has reported the state’s first case of the more contagious COVID-19 strain mutation. The first positive case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 strain is a man between the ages of 30 and 40 years old with no recent travel history. This variant — the cause of current lockdowns in the United Kingdom — is believed to be 70 percent more transmissible than previous COVID variants, meaning that it could only exacerbate the already-existing pandemic.
  • On Wednesday, yet another ground stop was ordered at DFW International Airport as a result of possible COVID-19 exposure. This marks the second time this week, and third time since December 30, that airport operations were halted due to COVID-19 issues at an FAA control facility. Of the three recent delays, Wednesday’s hour-long halt affected the fewest flights — although hundreds of flights still getting impacted isn’t exactly a win.
  • UT Southwestern’s latest predictions and forecasting reports for COVID-19 in DFW have been released. Available in slide or PDF format, the report analyzes a model for spread trends across D-FW based on medical data. The big takeaway: Per to the model, we can expect to see 3,500 infections per day by January 19.
  • In Denton County, six more residents have died due to COVID-19. This brings the cumulative number of deaths in the county to 224.
  • In the European Union, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was granted clearance. In a statement given on January 6, the EU medical regulators approved of the vaccine on account of a conditional marketing authorization. This medical approval is based less in comprehensive data than what is normally required, but the available data must prove a benefit outweighing the risk.
  • At least six Dallas Stars players have tested positive for COVID-19, along with two team staff members. The team had been practicing in advance of their NHL season being schedules for a January 14 start. Per league protocols, the team’s season opener has now been delayed until at least January 19. The names of the infected have not been released.

Cover photo by Cody Farmer.

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