As people continued to gather to protest, curfews remain in effect in parts of Dallas and in the Park Cities, and officials continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a lot of information to take in. Here are today’s bullet points:
- Curfews Remain In Effect, Gov. Abbott, U.S. Attorneys Announce Federal Prosecution For Out-of-State Protest ‘Agitators’
- Dallas County Reports 228 More COVID-19 Cases, COVID-19-Related ICU Admissions, ER Visits Remain Flat
- SMU’S Law School Launches Helpline To Help With COVID-19-Related Legal Issue
Curfews Remain In Effect, Gov. Abbott, U.S. Attorneys Announce Federal Prosecution For Out-of-State Protest ‘Agitators’
As protests over the death of George Floyd while he was being detained in Minneapolis continued in Dallas and across the country Monday, curfews remain in effect in parts of Dallas and in the Park Cities from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. and NorthPark and the Galleria remain closed. For their part, Gov. Greg Abbott, along with all four U.S. Attorneys in Texas, announced Monday that those who come to Texas from out of state to engage in looting or violence in violation of federal law will be subject to federal prosecution.
Anyone who is arrested and charged with such offenses will be transferred to federal custody. The U.S. Attorneys will be working with local prosecutors and law enforcement officials to identify crimes that violate federal law. The four United States Attorneys who joined this announcement are John F. Bash, Erin Nealy Cox, Stephen J. Cox, and Ryan K. Patrick.
“Texans must be able to exercise their First Amendment rights without fear of having agitators, including those coming from out-of-state, hijack their peaceful protest,” said Abbott and the U.S. Attorneys. “Today’s announcement will ensure there are harsh consequences for those breaking the law and that they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins also addressed the protests Monday.
“Protests and First Amendment free speech are within the cornerstone of what makes America the greatest country on Earth. If you choose to go to a protest, or rally, or other large gathering, to the extent possible, please maintain 6 foot distancing and wear your cloth face covering. We must move towards a more just society where policing practices are radically improved and violence against black residents is dramatically decreased. Interlopers masquerading as patriotic protestors, smashing windows, and committing acts of vandalism and looting, are among the most effective voices in stopping that radical transformation to a new normal from happening as they sew fear of violence or crime into large segments of the population”
“Government must listen to the voices of its residents and protect the right to peacefully protest and free speech without a militaristic response. We must also ensure that looting and vandalism is not allowed to occur. These are trying times, both with COVID-19 and with the unrest after the murder of George Floyd. We will do our best by remaining calm, and compassionate towards one another and keeping our ears open so that there is an understanding of your fellow person’s point of view. North Texas is home to some of the most welcoming and kind people anywhere in the world and we need that on display at this time of extreme tension and uncertainty in our country and in our community,” said Jenkins.
Dallas County Reports 228 More COVID-19 Cases, COVID-19-Related ICU Admissions, ER Visits Remain Flat
Dallas County Health and Human Services Monday reported 228 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total case count in Dallas County to 10,462, with no additional deaths.
More than 80% of cases requiring hospitalization who reported employment have been critical infrastructure workers, with a broad range of affected occupational sectors, including: healthcare, transportation, food and agriculture, public works, finance, communications, clergy, first responders and other essential functions.
Two-thirds of cases requiring hospitalization have been under 65 years of age, and about half do not have high-risk chronic health conditions.
Diabetes has been an underlying high-risk health condition reported in about a third of all hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Of the 229 total deaths reported to date, over a third have been associated with long-term care facilities.
Local health experts use hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and ER visits as three of the key indicators in determining the COVID-19 Risk Level (color-coded risk chart) and corresponding guidelines for activities during our COVID-19 response. Suspected COVID-19 hospitalizations, ICU Admissions, and ER visits continue to remain flat in Dallas County according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson shared Monday that 25 hospitals reported their bed and ventilator capacity statistics. Of 6,049 total beds available, 3,747 (62%) were occupied, of 925 total ICU beds, 566 (61%) were occupied, and of 967 total ventilators, 291 (30%) were in use.
“(Monday’s) number of new positive cases is the same as yesterday and thankfully we have no new deaths to report. The more important numbers at this point are actually hospitalizations, ER visits and ICU admissions for COVID-19 and those graphs remain flat. We have not seen any of the decline that the CDC and the local doctors tell us is necessary to loosen the standards on activities that will keep you, your family and our community safe. Please continue to avoid large crowds, maintain 6 foot distancing when out, wear a cloth face covering on public transportation and in businesses not only to protect yourself but as a sign of respect and protection for everyone you come into contact with, and maintain good hand hygiene,” Jenkins said.
SMU’S Law School Launches Helpline To Help With COVID-19-Related Legal Issues
Lastly, we end today’s digest with a new resource for families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
SMU Dedman School of Law launched a clinic project beginning Monday with an emergency helpline to offer North Texas residents the opportunity to secure free legal assistance with matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as housing, immigration and consumer protection. Working under the supervision of SMU Law Clinic faculty, more than 45 law students will staff the COVID-19 Legal Helpline, which may be reached by dialing 214-SMU-COVD (214-768-2683).
Callers seeking assistance with certain COVID-19 related legal problems can receive assistance through the SMU legal clinics or, when necessary, referral to local law firms and attorneys providing free services in some specialized areas. Partners like the law firm, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP and SMU Law alumnus Mark Melton, whose pro bono project DallasEvictions2020.com includes more than 80 volunteer attorneys, are already working with the law school to take referrals. Other partners for the project will include the Dallas Bar Association, Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program (DVAP), Legal Aid of Northwest Texas and UNT Dallas College of Law.
“This project is a wonderful example of how deeply committed SMU is to helping our students and to serving the beautiful city in which we are so fortunate to be located,” said Jennifer Collins, Dean of SMU Dedman School of Law. “We are very grateful to have such committed partners and to be able to provide support to our community as we continue to navigate these unprecedented times.”
Those interested in making a financial contribution or supporting the Helpline project can visit the SMU Dedman School of Law giving page at smu.edu/law/giving.