Rising HPHS Senior Organizes Peaceful Rally At Hillcrest and Lovers 

As protests continue in Dallas and across the country and officials continue to monitor the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to cover the local implications and response. Here’s what you need to know today:

  • Rising HPHS Senior Organizes Peaceful Rally At Hillcrest and Lovers 
  • Dallas County Sees Slight Decrease In New Positive COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations Remain Flat
  • Gov. Abbott, TDEM Announce Expanded COVID-19 Testing In Underserved Communities 

Rising HPHS Senior Organizes Peaceful Rally At Hillcrest and Lovers 

A group of an estimated 100 people gathered at Hillcrest Avenue and Lovers Lane between 2:30 and 5 p.m. Monday for a peaceful rally organized by new Highland Park High School senior Dharmashree Kikkeri.

The rally marked the third such protest in the Park Cities or Preston Hollow area since the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis touched off demonstrations nationwide.

“It was very sad to see all these killings of innocent black people for no reason, so I really wanted to put an emphasis on my own community,” Dharmashree said. 

She, with her sisters, Anagha, Divya, and mother, Neeraja, created a graphic, shared the event on social media, and she got approval from the University Park Police Department for it. 

She said she’s planning to re-start the equality club at her high school and is on the student council. 

The crowd was met with supportive honks,  sometimes thumbs up or fist pumps, from passing cars, as well as one shout of “all lives matter!” from the driver of a car passing by. At one point, the driver of a cement mixer truck stopped to thank to the crowd. The crowd periodically chanted “no justice, no peace” and “black lives matter.” The crowd also took part in calls and responses of “say his name!” to which the crowd responded, “George Floyd!’ and “say her name!” to which the crowd responded, “Breonna Taylor!” Officers executing a no-knock warrant shot and killed Taylor in her apartment in Louisville, according to NPR. Her family’s lawyers told NPR that Taylor wasn’t the subject of the investigation.

The family also invited Sharif Long and nonprofit Power Inc. founder Angela Smith to speak.

Smith sounded a hopeful note about the future.

“If you look around here, I see people in the generation after me. You guys are going to be the ones to make this right,” she said.

Long encouraged the crowd to continue advocating.

“It’s one thing to acknowledge diversity, but it’s another thing to embrace it,” he said. “We have to speak up and we have to do our part.”

Dallas County Sees Slight Decrease In New Positive COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations Remain Flat

Dallas County Health and Human Services reported 254 more positive cases of COVID-19 Monday, bringing the total case count in Dallas County to 12,347, and 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. 

More than two-thirds of cases requiring hospitalization have been under 65 years of age, and about half do not have any 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 264 total deaths reported to date, over a third have been associated with long-term care facilities.

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 bed and ventilator capacity statistics. Of 6,052 total beds, 3,922 (65%) were occupied, of 925 total ICU beds, 610 (66%) were occupied, and of 968 total ventilators, 313 (32%) were in use.

“(Monday’s) numbers are a slight decrease from yesterday. We’re hopeful that the increase that we saw over the last few days was due to population testing in nursing homes and other factors and not the beginning of a spike in cases. Doctors will be watching this closely for the next few days to try to determine that. The indicators to watch are hospitalizations, ICU admissions for COVID-19, ER visits for COVID-19 and deaths. These numbers are remaining flat. In order to move to a less stringent activities guideline, local doctors and the CDC want to see a 14 day decline in those numbers. Thus far we’ve seen no decline. So please continue to avoid crowds, maintain 6 foot distancing when outside the house, wear a cloth face covering to protect yourself and as a sign of respect and protection for those around you when outside the home, and use good hygiene. When soap and water is not available, please use hand sanitizer, although soap and water is preferred,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said.

Jenkins also addressed continuing protests in the Dallas area and across the country.

“If you are attending protests or mass gatherings, please try to maintain 6 foot distancing, and please note that we have two new test sites open today through Saturday at Red Bird Mall and Inspired Vision Compassion Center from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. for walk up testing. There is still free drive-thru testing at the American Airlines Center and Ellis Davis Field House. If you don’t have a car, please go to Red Bird Mall or Inspired Vision Compassion Center. If you’ve been involved in a protest and your involvement was five days or more ago, you are eligible for a free test at any of those locations. We also recommend that persons who participated in the protests avoid coming into contact with people who are 60 or older or who have underlying health conditions. Your information will not be shared with law enforcement and it’s important that you know your status to protect yourself, your family and the community,” he said. 

Gov. Abbott, TDEM Announce Expanded COVID-19 Testing In Underserved Communities 
Photo courtesy Office of Gov. Greg Abbott

Lastly, as usual, we end today’s digest with news of additional resources. Gov. Greg Abbott Monday announced that the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) is coordinating with local officials, public health officials, and emergency management offices across the state to expand COVID-19 testing in underserved and minority communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the virus. The initiative is part of TDEM’s ongoing partnership with the Texas Military Department (TMD), the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force (EMTF), and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and increase testing. 

TDEM is already reportedly working with local officials in the cities of Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, El Paso, Abilene, the Rio Grande Valley, the Coastal Bend, Laredo, and Midland-Odessa to identify and establish walk-up and drive-thru testing sites, and is in the process of working with other cities to bring more sites online in the coming days. TDEM is also working with local leaders to expand walk-up and drive-thru testing in urban areas where large-scale protests have taken place.

“As the State of Texas continues to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we are committed to ensuring every Texan has access to COVID-19 testing no matter where they live,” said Abbott. “We must address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on underserved and minority communities and ensure that anyone who needs a test can have one. As many Texans continue to gather for protests, the state is also taking steps to address potential surges in COVID-19 cases. We are ensuring that Texans can continue to safely exercise their First Amendment Rights while putting protocols in place to identify and mitigate any spread of COVID-19.”

To find a test collection nearest you, visit covidtest.tdem.texas.gov. 

TMD currently has 1,535 National Guardsmen helping to expand testing.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

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