Change In Census Deadline Increases Fears Of Undercount

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause deadlines to shift and state and local officials continue to monitor the state of the pandemic, there’s a lot of information to keep up with. Here are today’s bullet points:

  • Change in Census deadline increases fears of undercount;
  • Dallas County reports 508 new COVID-19 cases, four more deaths;
  • Abbott to hold roundtable on upcoming flu season at UT Southwestern Medical Center;
  • Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund to award $275,000 in grants to nonprofits responding to COVID-19.
Change In Census Deadline Increases Fears Of Undercount

The U.S. Census Bureau this week announced it was cutting the count short by a month, moving up the deadline for responding to Sept. 30, the Texas Tribune reported. 

The schedule change comes as the bureau started its door-to-door campaign to follow up with households that have not yet filled out the census online, by phone or by mail, but census workers won’t reach some communities in Texas, like the Rio Grande Valley, that are at the highest risk of being missed, until next week, the Tribune reports.

“It seems like not only are they cutting back the time they’re giving themselves to do this nonresponse follow up, but they’re also allocating the least amount of time in the hardest-to-count places in the state,” Lila Valencia, a senior demographer at the Texas Demographic Center, told the Tribune.

If the census is carried out properly, Texas should post huge population gains since 2010 with more than 3.8 million new residents, according to the bureau’s latest estimates. Those estimates indicate Hispanic people will account for more than half of that growth. 

Months into the count, the Tribune reports not even 3 out of every 5 households in Texas have responded to the census. The state’s 57.9% response rate also puts it several points lower than the national average and at 39th place in rankings by response rates among states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Census officials in April reportedly proposed moving the count deadline back “to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the 2020 Census.”

 In announcing the new deadline Monday, Director Steven Dillingham said the bureau planned to hire more employees “to accelerate the completion of data collection” and avoid a delay in reporting counts for seats in Congress and the distribution of redistricting data.

“The Census Bureau’s new plan reflects our continued commitment to conduct a complete count, provide accurate apportionment data, and protect the health and safety of the public and our workforce,” Dillingham said in a statement.

Dallas County Reports 508 New COVID-19 Cases, Four More Deaths

Dallas County Health and Human Services Wednesday reported 508 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the total confirmed case count in the county to 52,639, as well as four more deaths.

The deaths reported Wednesday include a Dallas man in his 40s who didn’t have underlying health conditions, another Dallas man in his 40s who had underlying health conditions, and a Dallas woman in her 60s who had underlying conditions. Each had been hospitalized.

Additionally, a man in his 90s who lived in an Irving long-term care facility was also among the dead reported Wednesday. 

Of the total confirmed deaths reported to date, about 28% have been associated with long-term care facilities. 

More than 2,340 children under 18 years of age have been diagnosed with COVID-19  since July 1. During this timeframe, 61 children have been hospitalized for COVID-19.  Of all confirmed cases requiring hospitalization to date, more than two-thirds have been under 65 years of age. 

“Today’s four deaths include an otherwise healthy man in his 40’s who succumbed to COVID-19. This is a somber reminder that although COVID-19 statistically has a worse course on high-risk individuals, it can cause serious damage and even death to otherwise healthy individuals. We must all continue to wear our mask when outside the home and around other people. Please take your mask with you whenever you leave your home and have a mask available in your car and on your person. Times when you think you will not run into another person could turn out to be an interface with another person, and if all parties are masked, then it’s unlikely that there will be spread of COVID-19. Masks are not a substitute for at least six foot distancing and so distancing is still important, as is hand washing. Also, avoid unnecessary trips and any place where masks cannot be worn by all people one hundred percent of the time. This is necessary to continue to control the spread. If we all work together, more businesses will stay open, less people will get sick, our economy will improve and our kids can back to school sooner. It’s up to all of us to move from our selfish desires to sacrifice for the community good,”  Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Wednesday. 

The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 remains high, with about 19% of symptomatic patients presenting to area hospitals testing positive in week 30. 

Of cases requiring hospitalization who reported employment, over 80% 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.

Dallas County also reported 682 COVID-19 patients in hospitals for the period ending Tuesday. Additionally, the number of emergency room visits for COVID-19-like symptoms in Dallas County was 557 in the 24 hour period ending Tuesday, which represents around 22% of all emergency department visits in the county according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council.  

Statewide, 459.887 cases have been reported from 3,908,235 tests in 250 counties as of Aug. 4, as well as 7,497 fatalities. Additionally, 8,455 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals statewide as of Aug. 5.

Abbott To Hold Roundtable On Upcoming Flu Season At UT Southwestern Medical Center

Gov. Greg Abbott will hold a roundtable on the state’s approach to flu season as Texas and the country continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The event is today at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center. Abbott will be joined by state legislators, medical experts, and state agency leaders, including  Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt, UT System Executive Vice Chancellor of Health Affairs John Zerwas, and UT Southwestern Medical Center President Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky.

Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund To Award $275,000 In Grants To Nonprofits Responding To COVID-19

Lastly, we end today’s digest with a resource available to nonprofits responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund will award $25,000 grants to 11 nonprofit institutions for their COVID-19 response efforts, Mayor Eric Johnson announced Wednesday.

The organizations receiving shares of the total of $275,000 in grants were selected by the fund’s advisory committee based on six priority areas identified by Mayor Johnson, including public safety and domestic violence services, workforce development and childcare for working families, homelessness services, relief for small businesses and residents in need, equity in educational access, and assistance for families experiencing food insecurity. 

Grant recipients include Bachman Lake Together, Crossroads Community Services and Sharing Life Community Outreach, Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, Educational First Steps, Family Gateway, For Oak Cliff, Interfaith Family Services, Mosaic Family Services, Paul Quinn College, and Vickery Meadow Youth Development Foundation. 

“COVID-19 has affected seemingly every aspect of our lives. It has exacerbated existing inequities and threatened the health, safety and welfare of our city’s families,” Johnson said. “These 11 organizations are providing much-needed services as Dallas families recover and rebuild from this devastating pandemic. I am grateful to the donors who made these grants possible as we help our communities overcome the difficult circumstances created by this insidious virus.”

The Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund, which is sponsored by The Dallas Foundation, was initially created to help the City shelter Hurricane Katrina refugees in 2005. This year, SMU Quarterback Shane Buechele and Miss Dallas USA Paige Vasquez teamed up to raise about $50,000 for the Fund. Goldman Sachs also contributed $110,000.

Former U.S. Ambassador and current Hunt Consolidated Senior Vice President Jeanne Phillips chairs the Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund advisory committee. The other members of the committee are The Dallas Foundation President and CEO Matthew Randazzo, UT-Southwestern Vice President for Community and Corporate Relations Ruben Esquivel, The Beck Group’s Executive Chairman Peter Beck, Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax, and Mayor Johnson’s Chief of Staff Mary Elbanna.

“The Dallas community has come together to respond to the unique challenges posed by COVID-19,” said Phillips. “I am grateful to Mayor Johnson, to The Dallas Foundation, and to my fellow committee members for ensuring that these grants will help support critical initiatives that aid those most in need during the pandemic.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone, but for our most vulnerable neighbors — children, the working poor, victims of domestic violence — this virus is truly a disaster, and has only amplified the number of challenges they navigate daily,” Randazzo said. “The Dallas Foundation oversees critical philanthropic resources provided by generous donors from across our community so that we can provide a pathway of hope for our Dallas neighbors most in need.”

To donate to the fund, click here.

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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