As the first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are distributed in North Texas and local experts continue to urge public health measures like masking and social distancing until vaccines are more widely available, here’s what you need to know today:
- First COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Dallas;
- Dallas County reports 1,699 COVID-19 cases, six deaths.
First COVID-19 Vaccines Arrive In Dallas
The first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine arrived in North Texas Monday.
Methodist Dallas Medical Center was the first hospital in North Texas to receive doses of the vaccine Monday morning, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Four sites across the state received 19,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine Monday morning.
“Seeing the first doses of vaccine arrive in Texas is an important milestone signaling that a return to our way of life is within sight,” said Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt in a statement. “We cannot stop short of the finish line. This hope should lift our spirits and strengthen our resolve to do what must be done to end the pandemic.”
The first to receive shots were physicians, nurses, and nonclinical staff followed by workers and employees who interact closely with COVID-19 patients, the DMN reported.
The newspaper reported more than 100 employees were set to be vaccinated Monday, with immunizations set to continue this morning.
Aside from Methodist Dallas, Wellness 360 in San Antonio, UT Health Austin Dell Medical School, and the MD Cancer Center in Houston received doses Monday.
Another 19 sites, including Parkland and UT Southwestern Medical Center, are set to receive a combined 75,075 doses today.
Texas was allocated 224,250 doses of vaccine to be shipped to 110 providers across the state in the first week of distribution, according to the Department of State Health Services.
The focus is on facilities that indicated they will vaccinate at least 975 front-line health care workers since that is the minimum order for the Pfizer vaccine, the department says.
The Pfizer vaccine began shipping over the weekend following an emergency use authorization issued Friday by the Food and Drug Administration. The Pfizer vaccine began shipping over the weekend following an emergency use authorization issued Friday by the Food and Drug Administration.
Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary. Front-line health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities are the first groups to be vaccinated, and the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel will make recommendations about subsequent groups, according to the department. It will take a matter of months to manufacture and distribute enough vaccine for everyone who wants to be vaccinated, DSHS notes.
“Until then, people should continue to prevent transmission of COVID-19 by wearing a mask and maintaining a social distance while around people they don’t live with, staying home when possible, and washing their hands frequently,” a press release from the department reads.
Dallas County Reports 1,699 More COVID-19 Cases, Six Deaths
Dallas County Monday reported 1,699 more cases of COVID-19–1,519 confirmed and 180 probable – as well as six more deaths.
The county’s reported a cumulative total of 146,042 confirmed cases, 15,803 probable cases, and a total of 1,385 deaths.
The additional deaths reported Monday include a Richardson woman in her 60s, two Dallas women in their 60s, a Dallas man in his 70s, a Cedar Hill man in his 80s, and a Garland man in his 90s. All had underlying health conditions.
“It is an exciting day for America and for Dallas County as the first COVID vaccines are being given today, but remember, as these 1,699 cases and six deaths illustrate, COVID is still with us. Last week was our deadliest week and we are currently at our highest daily average of new COVID cases that we have seen thus far in the pandemic,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins Monday.
UT Southwestern Medical Center reported COVID-19 hospitalizations increased by 2% during the last two weeks.
UTSW’s model projects Dallas County total COVID-19 hospitalizations could reach between 580 and 980 concurrent hospitalized cases by Dec. 25, and roughly 1,400 new COVID-19 infections per day are expected by Dec. 25.
The county also reports 97 active long-term care facility outbreaks. Over the past 30 days, a total of 928 COVID-19 cases have been reported from these facilities, including 364 staff members. Of these cases 35 have been hospitalized and 41 have died, including two deaths of staff members.
Of the total confirmed deaths reported to date, about 22% have been associated with long-term care facilities.
Additionally, the county’s reported 26 outbreaks of COVID-19 in congregate-living facilities, such as homeless shelters, group homes, and halfway homes, have been reported in the past 30 days associated with 166 cases, including eight hospitalizations. One facility has reported 89 COVID-19 cases since October.
Over the past 30 days, there have also been 4,520 COVID-19 cases reported in school-aged children and staff reported from 735 separate K-12 schools in Dallas County, including 681 staff members. Of these cases, 534 have been associated with extracurricular activities, including athletics.
As of Monday, Highland Park ISD reported one case among a staff member assigned to the Armstrong Elementary campus, one case in a student there, one case among a staff member assigned to the Boone Elementary campus, two cases among students there, two cases among staff members assigned to the Hyer Elementary campus, one case among a student at University Park, one case among a staff member assigned to the McCulloch Intermediate campus, two among students there, one case among a staff member assigned to Highland Park High School, and eight among students there, according to the district’s COVID-19 webpage.
Dallas ISD reported 1,970 total cases districtwide, 847 among campus staff, 214 among central staff, and 909 among students as of Monday, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard.