As Dallas County reports record high COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and more promising news about vaccines continues to come out, here’s what you need to know today:
- Dallas County reports record COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations;
- FDA advisory committee to consider Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine;
- Reliant warns of electricity payment scam.
Dallas County reports record high COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations
The county’s reported a cumulative total of 149,533 confirmed cases, a cumulative total of 16,697 probable cases, and a total of 1,403 deaths from the new coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.
Among the deaths reported Wednesday were a Garland man in his 40s, a Seagoville man in his 50s, a Dallas man in his 50s who was found dead at his home, a Dallas woman in her 60s, a Richardson man in his 70s, a Cedar Hill man in his 70s, and four Dallas men in their 70s.
Also among the dead reported Wednesday were two men in their 70s who lived at Dallas long-term care facilities.
Of the total confirmed deaths reported to date, about 22% have been associated with long- term care facilities.
The county also reported a record-high number of hospitalizations Wednesday. Dallas County reported 838 COVID-19 patients in hospitals Tuesday and 565 emergency room visits for COVID-19 like symptoms, 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.
“With the unprecedented high spread we are experiencing, it is important that people plan ahead to avoid crowds. Holiday shopping for both food and gifts can be done online or over the phone with curbside or at-home delivery,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. “Although this requires a little more planning, it will be well worth it in keeping you, your family, your community and ultimately your country a little bit stronger. Masking around anyone who you do not live with while in an indoor setting is also critical to protecting you and the community at large.”
There are 93 active long-term care facility outbreaks. Over the past 30 days, a total of 848 COVID-19 cases have been reported from these facilities, including 317 staff members. Of these cases, 32 have been hospitalized, and 33 have died, including two deaths of staff members.
The county’s also reported 26 outbreaks of COVID-19 in congregate-living facilities like homeless shelters, group homes, and halfway homes, in the past 30 days associated with 165 cases, including six hospitalizations.
Also, in the last 30 days, there have been 4,520 COVID-19 cases 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.
Of all confirmed cases requiring hospitalization to date, more than two-thirds have been under 65 years of age.
As of Wednesday, Highland Park ISD reported one case in a staff member assigned to Armstrong Elementary, one case in a student there, one case in a staff member assigned to Boone Elementary, one case in a student there, two cases among staff members assigned to the Hyer Elementary campus, one case in a staff member assigned to McCulloch Intermediate, four cases among students there, one case in a student at Highland Park Middle School, one case in a staff member assigned to Highland Park High School, and nine among students there, according to the district’s COVID-19 webpage.
Dallas ISD’s reported 2,113 cases districtwide, 928 cases among campus staff, 227 among central staff, and 958 among students, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard.
FDA advisory committee to consider Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine
Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine began to be distributed to healthcare systems in North Texas this week, and it’s likely to be closely followed by Moderna’s vaccine.
Emergency use authorization allows an experimental vaccine to be used if there is evidence that its potential benefits outweigh its risks, while more data is collected to apply for full approval, the New York Times reports.
The FDA’s review confirmed Moderna’s earlier finding that its vaccine had an efficacy rate of 94.1% in a trial of about 30,000 participants. The agency also found the frequency of serious adverse reactions was low, and side effects like fever, headache, and fatigue, were found to be common, but not dangerous, the Times reported.
The FDA also confirmed its analysis “supported a favorable safety profile, with no specific safety concerns identified that would preclude an issuance of an EUA.”
The advisory panel is expected to vote to recommend granting an emergency use authorization, and the FDA generally follows the experts’ recommendations, the Times reports.
Like Pfizer’s vaccine, Moderna’s requires two doses, but the Times notes Moderna’s requires less extreme cold temperatures for storage.
Reliant warns Of electricity payment scam
As the holidays approach and the COVID-19 pandemic continues, consumers are being targeted by scammers threatening to disconnect their electricity.
The scammers, posing as employees of Reliant and other electricity companies, are calling customers multiple times threatening to turn off their power with only a few minutes’ notice because of an overdue bill. The customer is told to make immediate payment via money order, prepaid debit card, or by calling a toll-free phone number.
If a Reliant customer suspects they are being targeted, they should not make any payments to the caller and hang up. Customers can call the number on their Reliant invoice, 1-866-222-7100, to verify the status of their account. Anyone who has fallen victim to this scam should contact the police to file a report.
Customers can also visit the Reliant website for more information.