Federal COVID-19 Vaccine Site Open In Dallas

As local officials begin to get a clearer look at COVID-19 data after last week’s winter storm, the county begins a partnership with feds to vaccinate underserved communities from 17 priority ZIP codes, and winter storm response continues, here’s what you need to know today:

  • Dallas County reports 789 COVID cases, 25 additional deaths;
  • Abbott: State using ‘every possible resource’ to address winter storm fallout;
  • Dallas offers emergency home repairs to low-and-moderate-income homeowners.
Dallas County reports 789 COVID cases, 25 additional deaths

Dallas County Wednesday reported 789 more COVID-19 cases – 507 confirmed and 282 probable cases – and 25 additional deaths.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the county’s reported a cumulative total of 243,847 confirmed cases, 34,647 probable cases, and 2,899 deaths. 

Each of the additional deaths reported Wednesday were 50 or older and most had underlying conditions.

“The numbers are hopefully returning to a more normal outlook on where we are as a community after several days of artificially low numbers from the lack of testing and reporting during last week’s winter storm,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

The county Wednesday began its partnership with the Biden administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Department of Defense at Fair Park to vaccinate the most underserved populations in Dallas County in 17 priority ZIP codes.

Jenkins said the county will also continue Thursday providing second Moderna shots for anyone that was due for a second shot on or before Feb. 17.

“Getting these second doses administered, along with our goal of vaccinating 3,000 persons per day using the Pfizer vaccine, will help us get closer to the overall goal of herd immunity,” he said. “However, that can only happen if we remain diligent in doing the other things that reduce community spread: washing hands, wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding crowds.”

For second doses, Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Phil Huang said during a WFAA interview Wednesday that Fair Park vaccine operations were open yesterday for those due for their second dose Feb. 16 or earlier, will see people due for their second dose Feb. 17 or earlier today, and are asking people to arrive about the same time of day they received their first shot.

“There’s a lot of capacity here to see a lot of people and it’s a really nice partnership with FEMA,” Huang said.

The county says they’ve given 45,643 first doses of COVID-19 vaccine at the Fair Park mega-vaccine clinic since it opened Jan. 11. 

Dallas County reported 548 hospitalized COVID-19 patients Tuesday, and 438 emergency room visits for COVID-19 like symptoms for the same time-period, which represents around 16 percent of all emergency department visits in the county according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council.  

There were 3,894 COVID-19 cases in school-aged children and staff reported from 628 separate K-12 schools in Dallas County during the past 30 days. One death of a teacher in a Dallas County K-12 school from COVID-19 was confirmed this past week. A total of 466 children in Dallas County under 18 years of age have been hospitalized since the beginning of the pandemic, including 37 patients diagnosed with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children (MIS-C).

The county also reports 85 active long-term care facility outbreaks. A cumulative total of 4,170 residents and 2,325 healthcare workers in long-term facilities in Dallas have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Of these, 932 have been hospitalized and 579 have died. About 22% of all deaths reported to date have been associated with long- term care facilities.  

The county’s also reported 11 outbreaks of COVID-19 in congregate-living facilities, such as homeless shelters, group homes, and halfway homes, in the past 30 days. A cumulative total of 390 residents and 195 staff members in congregate-living facilities in Dallas have been diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Abbott: State using ‘every possible resource’ to address winter storm fallout

Gov. Greg Abbott vowed during a statewide address Wednesday that the state is using every possible resource” to address the fallout of last week’s winter storms.

“Tragic does not even begin to describe the devastation and the suffering that you have endured over the past week. Too many of you were shivering in your own homes with no power, no heat, and no water,” Abbott said. “I assure you this: This legislative session will not end until we fix these problems.”

 He said the state’s investigating multiple electric providers about “skyrocketing” power bills, prevented power from being shut off for unpaid bills until the legislature has time to act, called for an overhaul of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the flow of power in the state, and mandating and funding the winterization of power infrastructure. 

Abbott’s address came the same day ERCOT directors heard about how, in the early morning hours of Feb.15, the state’s grid was 4 minutes and 37 seconds away from collapse, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Abbott noted five board members had resigned before his address.

“But more must be done,” he said.

Abbott added that the state legislature’s hearings to investigate ERCOT begin today, and Attorney General Ken Paxton is investigating ERCOT.

Dallas offers emergency home repairs to low-and-moderate income homeowners

The Department of Housing & Neighborhood Revitalization is funding emergency home repairs to its low-and-moderate income homeowners whose primary residences within the city of Dallas were damaged due to the February 2021 winter storm. Wednesday, the Dallas City Council voted unanimously to allocate $2 million towards its emergency home repair program.

“This program is crucial to families who may not have the means to repair or restore their homes after sustaining damage from the 2021 Winter Storm,” said David Noguera, director of housing and neighborhood revitalization. “The city, along with its federal, state and county agencies are committed to finding resources to meet the needs of our low-to-moderate income homeowners.”

Residents who qualify for the program have two options for assistance – the rebate program or the non-profit program. Under the rebate program, Dallas residents who paid a licensed contractor to repair damages to their homes are eligible for reimbursement up to $10,000.

Homeowners who lack funding to pay up front for repairs are eligible to apply through the city’s non-profit partners for assistance. Each non-profit organization receiving grant funding from the city is required to administer case management and procure contractors. An announcement will be made soon identifying the organizations and the application process.

Homeowners within the city of Dallas with household incomes at or below 80% of the area median income qualify as long as the damage to the home occurred during the winter storm and applicants reside primarily in the premises needing repair.

The programs will cover the following repairs and or replacements: Wall/floor removal, sewer lines, gas lines, water lines and/or water damage, roof, electrical system, HVAC units, plumbing fixtures – including sink pipes and toilets damaged by frozen condition — and mold remediation. For more information on the rebate program, residents should call the Dallas Department of Housing & Neighborhood Revitalization at 214-670-3644 or email at HIPP@dallascityhall.com. For a list of non-profits partnering with the city, visit www.dallashousingpolicy.com.

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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