In between working from home, rounds of Animal Crossing, and teaching your children at home, it’s hard to keep up with the fast-paced news coming regarding COVID-19. Here are today’s bullet points:
- Dallas city council approves $4.3 million COVID-19 expenditure
- The curve may be flattening in the county, but it’s not time to stop social distancing practices
- Abbott announces emergency SNAP Funds, Approves Changes for Notaries
- Elizabeth W raises funds for The Family Place
Dallas City Council Approves $4.3 million COVID-19 Expenditure
The Dallas city council Wednesday approved more than $4.3 million in expenditures related to the city’s efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, including the purchase of 10 recreational vehicles.
The council approved the purchase of the RVs and also reserving hotel rooms at the Residence Inn Market Center, Courtyard by Marriott, and Vishwanath Hotel to help first responders quarantine away from their families. The city’s contract with Fun Town RV is good for three years, and includes a buyback option once the shelters are no longer needed.
Also included in that $4.3 million price tag is about $1.2 million worth of personal protective equipment for first responders, including N95 masks.
Nine Dallas firefighters and six Dallas police officers have tested positive for COVID-19, officials reported.
Wednesday afternoon, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson announced that the city would be able to retain its two drive-through testing sites at Ellis Davis Field House and the American Airlines Center through May 30.
The sites were previously set to be federally supported only through April 10, leaving the city and Dallas County to take over operations after that date. The federal government announced the testing sites will remain under the federal program and will see no change to the current processes or procedures, the mayor’s office said.
“I am immensely pleased to hear that the federal government will continue to support drive-through testing,” Johnson said. “Our two community-based testing sites have been crucial assets for the city of Dallas and the region as we work together to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Curve May Be Flattening, But It’s Not Time to Stop Social Distancing Practices
Numbers of patients testing positive for the novel coronavirus continue to increase, but county health officials said Wednesday that the (sort-of) end may be in sight – but only if everyone continues current practices of sheltering in place and practicing good hygiene.
“Data suggests the curve in Dallas County is flattening,” Dallas County Health and Human Services director Philip Huang said in a Wednesday press conference, adding that he estimates the peak may now happen toward the end of April or the beginning of May.
The county’s twice-weekly aggregate data report continues to show that some momentum in the fight to stop the spread.
In the county’s April 7 report, most cases continue to be between the ages of 18 and 60, with the 18-40 age group accounting for 35% of the cases, and the 41-60 age group accounting for 38% of the total cases. One thing that has changed, however, is that until Tuesday’s report, the younger half of that 18 to 60 age range accounted for the most cases – and now that’s flipped to the older half.
There were 666 men who were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus (or roughly 53%) and 595 women.
Close contact continues to be the biggest risk factor for contracting COVID-19, accounting for 79.4% of all cases. Domestic out-of-state travel, living in a long-term care facility, and international travel are a distant second, third, and fourth, at 7.6%, 6.4%, and 4.2%, respectively. Tuesday’s report marks the first time that long-term care facility stays have shown up statistically at all, and now there are 81 cases.
Thirty percent of all cases end up hospitalized – 31% end up in critical care, and 19% end up on a ventilator.
In a city-by-city breakdown, Dallas still comes in with the highest number of cases – 733, or 58.2%. Highland Park has 14 cases so far, and University Park has 17.
More than a quarter of all Dallas County patients hospitalized with COVID-19 have diabetes, data from the county continues to show. That same report also consistently shows that among cases requiring hospitalization, about 70% have been either over 60 years of age or have had at least one known high‐risk chronic health condition.
According to a recent analysis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s BRFSS Prevalence and Trends Data for LendingTree’s QuoteWizard found that Texas has the fourth-highest rate of diabetes among senior citizens, at 25.75%. Overall, Texas came in 25th in a ranking of states where senior citizens were likely to have underlying health complications like diabetes, heart disease, or asthma.
Abbott Announces Emergency SNAP Funds, Approves Changes for Notaries
Gov. Greg Abbott Wednesday announced that Texas Health and Human Services will provide more than $168 million in emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP) food benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state agency received U.S. Department of Agriculture approval to provide the maximum allowable limit of benefits to recipients, based on family size, for April and May. The new benefits will go to all SNAP recipients statewide.
“As the state continues to respond to COVID-19, we are working closely with our agency partners to ensure families have access to nutritious meals,” said Abbott. “I thank the U.S. Department of Agriculture for quickly granting this approval. These emergency benefits will give hundreds of thousands of Texans the additional support they need to provide for their families during this challenging time.”
SNAP recipients will see the additional funds on their Lone Star cards by April 15, and again on May 15. Disbursements will be staggered, the governor’s office said, and begin today.
“The additional SNAP food benefits will give families who are facing economic uncertainty security in knowing that they will continue to have access to food,” said HHS Access and Eligibility Deputy Executive Commissioner Wayne Salter. “SNAP has always been a safety net for households in their time of need. A pandemic will not stop our work to continue helping families purchase nutritious foods.”
As more people want to make sure their affairs are in order when it comes to self-proved wills, durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney, physicians directives and more, signing those things has been difficult to do safely, because all require notarization.
Because of that, Abbott also suspended certain statutes related to appearing before a notary public on Wednesday, allowing temporarily for signers to appear before a notary via videoconference to avoid in-person contact during the pandemic.
“The State of Texas is taking any action necessary to enforce social distancing and reduce the need for in-person contact throughout the COVID-19 response,” said Governor Abbott. “These temporary suspensions provide flexibility in the notarization process for certain documents and ensure Texans are able to stay home as much as possible to protect themselves and others from this virus.”
The process will require the notary to identify the signers by using two-way video and audio conference, looking for remote presentation of government-issued identification that contains the signature and photograph of the signer. The signer will then fax or email a copy of the signed document to the notary, who will notarize the transmitted copy and then transmit that back to the signer.
Elizabeth W Raises Funds for Family Place
Law enforcement officials have reported an uptick in domestic violence cases since shelter-in-place orders were given throughout North Texas, and The Family Place has been at the forefront of providing assistance to victims.
Because of that, Elizabeth W Boutique is partnering with the nonprofit to help raise funds, and the boutique – which is doing business remotely and by curbside pickup or delivery – is giving 10% back from all orders placed in April to The Family Place.
“The Family Place is one of the only shelters in the area that is bringing on new clients, and money raised from this partnership will go to helping the organization continue providing safety, services and healing to victims of family violence,” a spokesperson for the boutique said. “While they are operating with more precautions due to the pandemic, they are still providing emergency shelter, transitional housing, and supervised visitation. In addition, medical care, legal aid, childcare, and educational programs are still in effect at their facilities.”
Shoppers can find new styles at www.shopelizabethw.com, and can access stylists by emailing [email protected], or via DM on Instagram. The boutique’s website is offering contactless home delivery, curbside pickup, style boxes, virtual styling, free shipping, and an extended return policy.
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