Dallas ISD Thanks Parents, Community as Drive Kicks Off to Fund Hotspots

As Dallas County and the state respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be tough to stay on top of the news that is most important to you and your neighbors. Here are today’s bullet points:

  • Dallas ISD thanks parents and community in video, and the Dallas Education Fund kicks off drive to fund hotspots
  • Close contact and nursing homes are the biggest generators of COVID-19 cases
  • Mayor Eric Johnson asks for citywide ovation for essential workers, says it’s time to move forward on city business
  • Free telehealth counseling offered for anyone who needs it
  • Mimi’s Pizza supports medical personnel with meals
Dallas ISD Thanks Parents and Community as Drive Kicks Off to Fund Hotspots

With what appears to be a permanent (for the rest of the school year) pivot to distance learning, Dallas ISD is now working to make sure that every student has access to both technology and WiFi.

To help accomplish the goal of providing mobile hotspots and technology for every household, the district’s nonprofit fundraising arm, the Dallas Education Foundation, donated more than $425,000 to Dallas ISD, and has launched its Access to Technology and Virtual Education Campaign to drive the effort of providing all district students – today and in the future – the ability to access educational opportunities in a virtual environment.

DEF has already started working with corporate partners, including Linebarger and Associates, Crown Castle, Huawei Technologies USA, and PNC Bank to fulfill this mission.

“Dallas ISD has done an incredible job moving our students forward through these challenging circumstances,” said DEF executive director Mita Havlick. “It’s now up to us, as a community, to help and support the district as they continue on the path towards educating our kids in this new paradigm.”

Meanwhile, Dallas ISD expects to get and deliver 15,000 additional hotspots to students this month. Trustees approved the purchase of 10,000 of those hotspots at the March board meeting, and the Dallas Education Foundation provided funding for the other 5,000 hotspots.

To donate, go to www.dallasisd.org/def.

The district also shared a video message from Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa, thanking parents and the community for banding together to help students and teachers transition to online learning.

Close Contact and Nursing Homes Are The Biggest Generators of COVID-19 Cases

Close contact continues to be the biggest risk factor for contracting COVID-19,  accounting for 82.4% of all cases, Dallas County’s latest aggregate data report revealed Tuesday.

Continuing to climb, however, is the rate of positive cases generated at long-term care facilities. Last week marked the first time such facilities showed up statistically at all, and within a week, the number of cases has jumped to second place at 6.4%, surpassing the former second – domestic out-of-state travel, which is now third at 5.9%.

There are now 120 cases attributed to long-term facilities, and 14 of the county’s 42 deaths are from those cases.

Despite cumulative cases increasing, hospitalizations continue to remain manageable by area hospitals, to the point that Tuesday the DFW Hospital Council told the county that it didn’t believe the county would need the additional pop-up hospital unit at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

In the county’s April 10 aggregate report, most cases continue to be between the ages of 18 and 60, with the 18-40 age group accounting for 33% of the cases, and the 41-60 age group accounting for 37% of the total cases. This week marked the first time that the elder range of that 18-60 age group accounted for most cases.

There were 941 men who were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus (or roughly 53%) and 844 women.

Twenty-seven percent of all cases end up hospitalized – 34% end up in critical care, and 20% end up on a ventilator.

In a city-by-city breakdown, Dallas still comes in with the highest number of cases – 1,045 , or 55.7%. Highland Park has 14 cases so far, and University Park has 18.

Mayor Eric Johnson Asks for Citywide Ovation for Essential Workers, Says It’s Time to Move Forward on City Business

Mayor Eric Johnson is asking for a citywide ovation for essential workers on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Johnson wants people to step outside their front doors for about 5 minutes at 7 p.m. Thursday and cheer for health care workers, police officers, firefighters, park rangers, code officers, workers providing essential services, and all others who are helping the city of Dallas respond to the spread of the coronavirus.

“Dallas is working diligently to deal with this pandemic,” Johnson said. “I want to set aside time for our city to show its collective appreciation for people who deal with the stress of working on our behalf while others stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19. We have heroes among us, and they deserve to know they have supporters all around them.”

Johnson also indicated in a letter sent to the city council that discussions need to begin in earnest on when to start holding regular city council and committee meetings again.

“My intention is – and has been since the beginning of this pandemic – for our city government’s operations to revert to normal, or as close to it as possible, as soon as it is safe to do so,” he wrote in the letter dated April 14.

“While we remain in a state of disaster, I now believe that the need for swift and unilateral action has passed,” he continued, “and it is time to move toward resuming normal city government operations.”

The letter recommends that because of this, Johnson is recommending that if city manager T.C. Broadnax deems any new emergency regulations necessary, he should consult with the city council.

SMU’s Center for Family Counseling Hanging Virtual Shingle

SMU’s Center for Family Counseling, which opened its clinic doors last month, is now offering free telehealth counseling to anyone who needs it during the pandemic.

The clinic, associated with SMU’s master’s in counseling program, is usually open to anyone on a sliding scale fee from $5 to $45 per session, but the center had pivoted to remote counseling after shelter-in-place orders went out countywide.

“What started as a work-around to help the community during this period of mandatory social distancing has proved to be so successful that the center will continue offering remote counseling even after the staff returns to seeing patients in-person,” the center said in a press release.

Counselors are graduate students in the master’s in counseling program offered by SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development. They have completed most of their coursework as well as clinical skills classes to prepare to work with clients under faculty supervision. The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

The clinic provides a variety of counseling services to adults, adolescents, and children who are dealing with anxiety, depression, behavior difficulties, grief and loss, stress, and parenting.

Clinic staff recognized, however, that because they were forced to close the clinic’s doors, there might be more people in need of mental health services related to isolation and other stay-at-home issues, clinic director Terra Wagner explained.

“So we moved to offering services via Zoom,” she said. “However, we plan to continue offering telehealth services, even when we return to seeing clients in person,” she said, explaining that they discovered they can serve more clients using a combination of telehealth and in-person appointments.

All services will be free until further notice, Wagner said.

In addition to the telehealth counseling, five new remote support groups are also open for registration, free of charge: Adult Mindfulness Group, Adolescent Support Group, LGBTQ+ Parenting/Caregiver Support Group, LGBTQ+ Adolescent Support Group and LGBTQ+ Adult Support Group. These support groups will meet via Zoom. Registration for all groups will remain open until groups end on May 7.

The center is located in Expressway Tower, 6116 N. Central Expressway, Suite 410. Services are offered Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. To schedule an appointment,  call 214-768-6789.

Mimi’s Pizzeria Delivers Meals to Local Hospitals

For most, Mimi’s Pizzeria, located on Northwest Highway near Walgreens and El Fenix, is a neighborhood spot for good pizza and pasta and stuffed pizza rolls. But owner Jetmir Ahmedi, otherwise known as Mimi, has decided that the neighborhood spot should give back during the pandemic by feeding those on the frontlines of the battle.

Ahmedi said he will deliver more than 350 meals of pizza and pasta to local hospitals, including Parkland Hospital, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Children’s Medical Center and Texas Health Presbyterian. And, through the end of May, Mimi’s Pizzeria is offering all first responders, police officers, and medical workers 50% off of their orders.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in Dallas, and the world, but especially our first responders, police officers and medical staff here locally,” said Ahmedi. “I want to do my part to show my appreciation and support the essential employees who are supporting our city during this difficult time.”

“We’ve always believed in supporting those who support us,” added Ahmedi. “Dallas police officers have received 50% off of their orders since we first opened our doors in 1991. It makes sense to extend that offer during these times of uncertainty and also offer that same discount to all first responders and medical workers.”

Along with providing free pizzas and pasta to hospitals and discounts for essential workers, Mimi’s Pizzeria provides free pizzas for hospitality workers at local restaurants, and also contributed 20% of sales to Alex Perry and Alexis Smith’s GoFundMe, Kids Save Dallas Restaurants, to give back to his fellow restaurants in need and the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center.

Want to get your own pie? Mimi’s is now offering takeout, pick-up, and delivery Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Delivery is provided by the restaurant’s own staff for a $2 fee. To learn more about Mimi’s Pizzeria, or to view their menu, visit www.mimispizzeriadallas.com or call 972-215-7290.

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at [email protected].

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