As local officials monitor the impact of the recent Thanksgiving holiday and the rollback on business openings and capacity on COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and look toward upcoming holidays, here’s what you need to know today:
- County reports 1,663 COVID-19 cases, three more deaths;
- Red Cross urges blood donation;
- Abbott, TDEM launch COVID-19 rapid testing pilot program for workers of small businesses.
County Reports 1,663 COVID-19 Cases, Three More Deaths
The county’s reported a cumulative total of 136,283 cases and 1,237 confirmed deaths, as well as a cumulative total of 13,552 probable cases and 39 probable deaths.
The additional deaths reported Monday include a Dallas man in his 60s, a Lancaster woman in her 80s, and a DeSoto man in his 90s. Each had been hospitalized and had underlying conditions.
“I’m seeing some signs that people are taking the warnings seriously and minimizing their time around others outside of their home. If we all will make incremental changes to improve our response to COVID, thinking not just about keeping ourselves safe, but about making our community and our country stronger until the vaccine can have its effect, we will come through this in as strong of a position as possible,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said.
The county reported the percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 has increased, with 22.3% of symptomatic patients presenting to area hospitals testing positive in the week ending Nov. 28.
UT Southwestern Medical Center noted hospitalizations in North Texas has risen ‘significantly’ over the past two months and the average volume for the past week was 65% higher than a month ago.
UTSW’s data shows COVID-19 hospitalizations in Dallas County increased by 14% over the past two weeks.
UTSW’s model projects Dallas County total COVID-19 hospitalizations could increase to between 620 and 1,000 concurrent hospitalized cases by Dec. 18 and roughly 1,200 new COVID-19 infections per day are expected by Dec. 18.
Since November 1, there have been 5,320 COVID-19 cases in school-aged children and staff reported from over 770 separate K-12 schools in Dallas County, including 849 staff members. Thirteen K-12 schools in Dallas County also initiated temporary closures of their campuses to in-person instruction this past week because of COVID-19.
As of Monday, Highland Park ISD reported three cases among students at Armstrong Elementary, two among students at Boone, three among staff members assigned to Hyer, one among a staff member assigned to University Park, two among students there, three among staff members assigned to the McCulloch Intermediate campus, one in a student there, one case among a staff member assigned to the Highland Park Middle School campus, two among students there, one case in a staff member assigned to Highland Park High School, and seven among students there, according to the district’s COVID-19 webpage.
As of Monday, Dallas ISD’s reported 1,683 cases districtwide, 732 cases among campus staff, 183 among central staff, and 768 among students, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Of all confirmed cases requiring hospitalization to date, more than two-thirds have been under 65 years of age.
There are also 97 active long-term care facility outbreaks, the most since the beginning of the pandemic.
Over the past 30 days, a total of 927 COVID-19 cases have been reported from these facilities, including 309 staff members. Of these cases 42 have been hospitalized, and 29 have died, including two deaths of staff members.
The county’s also reported 22 outbreaks of COVID-19 in congregate-living facilities, like homeless shelters, group homes, and halfway homes, in the past 30 days associated with 168 cases, including one facility with 87 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Red Cross Urges Blood Donation
The American Red Cross is urging those who are feeling well to give the gift of life by donating blood this holiday season.
The need for blood doesn’t stop for holidays. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, more than 1 million blood transfusions will be given in the United States. Donations of all blood types are needed to ensure hospital shelves remain stocked to meet patient blood needs.
To make an appointment to give blood with the Red Cross by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.
Those who come to donate blood with the Red Cross Dec.18-Jan. 4 will receive a long-sleeved Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.
As COVID-19 hospitalizations increase, hospital demand for convalescent plasma has also grown. COVID-19 convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation given by those who’ve recovered from this coronavirus. Their plasma contains antibodies that may help patients actively fighting the virus.
The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether an individual developed COVID-19 symptoms.
COVID-19 antibody test results will be available within one to two weeks in the Red Cross Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity. The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test.
Abbott, TDEM Launch COVID-19 Rapid Testing Pilot Program For Workers Of Small Businesses
Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Division of Emergency Management Monday launched a COVID-19 rapid testing pilot program for front line workers at Texas small businesses. This program will help small businesses throughout the state conduct rapid tests on employees to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Through this pilot program, TDEM will provide local Chamber of Commerce organizations with COVID-19 testing supplies that will then allocate the supplies to local small businesses that choose to participate in the program. These small businesses can then administer these tests to employees who choose to participate. This program has been developed using the framework of the COVID-19 Rapid Testing Pilot Program for Texas school systems, implemented by the Texas Education Agency and TDEM in October, that ensures access to rapid testing for all Texas teachers.
“This rapid testing pilot program will protect the safety of small business owners, their employees, and Texas consumers as we continue to combat COVID-19,” said Abbott. “This effective strategy will help us detect and mitigate this virus while ensuring that Texas remains safely open for business. I thank the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for providing these tests and our participating Chamber of Commerce organizations for partnering with the State of Texas to help protect our communities.”
The launch of the pilot program will include six participating Chamber of Commerce organizations, including the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce, the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation, the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, the El Paso Chamber of Commerce, the Laredo Chamber of Commerce, and the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce with plans to significantly ramp up the program across the state. Small businesses interested in participating in the program may contact their local Chamber of Commerce for more information.