Jenkins: ‘February Will Be a Dark Time’

As we’ve discussed before, COVID-19 deaths are a lagging indicator, and that has been reflected in the daily death tolls as of late – but hospitalizations do seem to be decreasing, and numbers of new cases are also slowing down. Here is what you need to know today:

  • Jenkins says ‘February will be a dark time;’
  • Gov. Abbott announces extension of SNAP benefits;
  • Preston Hollow Presbyterian will hold food drive Sunday;
  • Hillcrest, White, and Thomas Jefferson feeder patterns to have virtual Fam Jam tonight.
Jenkins says ‘February will be a dark time’

Dallas County health officials reported 1,438 additional cases of COVID-19, with 1,305 confirmed cases and 133 probable cases. The county also reported 39 new deaths.

Among the dead are a Grand Prairie man in his 40s, a Dallas man in his 50s, two Dallas women in their 60s, two Irving men in their 60s, four Dallas men in their 60s, a Grand Prairie man in his 60s who died in hospice, four Dallas men in their 70s (one died in a local hospital emergency room), a Dallas woman in her 70s, a Garland man in his 70s, a Coppell woman in her 70s, a DeSoto man in his 70s, a Grand Prairie woman in her 70s, a Garland man in his 80s, two Garland women in their 80s (one was found dead in her home, the other expired in a facility), two Dallas men in their 80s, two Dallas women in their 80s (one died in hospice), a Grand Prairie woman in her 80s who died in hospice, and a Dallas man in his 90s.

About 22% of all deaths reported to date have been associated with long-term care facilities, including a woman in her 40s who died in an Irving facility, a man in his 60s who died in a Dallas facility, a woman in her 70s who lived in a Duncanville facility, a man in his 80s who lived in a Dallas facility and died in hospice, two men in their 80s who died at Mesquite facilities, a woman in her 90s who lived in a Garland facility, and three women in their 90s who lived in Dallas facilities (one died in hospice, two died at the facilities they lived in).

“Today we announced another 39 deaths and 1438 cases, this number of deaths is only one less than our record which we reported yesterday,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. “We know that February will be a dark time for death due to the high number of people who contracted COVID-19 in the last two months. However, if we make good decisions today, we will see that manifest itself with less cases in 10 to 14 days and less death next month with more of our most vulnerable getting vaccinated each day.”

The county said that the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations Friday was 914 patients. Emergency room visits for COVID-19 symptoms represented about 21% of all ER visits, according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council

Four cases of a COVID-19 variant have been identified in residents of Dallas County who have not traveled outside of the U.S. The percentage of positive tests among symptomatic patients coming to area hospitals was 25.7% for the week ending Jan. 23.

Over the past 30 days, there have been 9,471 COVID-19 cases in school-aged children and staff reported from 733 separate K-12 schools in Dallas County.

A total of 420 children in Dallas County under 18 years of age have been hospitalized since the beginning of the pandemic, including 32 patients diagnosed with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children.  More than 80% of reported MIS-C cases in Dallas have occurred in children who are Hispanic or Latino or Black.

Gov. Abbott announces extension of SNAP benefits

Gov. Greg Abbott Tuesday announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission will provide approximately $300 million in emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits for the month of February as the state continues its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are grateful for this additional extension of emergency SNAP benefits for the month of February,” said Abbott. “We will continue to provide Texas families with the resources they need to put food on the table and provide for their loved ones.” 

“These emergency food benefits will provide additional support for Texans to purchase nutritious foods for their families during the ongoing pandemic,” said Texas HHS Access and Eligibility Services Deputy Executive Commissioner Wayne Salter.

HHSC received federal approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to extend the maximum, allowable amount of SNAP benefits to recipients based on family size. The emergency February allotments are in addition to the more than $2 billion in benefits previously provided to Texans since April 2020.  

Recipients will also continue to receive a 15% increase in their total benefits, which will continue monthly until June 2021. This additional 15% increase and the emergency allotment amount should appear in recipients’ accounts by Feb. 28.

Administered by HHSC, SNAP is a federal program that provides food assistance to approximately 1.6 million eligible low-income families and individuals in Texas.

Texans in need can apply for benefits, including SNAP and Medicaid, at YourTexasBenefits.com or use the Your Texas Benefits mobile app to manage their benefits.

Preston Hollow Presbyterian will hold food drive Sunday

Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church will hold a food drive Feb. 7, from 8 a.m. to noon.

Research has shown that hunger has doubled in Texas during the pandemic,” a church spokesperson said. “SNAP benefits are up 15%, and food pantries around the Metroplex are working hard to keep up with demand. In response to this widespread hunger, the youth of Preston Hollow are hosting a Souper Bowl Sunday drive-by food drive.”

Youth volunteers will accept non-perishable food donations and sort them. Most needed items include tuna and other canned meat like chicken, stew, chili, salmon or corned beef; soups; canned fruit in juice; canned vegetables; pasta; peanut butter; cereal; milk products; rice; and baby food.

The church is located at 9800 Preston Road.

Hillcrest, White, and Thomas Jefferson feeder patterns to have virtual Fam Jam tonight

Dallas ISD will have a virtual Fam Jam tonight for the Hillcrest, W.T. White, and Thomas Jefferson feeder patterns, starting at 5 p.m. Parents can learn more about topics like cyber safety, bullying, college readiness, as well as school choice and other programs offered by the district.

To register, click here.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy 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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