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COVID-19 updates: TWC to hold off on 'work search' requirements as state's death toll rises

Texas has now seen at least 5,713 people die from COVID-19 since tracking began in March, new state data shows.

The Texas Workforce Commission announced it will continue to suspend the "work search" requirement for those on unemployment benefits as Texas continues to grapple with the effects of COVID-19. 

Leaders at the state agency said Tuesday they will follow Gov. Greg Abbott's lead and may reimplement the requirement once the economy is able to reopen at a greater capacity.

The news comes as fatalities across the state continue to rise, particularly after state officials changed reporting methods for COVID-19 deaths. 

The death toll increased by about 12%, or more than 600 people, on Monday as state officials began to count deaths marked on death certificates as caused by COVID-19. 

RELATED: Texas' count of coronavirus deaths jumps 12% after officials change the way they tally COVID-19 fatalities

State officials had previously relied on death data from local and regional public health officials. 

Texas has now seen at least 5,713 people die from COVID-19 since tracking began in March, the updated state data shows.

State officials also recently changed how they were collecting hospitalization data in accordance with new federal requirements. 

The Texas Department of Health and Human Services said that caused hospitalization data to be incomplete from at least July 23 through July 27, with only 82% of hospitals reporting complete data to the department by July 27. 

The resulting change made it appear hospitalizations have dropped, hitting an apparent low point on July 23. However, the numbers have quickly rebounded across the state, and hospitalizations remain near previous highs from the first half of July, despite the fact 18% of hospitals are not reporting complete data.  

Top updates for Tuesday, July 28:

For a daily roundup of the biggest coronavirus news from around North Texas and beyond, sign up for the WFAA COVID-19 email newsletter. 

Dallas County reports 789 cases and 15 deaths  

Dallas County health officials reported 789 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and 15 deaths today. This brings the total number of confirmed deaths to 622 and the number of confirmed cases to 40,028 since tracking began in March, according to officials.

The 15 people the county reported died of coronavirus include men and women in their 50s to their 90s. Twelve of them had underlying health conditions, according to health officials. Three of them were long-term care facility residents.

“Today’s numbers, while higher than yesterday, continue the trend of being lower than we saw two weeks ago," Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Tuesday. "The decisions each of us make have a big impact on the numbers and all of us have an important role to play in controlling the spread of COVID-19."

Tarrant County reports 1 new death

Tarrant County health officials reported one new death related to COVID-19 Tuesday afternoon. The victim was a man in his 70s from Arlington who had underlying health conditions, according to officials.

Tarrant County now has 349 confirmed deaths. 13,574 people have recovered since tracking began in March, according to health officials. 

The county also reported 576 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 26,315 since tracking began in March.

Parker County sets daily record with more than 150 new cases

Parker County set a daily record Tuesday with 158 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 982 since tracking began in March.

Palo Pinto County also matched its daily record Tuesday with 15 new confirmed cases, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The county has seen 96 of its 157 cases reported in the last 15 days.

Daily hospital capacity numbers 

The City of Dallas released the following numbers as reported Monday by 25 hospitals. 

Attorney General says local health authorities may not issue sweeping orders to close schools

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a legal opinion letter Tuesday that said local health authorities may not issue sweeping orders to close schools for the purpose of preventing future COVID-19 infections.

Health departments from Dallas and Tarrant counties have issued orders within the last two weeks that prevent in-person lessons until after Sept. 8 and Sept. 28, respectively. Denton County Public Health issued a recommendation Monday that schools should start online-only and delay in-person classes to Sept. 8.

Click here to read more.

DeSoto ISD to begin after Labor Day

DeSoto Independent School District will begin its school year on Sept. 8. The DeSoto ISD Board of Trustees approved the decision at a board meeting on July 27. 

In addition to approving a delayed start date, the DeSoto ISD Board of Trustees approved a revised academic calendar for the upcoming school year. 

Click here for a full list of district plans across North Texas.

Health experts recommend taking the following actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wear a face covering.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Practice "social distancing" and stay at least 6 feet away from others and avoid large public gatherings
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Consult CDC’s travel website for any travel advisories and steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside of the U.S.

WFAA digital producers Jennifer Prohov and Jake Harris contributed to this report.

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