This story is from May 14. To read the latest updates from May 15, click here.
Dallas County is currently on pace to have fewer coronavirus-related deaths than those reported last week, according to officials.
On Thursday afternoon, county health officials confirmed six more people died from the disease and 235 additional residents have tested positive.
“Today’s numbers of positive cases are around the same level that we’ve seen for the last 10 days and today’s numbers of deaths, while significant and sad, still leave us on pace to have a less deadly week than last week,” Judge Clay Jenkins said.
Officials say the six victims who died were at local hospitals and residents of Dallas. Their ages ranged from 50s to 90s, according to officials.
Dallas County health officials have confirmed 6,837 cases and 159 deaths since testing began in March.
Health officials say of the total cases requiring hospitalization, two-thirds of patients have been younger than 65 and about 50% of them did not have underlying health conditions.
Diabetes remains an underlying health condition that has been seen in about a third of hospitalized patients, officials say.
Jenkins continues to urge residents to practice social distancing and wear face-coverings.
“This is the best way to stop needless suffering and loss of life and get our economy moving again,” he said.
Top updates for Thursday, May 14:
- Nearly 3 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week as the viral outbreak led more companies to slash jobs.
- In-home testing will now be available for Dallas residents in certain ZIP codes who have mobility issues and have symptoms or came in contact with a positive case.
- Six Flags Entertainment Corporation has announced that visitors will be required to pre-register when the parks reopen.
For a daily roundup of the biggest coronavirus news from around North Texas, sign up for the WFAA COVID-19 email newsletter.
Denton County announces 3 deaths and 27 new cases
Denton County Public Health announced three people died from COVID-19, bringing the total of deaths to 28.
The victims were a Denton man in his 70s, a The Colony man in his 60s and a southwest Unincorporated Denton County woman in here 70s.
“So far, the majority of reported deaths in Denton County have not been current residents of long-term care facilities, highlighting the universal risk of local transmission and potentially fatal outcomes,” said Director of DCPH Dr. Matt Richardson.
DCPH also announced 27 new laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the countywide total to 1,016 confirmed cases.
Dallas County announces new business program
A new business program in Dallas County hopes to make it easier for consumers to understand whether a business is recommended by public health officials.
Businesses in Dallas County that pledge to implement health protocols, like wearing masks, taking an employees temperature and providing hand sanitizer, along with 6-foot social distancing, will receive a Stay Safe Business placard from the county, Judge Clay Jenkins said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
The Stay Safe Business program coincides with the county's color-coded threat level map that was rolled out earlier this week, which is meant to help residents understand where the threat level stands.
Red means stay home, if you can. Orange means use extreme caution. You can dine out, but do so cautiously. Yellow means proceed carefully. You can take a vacation or travel. Green means the new normal until a vaccine is discovered and is widely available.
"We're at red right now," he said, meaning going to the grocery store is recommended by public health, while gathering somewhere in a large crowd is not.
People want to know "not what can I do, but what is safe? What do the doctors say is safe? This will help with that," Jenkins said.
"You'll see more and more of these businesses that have these insignias and give you higher confidence in shopping there and being there," Jenkins said.
He also announced four additional testing sites at Walmarts in Dallas County. Go here for more information on how you can get tested at those sites.
Collin County announced 15 new cases of COVID-19
Collin County health officials announced 15 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 Thursday, bringing the county’s overall total to 993 cases.
Officials say that 668 residents have recovered from the virus, 18 people are in the hospital and 284 people remain at home in isolation.
Texas appeals court allows expansion of voting by mail during ongoing legal fight
A state appeals court on Thursday upheld a temporary order from a state district judge that could greatly expand the number of voters who qualify for mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic, rebuffing Attorney General Ken Paxton's effort to have the ruling put on hold while he appeals it.
In a 2-1 split along party lines, a panel of the Fourteenth Court of Appeals of Texas said it would let stand state District Judge Tim Sulak's ruling from last month that susceptibility to the coronavirus counts as a disability under state election law, and is a legally valid reason for voters to request an absentee ballot. Paxton has been fighting that ruling and had argued that his pending appeal meant the lower court’s ruling was not in effect.
Federal and state courts are considering legal challenges to the state’s rules for voting by mail as Democrats and voting rights groups ask courts to clarify whether lack of immunity to the coronavirus is a valid reason for people to request an absentee ballot. Under Sulak's order, voters can request a mail-in ballot during the coronavirus pandemic by citing the disability qualification allowed in the Texas election code.
The ruling comes a day after Paxton tried to leapfrog the ongoing lawsuits by asking to the Texas Supreme Court to weigh in on his interpretation of how voters can qualify for absentee ballots.
Tarrant County reports three more deaths
Thursday afternoon, Tarrant County health officials reported 135 new cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths.
The victims include a man in his 80s and a man in his 70s from Fort Worth and a woman in her 80s from Keller. All had underlying health conditions, according to health officials.
County health officials have confirmed a total of 4,211 cases and 117 deaths since testing started in March. So far, 828 residents have recovered from the disease.
Uninsured Collin County residents can now get tested for free
Uninsured residents in Collin County are now able to get free COVID-19 tests and physical evaluations.
Earlier this week, the Commissioners Court authorized $3 million to cover testing costs using a voucher system. This means the county will be billed directly by local healthcare providers, according to a news release.
Residents are encouraged to call their health provider to see if they will accept the Collin CARES vouchers.
The funding comes from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Daily hospital capacity numbers
The city of Dallas released the following numbers as reported Wednesday by 25 hospitals.
- Total beds: 5,713
- Beds occupied: 3,685
- Total ICU beds: 823
- ICU beds occupied: 554
- Total ventilators: 948
- Ventilators in use: 334
Health experts recommend taking the following actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- 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.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- 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.
More on WFAA:
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- Schools will need to address learning lapses post-COVID, experts say
- Fort Worth Zoo making preparations for reopening
- COVID-19 scrapped his commencement, so this father hilariously strolled around Costco in his cap and gown instead
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