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Dallas mayor reminds residents: 'We are still in the middle of a pandemic'

Dog parks, skate parks, disc golf and park pavilions will reopen in Dallas on May 22

As businesses continue to reopen, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson reiterated to residents during a news conference Wednesday to continue wearing masks in public and social distance.

"I am going to caution our residents again that reopening is not a return to normal. We are still in the middle of a pandemic," Johnson said. "We are identifying hundreds of new cases every single day. People are still dying."

Health and health care access czar Dr. Kelvin Baggett discussed a need to better utilize testing information.

"It's not just more tests but where are they deployed? And what are you doing with information from those tests?" Baggett said. "And that we are identifying more areas where the virus might be more present."

Contact tracing is also an area of improvement needed in the city.

"We are moving to better leverage our contact tracing," Baggett said. "The data we are getting currently is not meeting our expectations."

Dog parks, skate parks, disc golf and park pavilions will also be reopening on May 22, Dallas officials announced at the news conference. Park pavilion reservations will begin on that date as well, with a limitation of 15 people per gathering.

Top updates for Wednesday, May 20:

  • A study from Europe suggests an alternating cycle of 50 days of strict lockdown followed by 30 days of relaxing of restrictions may be an effective strategy for keeping COVID-19 deaths down and keep damage to economies at a minimum.  
  • Doctors at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth announced four cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C, Tuesday.
  •  A federal judge opened a path for a massive expansion in absentee voting in Texas by ordering Tuesday that all state voters, regardless of age, qualify for mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic.

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

33 Dallas-Fort Worth area hospitals to receive remdesivir

Thirty-three hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area will receive 81 cases of the antiviral drug remdesivir to treat COVID-19, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday.

The drug was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration after showing success in two clinical trials. It's used to help patients recover more quickly.

Distribution of the cases is based on the number of patients in the hospital and in intensive care in each hospital region. Within those regions, allocations are based on the number of ICU beds by hospital, Abbott said in a statement.

Cases to be distributed are as follows:
Collin: 9
Dallas: 39
Denton: 5
Tarrant: 28

The cases of the drug were provided to the Texas Department of State Health Services through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Last week, the DSHS sent an initial 30 cases of the drug to 15 hospitals throughout the state, Abbott said.

"Not only will this drug treat patients throughout the state, but it will especially bolster our mitigation and treatment efforts in communities experiencing surges in COVID-19 cases," Abbott said in a statementt.

RELATED: VERIFY: What is remdesivir?

Dallas County totals more than 8,000 positive cases of COVID-19

Dallas County health officials reported 186 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total cases in Dallas County to 8,090. There were five additional deaths to report, which brings the total to 196 deaths in the county.

"Today's number of cases is markedly lower than what we saw last week and now halfway through the week, we're seeing a health decline in the number of positive cases," Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins tweeted.

The five additional deaths reported Wednesday include a Irving man in his 40s, a Farmers Branch man in his 50s, a Grand Prairie woman in her 70s, a Mesquite man in his 70s and a Dallas man in his 70s.

Of the COVID-19 cases that required hospitalization, 80% of patients who are currently employed say they are essential workers.

RELATED: Here are the confirmed cases of coronavirus in Dallas County

Denton County reports 45 new cases

Denton County Public Health officials announced 45 new laboratory confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, bringing the countywide total to 1,161 confirmed cases since tracking began in March. 

Officials also announced that 21 more people have recovered. 

RELATED: Here are the confirmed coronavirus cases in Denton County

Collin County reports 17 new cases 

Collin County health officials announced Wednesday that there are 17 new cases of COVID-19. This brings the county’s total to 1,090 confirmed positives cases. Officials said 740 people have recovered.

Also as of today, 11 people remain in the hospital and 308 remain in home isolation.

There have been 31 deaths reported in the county.

RELATED: Here are the confirmed cases of coronavirus in Collin County

Tarrant County reports 68 new cases, 2 deaths

Tarrant County Public Health announced two more people have died from COVID-19. The victims include an Arlington man in his 40s and a Fort Worth man in his 70s. Officials said one had underlying health issues. In total, Tarrant County has confirmed 132 deaths.

Public health officials also reported 68 new positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the county’s total to 4,711 cases. At least 1,716 people have recovered from the virus and 217 people remain in the hospital.

RELATED: Here are the confirmed cases of coronavirus in Tarrant County

DART to receive $229M in CARES Act funds 

Dallas Area Rapid Transit will receive $229 million from The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

President Donald Trump tweeted the news Wednesday morning.

DART has continued to operate throughout the pandemic to help residents have access to essential jobs and medical facilities.

Rockwall County reports six new cases

Six more residents of Rockwall County have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, health officials report.

Four cases are in Rockwall, one case is in Heath and one case is at the Broadmoor.

Rockwall County health officials confirm that one patient is younger than 20 years old. The other patients’ ages range from their 30s to 50s, officials say.

RELATED: MAP: These are the confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Dallas-Fort Worth area

Dallas reports hospital capacity

Dallas health officials released an aggregate total for hospital beds from 25 hospitals.

  • Total beds: 5,713
  • Beds occupied: 3,735
  • Total ICU beds: 828
  • ICU beds occupied: 588
  • Total ventilators: 945
  • Ventilators in use: 318

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.

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