DALLAS — The Dallas Regional Chamber upped its incentives Tuesday for North Texans to help the state exceed the 70% mark that experts say could lead to herd immunity.
Slightly more than 57% of Texans over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Collin County leads the greater D-FW area with 66.69% of those over the age of 12 fully vaccinated. Denton County is at 60.08%, Dallas County is at 57.59% and Tarrant County is at 53.84%.
And another percentage of concern: health experts say the Delta variant of COVID-19 responsible for a recent surge in cases in parts of Europe now accounts for 10-20% of COVID-19 cases in North Texas.
"It's a big concern," said Dr. James Herd, chief medical officer at Baylor Scott & White All Saints – Fort Worth. "The Delta variant is more contagious, seems to be a little bit more virulent, which means a little bit more dangerous."
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"The ones hurt the most by the economy not being back up and fully running are small businesses," said Dale Petroskey, president and CEO of the Dallas Regional Chamber.
And because the other measure monitored is the economy, and because communities of color continue to have high infection rates combined with low vaccination rates, the Dallas Regional Chamber on Tuesday launched a new public service campaign, in English and Spanish, encouraging people to seek vaccinations. And part of that encouragement includes incentives in the form of a "vaccination sweepstakes."
If you get vaccinated between June 9 and August 31 and sign up online at TakeCareofBusinessDFW.org, you could win free round-trip tickets on American or Southwest Airlines, tickets and signed memorabilia from the Dallas Mavericks (a signed Luka Dončić jersey), Texas Rangers, Dallas Wings, Dallas Cowboys, FC Dallas or the Dallas Stars. Six Flags is also offering several free passes. And Frito-Lay is offering two tickets to Bad Bunny at American Airlines Center next year.
"People belong together," said Rev. Brian Carter of Concord Church who has been active in vaccination and COVID-19 testing through his church as well. "People belong side by side, worshiping together, growing together, serving together, and that only happens if everyone gets vaccinated."
And experts say to do it now before mass vaccinations sites like Fair Park in Dallas are scheduled to close in the middle of July.
"And that's the key. Please get vaccinated before we close some of our larger vaccination hubs," added Herd. "I cannot stress the importance enough. Everybody taking a little extra time, and getting vaccinated."