In his report to the Tarrant County Commissioners Court on Tuesday, Taneja pointed out that all of the major indicators are moving in the right direction, although he expressed concern about Super Bowl gatherings that he thinks may lead to an increase in cases.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) website, Tarrant County is still one of the leading counties in the state for active cases.
Last week, 7,763 confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported by Tarrant County Public Health, down from a high in early January of over 17,000 per week.
Currently, 903 beds in Tarrant County are occupied by confirmed COVID-19 patients, a decrease from a high on January 6 of 1,528.
There are currently 996 hospital beds available in the county, including 30 ICU beds.
Tests for COVID-19 in Tarrant County are registering positive about 16 percent of the time, down from 30 percent in early January. Deaths from coronavirus are also decreasing.
Taneja encouraged residents of the county to continue to wear masks, stay six feet apart, wash hands frequently, and get vaccinated. He said he believes those measures are contributing to the decrease in cases. Most have been in place for several months while coronavirus numbers have fluctuated.
Reportedly 212,756 doses have been administered in Tarrant County, 94 percent of which have been administered to residents of the county with 6 percent being given to non-residents. About 8 percent of the county’s residents have received at least one dose.
As part of the ongoing focus of the vaccine administration on the race and ethnicity of recipients, Taneja reported that about 6 percent of those receiving the vaccine are black, 50 percent are white, and 29 percent did not report their race. Among those registered to receive the vaccine, 7 percent are black and 14 percent are Hispanic.
Approximately 15 percent of the county’s population is black and about 27 percent is Hispanic or Latino, according to census data.
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey conducted last fall, only 17 percent of black adult Americans said they would definitely take a free vaccine declared safe by scientists. That number is 20 points lower than the responses of white and Hispanic respondents.
Two members of the public commented encouraging a stronger vaccine outreach effort to minority communities by the county.
County Judge Glen Whitley (R) responded to the callers, assuring them that the strategic plan established between the county and the University of North Texas Health Science Center for vaccine distribution is prioritizing outreach to these communities.
“The challenge will be integrating the hard-to-reach neighborhoods with those who have already registered [for the vaccine],” Whitley said.
In contrast, when asked by an audience member during the public comment section about what metrics the county is considering to bring an end to the county’s mask mandates and other limiting measures and what attention is being given to the increase in suicides and overdoses, neither Whitley nor any of the county commissioners replied.
The county announced that they expect two new vaccine sites to open later this week: a drive-through site at Farrington Field and a site at the Amon G. Carter Stadium that will be staffed by Baylor Scott & White and Texas Christian University personnel.
With the addition of these two new sites, the county expects it will have the capacity to administer up to 60,000 vaccine doses per week.
Currently, the DSHS has directed that certain persons are prioritized for receiving doses of the vaccine. Those include hospital and other health care workers, first responders, nursing home residents, and persons over 65 years of age and those with certain underlying health conditions.
To register for the vaccine, visit the Tarrant County Public Health website.
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Kim Roberts is a regional reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.