Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja recommended this week that families limit their Thanksgiving gatherings.
While acknowledging that his guidance is non-binding, Taneja suggests restricting gatherings to one’s individual family unit only while meeting with extended family “in a virtual setting.”
Taneja acknowledged that these guidelines will be hard to follow. “It’s hard because sometimes [Thanksgiving] is the only time we get to see some people.”
Additionally, indoor gatherings should be limited to six persons and outdoor gatherings to 10.
Houston has also made similar recommendations, adding that people who gather should quarantine for 14 days before and after the event.
Taneja continues to emphasize the importance of wearing masks all of the time, both in indoor and outdoor settings.
Tarrant County residents should avoid all indoor dining, bars, and gyms, Taneja said.
Commissioner Roy Brooks (D-Precinct 1) spoke favorably of Taneja’s recommendations. “We are in a very serious period with this virus. It is rampaging through our community.”
Between 3,000 and 4,000 cases have been reported each week for the last three weeks in Tarrant County.
Hospitals have over 1,200 beds available with 566 occupied by confirmed COVID-19 positive patients.
Of the 763 persons who have died this year from coronavirus in Tarrant County, over 90 percent had underlying conditions and over 70 percent were over age 65.
Republican County Judge Glen Whitley acknowledged that hospitals are not seeing the occupancy levels they saw in late July and early August when the county experienced a surge in virus cases. He also said hospital officials feel they have learned better how to treat the virus.
In a couple of weeks, Whitley plans to revisit and likely extend the emergency declaration and will discuss the mask mandate. Multiple public comments are made each week at the commissioners court meeting opposing the mask mandate.
In the meantime, Whitley said he’d like to see schools and cities suspend or postpone sporting events and tournaments because he believes they are contributing to an increase in cases in the county.
Commissioner Devan Allen (D-Pct. 2) inquired from Taneja about whether he could relate the uptick in cases to Halloween related events or voting in person.
While Taneja admitted that it is hard to tie any increase to one particular event, he claims that large gatherings would lead to a rise in cases.
Taneja lauded the news from vaccine manufacturers that the COVID-19 vaccine is seeing 90 percent effectiveness. He believes the vaccine will be available on a limited basis by the end of the year and will likely be distributed to first responders as a top priority.
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Kim Roberts is a 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.