Dallas, Tarrant counties search for ways to slow spike in COVID-19 cases

The two largest local governments in North Texas continue to try and find ways to deal with the escalating number of COVID-19 cases and the effects. 

Tarrant and Dallas counties insist part of the solution is for more people to get vaccinated.

"In simple terms, out of every 10 people that are getting tested, four are coming back positive. That's a huge number for our community," said Vinny Taneja, Tarrant County Public Health Director.

Commissioners, without the power to issue any pandemic-related mandates, discussed Tuesday a policy that cuts off pay to unvaccinated county employees who miss work because they’ve contracted the virus.

"A consequence of that decision. I’m saying if you don’t get vaccinated, don’t come to me and ask me to pay you when you get sick," said Judge Glen Whitley.

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Tarrant County currently has 1,182 confirmed COVID-19 cases in hospitals, roughly 28 percent of all patients.

"We are at a pandemic high on our ARNOT at 2.1. That simply means one person getting ill is infecting 2.1 other people. That’s why there’s a rapid spread of COVID in our community," Taneja said.

Whitley said in recent days, the managers of three major county departments said they have so many employee absences due to illness they may have to begin closing locations for services if things don’t improve.

Dallas County on Monday reported an additional 2,574 positive cases.

The latest forecast from UT Southwestern shows positive cases could hit 10,000 per day in Dallas County by the end of the month, with hospital cases doubling to nearly 2,500 during that time.

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Dallas County commissioners on Tuesday expressed frustration in wake of the extremely high demand for testing, but a sharp drop in people seeking vaccines.   

"We are advertising, basically begging you go get your shot, go get your booster," said Judge Clay Jenkins.

"We got people sitting in testing lines for five and six hours. This makes no sense," said commissioner John Wiley Price.

Commissioners also renewed a discussion on cash incentives for vaccinations, noting of the 6,500 employees that make up its workforce only about 2,000 reveal they are vaccinated. Commissioner John Wiley Price called that "an embarrassment."

"Let’s put pen to paper. This is what it’s going to cost us. And I know everybody seems to spiral when we say, $500. That might be a good cost offset. I just told you testing on the invoices I’ve seen is $800 or $300 with some kind of discount," Price said.

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