HD113 (COVID-19) Update | VA Hospital Opens in Garland | Gov. Abbott Reopens Texas

Letter to Gov. Abbot – Accurate Demographic Data Needed to Identify the Most Vulnerable

This week, I wrote a letter to the Governor regarding the need for complete and accurate data collection of COVID-19 cases. New York and several other states have presented data that reveals the disparities and inequalities which occur in their communities when it comes to healthcare. What this data glaringly points out is that communities of color suffer more significantly due to preexisting conditions and the limited access to adequate healthcare. Nationwide reports show that infection and death rates are disproportionally higher amongst African Americans and Latinos.

Two weeks ago, Dallas County reported that 43% of the COVID-19 confirmed cases did not report race or ethnicity. Current data shows that statewide, racial and ethnic data of 19.6% of confirmed cases is unknown. Absent of this data, we have no way of knowing if we have adequate resources to protect those most vulnerable. And it has been said that we are only as healthy as the least-insured person in society.

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured residents of any state at 18%, with 27% of the Latino and 15% of the African American communities having little to no health insurance. With many essential service jobs being filled by both of these populations, they are on the front lines of fighting this disease and ensuring that essential needs are met without the benefit of adequate healthcare.

I, along with 41 of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle. believe that Texas should be the example of a state doing the right things. We applaud the efforts by the Texas Department of State Health for the statistical reporting they have done thus far, but we implore them to increase their efforts to collect the most accurate data so that resources can be properly directed to those most in need.


VA Hospital Opens in Garland Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

The once empty Baylor, Scott and White hospital in Garland has found new life as a Veterans Hospital. The facility was donated by Baylor, Scott and White and an acquisition that marked a first for the VA, saving the agency as much as nine years of planning, and potentially a billion-dollar expense over building something brand new.

I applaud the great work by the North Texas VA and U.S. Congressman Colin Allred, who had been working to get this accomplished for several months. The new project will create around 5,000 jobs and serve an additional 184,000 veterans. Initially, the hospital will be a 200+ bed facility to treat both veteran and non-veteran COVID-19 patients.The facility will eventually transition to its intended use as an outpatient and specialty care facility for veterans.


Grocery store employees, essential retail workers can be tested in Dallas County without COVID-19 symptoms

Dallas County residents who work in any essential retail capacity, such as grocery store employees, regardless of their symptoms, can be tested at either of the two main coronavirus testing centers – the American Airlines Center near downtown and Ellis Davis Field House in the Red Bird area. The announcement came from Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins on Monday. Those going for testing will need to show a work ID as proof of employment.

People over 65 or with underlying health problems, first responders and health-care workers can also be tested without COVID-19 symptoms. Others will be tested if they have a fever of at least 99.6 degrees, shortness of breath and a cough.

Within HD-113, there are two public/drive-through testing locations – one in Garland and another in Balch Springs. MD Medical Group is offering the testing for COVID-19. Appointments are required. See the MD Medical Group fact sheet for details. Other drive-thru testing sites are available in north Texas, please check the State Health Services website for a location map and other important information.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

The infection rate for Texas continues to rise, however stay at home measures continue to show positive results in flattening the curve. This has led some to assume the worst is over, while medical experts call for caution and warn against re-opening businesses and public spaces too soon. As of this writing, the numbers of coronavirus infections are*:

Infections:
  • 924,576 total cases in the U.S.
  • 23,773 in Texas
  • 6,404 in North Texas
  • 2,909 in Dallas County
Recoveries:
  • 99,346 total cases in the U.S.
  • 9,996 confirmed in Texas
  • 1,224 confirmed in North Texas
  • 2  in Dallas County
Deaths:
  • U.S – 52,782
  • Texas – 623
  • Dallas County – 81

*Due to COVID-19 rapidly changing developments, these numbers may not reflect the most up-to-date totals.

I, like many of you, am anxious to get back to some sort of normal routine. But it is incumbent on all of us to continue to follow social distancing and disease spread prevention guidelines suggested by the CDC, State and local officials. This is especially important in order to help protect those on the front lines of dealing with this outbreak in healthcare as well as those working jobs considered essential services, jobs that are done by many of our residents who may be without adequate healthcare and limited resources.


Gov. Abbott Seeks to Re-open Texas Economy – Dallas County Commisioners Vote to Extend Stay at Home Order

With the state quarantine scheduled to lift several days from now, Dallas County commissioners had a split vote this week that resulted in the extension of the stay at home order until May 15, two weeks past the state deadline. This in the face of protests here and across the country by groups wanting the to lift shelter in place orders, sometimes based on limited or false information and theories.

Governor Abbott has created a task force made up of some of the most prominent and politically powerful business executives in the state to help guide his decision on when and how to reopen Texas businesses. While he has assured that his decision will also be guided by medical experts, I and many of my colleagues are concerned that opening the state too soon may contribute to a much worse second wave of the virus.

While re-opening businesses is something we all would like to see, my position remains the same in advocating for keeping public health and access to healthcare a priority in the midst of this pandemic. I will encourage the governor to base decisions on lifting the restrictions on sound scientific and medical advice to avoid a resurgence of the disease in our state.