Rambler Newspapers

Serving Irving, Coppell and Grand Prairie

Dallas County Judge Addresses COVID-19

Dallas—COVID-19 was the primary topic of the day during the 2021 State of Dallas County Address on Thursday, August 26.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins spent the majority of the address discussing COVID-19 issues. Since June 14, Dallas County has seen a 1,313 percent increase in positive active cases, a 701 percent increase in hospitalizations, and a 710 percent increase in ICU admissions.

“The current COVID situation is not good,” Jenkins said. “We’re at our highest risk level according to the doctors. We’re up to 28 ICU beds for adults in Dallas County. For 19 counties, Hood County, Dallas, and Tarrant, all these counties pretty far away from here, we have zero pediatric ICU beds. Zero.

“That means you’re waiting for a kid to get better, or die, or you’re waiting for a helicopter to transport your child far away, so you can get ICU care. That’s true for COVID, which is what most of the kids are there for, but it’s also true for car wrecks, [or] a heart condition that flares up. You’re seeing doctors making decisions about care they wouldn’t have [had to make] two weeks ago or last week or certainly a month ago.

“The doctors estimate that hospitalizations for Dallas County by Sept. 6 will be well above what we’ve ever seen before.”

Projections show by October, hospitalizations could reach 20 times where they were in June.

“That hospital capacity issue leads to, in the past, the governor shutting down business and shutting down things, so getting our hospital capacity to where we can handle a surge is important,” Jenkins said. “That’s why masking right now is so important. I’m working on the White House to get more and more traveling nurses here, but it’s slow going.

“Unfortunately, we see a lot of sick kids, so be aware of that and get your kid to wear a mask at school and kind of think about the activities with your kid. The second group we see is parents, people under 49.  

“That’s why we’re doing masking inside buildings right now. We don’t have the hospital capacity for y’all to get sick. We don’t want a situation where we have to invoke the Mass Critical Care plan, which people are beginning to hear about, which is where you decide who gets the ventilator, because you don’t have enough. On a larger scale, you send people home from the hospital. That’s why people need to get vaccinated.

“We know in order to beat COVID we’ve got to get people vaccinated, and in the short run, we’ve got to wear these masks.”

99.8 percent of COVID hospitalizations in Texas are patients who are unvaccinated.

“I’m hopeful, as we’ve seen throughout this pandemic, that business will lead on vaccination,” Jenkins said. “That businesses will be able to say ‘Okay, here’s what I want to do. I want to require vaccination by a certain day; if you’re going to come to my event with 1,000 people, I want you to show me a vaccine or a negative test.’

“I think the mandates for vaccines, or the incentives or requirements for vaccines, should be led by business. Have the businesses look atwhat works for them. For instance, if you have a venue, a dress shop or a coffee shop that requires all their employees to get vaccinated, or requires vaccines for their customer base, people could vote with their feet on whether they want to go there, and if the one next door said ‘Nobody here’s vaccinated and masks are optional,’ people could vote with their feet and go there.

“But I think for government to get in the way of businesses protecting their employees and customers is something we haven’t seen.

“I think the law is pretty clear. The governor has the authority to suspend certain regulatory laws under the Texas Disaster Act. These are laws like suspending the requirement that a Louisiana nurse take a Texas exam to practice here. But nowhere in there does it say the governor has the authority to stop local response to an emergency. We feel good about that. 

“It’s not the vaccinated versus the unvaccinated.It’s not the Democrats versus the Republicans. It’s the human race versus the virus,” Jenkins said. “There’s no republican virus or democratic virus, just team human versus the virus, but the politics of this can be tricky for people who are focused solely on polls. We’re in a war against a virus, listen to the generals, that’s the CDC and the local doctors. Do what they say that will give you the very best chance of surviving and thriving in this situation.

“Instead of looking at the unvaccinated as dumb or some negative thing, we treat them like we would treat anybody on any other issue: with grace and acceptance. The most powerful thing a vaccinated person can do for an unvaccinated person is listen to their reasons why they’re unvaccinated, and tell them what made you decide to get vaccinated.

“If you want to drive on the highway, you have to go the speed limit. My personal freedom to drive 150 miles an hour ends when it endangers your life.If one person has COVID and wears a mask, the chance of transmitting is reduced by 75 percent. If both wear a mask, that number becomes 90 percent.”