By Dianne Edmondson, Precinct 4 County Commissioner
Remarkable progress has been made to contain/control the COVID-19 virus — two potent and remarkably effective vaccines are FDA approved and being mass produced; at least two more are in final trial stages with potential FDA approval; and additionally, our own Texas A&M is partnering with a bio-tech company on yet a third potential vaccine.
COVID testing is everywhere; even an at-home kit is available. More testing, predictably, reveals more cases. As a result, both cases and deaths are up astronomically nationally; even right here in Denton County which, as of Jan. 30, has reported 318 deaths from COVID within our county and 53,554 total confirmed COVID cases. So far, our county’s COVID cases have resulted in death for only .006% of those infected.
No COVID death has been reported in our county for someone under 40; most are in their 70s and 80s. You can check the county’s COVID stats on ages of deceased, locations of cases, hospital bed availability, etc. here.
As you read this, more than 20,000 people will have been vaccinated at the several Denton County Health Department clinics, which have been set up throughout the county since our registration portal opened at 3:32 p.m. on Jan. 8. Yet about 110,000 more are in the DCPH queue awaiting appointments. While many have been vaccinated or have future appointments, there still may be many who want to be vaccinated but have not yet been assigned a time/date/place. Please be patient — your time will come! There even may be some who want a vaccine but have not yet registered to be in the vaccine database. If so, please register here.
Since DCPH has been designated a Texas “hub” for the vaccines, we expect to be receiving increasingly large shipments of the vaccine as our clinics are widely recognized as being extremely efficient, professional and effective. Our “drive-through with appointments” model has made the process easy and safe both for those arriving and those staffing the clinics. If you have been following the vaccine strategies in North Texas, you will recall that other area sites did not have drive-throughs, but rather did have long lines (2-3 hours in some cases!) which were stressful and downright dangerous to seniors and others with health issues.
But Denton County was determined NOT to subject our residents to that, so we utilized a mass vaccination plan that had been developed and successfully used in the 2009 H1N1 flu epidemic. By updating it with suitable locations and staffing both with Denton County Health Department personnel and also utilizing the Reserve Medical Corps volunteers, nearly 10,000 vaccines were administered in the first four clinics. The average time from entrance to exit (including a 15-minute post shot observation period) was just under 30 minutes!
Many folks have written rave reviews about their experiences to post on various Message Boards and social media, as well as to me personally. We thank you for those kind words, and promise to those in line that eventually, you WILL get the vaccine. The manufacturers are working at warp speed to increase the supply, hoping to soon catch up with the demand. Recently, we have added another feature to our registration portal: On Fridays, registrants will be emailed with their number in line and any information available about upcoming clinics.
In the meantime, those who are awaiting the vaccines should remember that we are not safe yet — we are still in danger! We are being told that the “virus variant” is in North Texas, and is considered much more contagious. To keep yourselves and others safe, please practice the CDC guidelines: Wash hands, use sanitizer, practice social distancing, wear a mask when in public and avoid non-household gathering for now.
We have compiled a Q&A here that may be of help: www.dentoncounty.gov/1523/COVID-19-Vaccination-FAQs. To be kept current on the COVID-19 pandemic, you are welcome to subscribe to my periodic e-newsletter by contacting me: [email protected] or you may phone my office at 972-434-3960.
So, enjoy Valentine’s Day, but please stay safe as the battle against this invisible enemy continues!