Category Archives: COVID-19

VERIFY: Yes, FEMA will pay funeral expenses for people who died from COVID-19

By Matt Gregory

Hundreds of thousands of American families have been forced to grieve through the pandemic. Does the government have plans to step in to help with funeral costs?

QUESTION:

Is FEMA paying funeral expenses for people who died from COVID-19?

ANSWER:

There is a plan to pay for funerals and reimburse funerals that already took place.

“FEMA, through their individual assistance program has the ability to pay for funeral expenses,” Elizabeth Zimmerman, the former FEMA associate administrator for the Office of Response and Recovery, said.

According to Zimmerman, FEMA can pay for funerals after a president declares a disaster.

“Typically, funeral expenses are covered on a cost-share basis,” she said. “So, FEMA would pay 75%, and the states would be responsible for 25%.”

RELATED: FEMA will help cover some funeral costs for COVID victims. Here’s what you need to apply

Former President Trump already declared the pandemic a disaster in 2020. But it wasn’t until this week, Congress gave FEMA $2 billion to pay for funerals.

“This new policy, and the authorities that Congress gave to FEMA, in order to pay 100% of the cost for the funeral expenses,” she said.

Read more from WUSA9…

142 Houstonians tested positive for COVID-19 after getting vaccine

The Houston Health Department says dozens of people have tested positive for COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated.

That means they were infected with the virus more than two weeks after getting either two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Doctors refer to those cases as breakthrough infections or vaccine failures. 

Dr. David Persse with the Houston Health Department says breakthrough infections happen with all vaccines but there’s no cause for alarm.

“It’s not a surprise at all that we would see a small number of people test positive after being vaccinated. Our back of the napkin math would have been a little higher than this,” said Dr. Persse.

Read more from KHOU…

List Of Sites In Tarrant County To Register For COVID-19 Vaccine

With the State of Texas now mandating that COVID-19 vaccines be open to all adults, Tarrant County is hosting events to help register residents. 

Anyone can also register online here. 

Here’s a list of registration events: 

  • March 25: Tarrant County College South Campus: 5301 Campus Dr., Fort Worth, Tx. 76119 (3-7 p.m.) 
  • March 31: Tarrant County Charles F. Griffin Subcourthouse: 3500 Miller Ave., Fort Worth, Tx. 76119 (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) 
  • April 10: Texas Wesleyan University: 1201 Wesleyan St., Fort Worth, Tx. 76105 (11 a.m.- 2 p.m.) 
  • April 12: Samaria Baptist Church: 4000 E. Berry St., Fort Worth, Tx. 76105 (3 -7 p.m.) 
  • April 15, 17: Tarrant County College Trinity River Campus East: 245 E. Belknap St., Fort Worth, Tx. 76102 (3-7 p.m. April 15 and 11 a.m.-3 pm. on April 17.) 
  • April 19: Como First Missionary Baptist Church: 5228 Goodman Ave., Fort Worth, Tx. 76107 (3-7 p.m.) 
  • April 24: Los Pastores Panaderia: 3812 E. Rosedale St., Fort Worth, Tx. 76105 (11 a.m.-2 p.m.) 
  • April 26: Great Commission Baptist Church: 7700 McCart Ave., Fort Worth, Tx., 76133 (3-7 p.m.) 
  • May 3: Baker Chapel AME: 1050 E. Humbolt St., Fort Worth, Tx. 76104 (3-7 p.m.) 
  • May 8: Fiesta Supermarket: 4245 E. Berry St., Fort Worth, Tx. 76105 (time pending) 
  • May 10: First St. John Cathedral: 2401 E. Berry St., Fort Worth, Tx. 76105 (3-7 p.m.) 
  • May 15: El Rancho Supermercado: 4812 South Freeway, Fort Worth, Tx. 76115 (time pending)

Source: CBSDFW via News Break

Every Adult in Texas Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine Beginning March 29

The State of Texas is opening up the coronavirus vaccine to all adults before the end of March, officials just announced.

All adults will be eligible to get the vaccine starting next Monday — that’s March 29th.

Some age groups will still be prioritized, however.

“DSHS has directed vaccine providers to prioritize people 80 years old or older when scheduling appointments and accommodate anyone in that age group who presents for vaccination, whether or not they have an appointment, by immediately moving them to the front of the line. “

Get more details in the state’s official release below and check back for updates.

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DSHS directs providers to continue to prioritize older adults

All adults will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Texas beginning Monday, March 29. The Texas Department of State Health Services expects vaccine supplies to increase next week, and providers in multiple parts of the state have made great strides in vaccinating people in the current priority groups. The state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel recommended opening vaccination to everyone who falls under the current Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorizations to protect as many Texans as possible.

“We are closing in on 10 million doses administered in Texas, and we want to keep up the momentum as the vaccine supply increases,” said Imelda Garcia, DSHS associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious disease services and the chair of the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel. “As eligibility opens up, we are asking providers to continue to prioritize people who are the most at risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death – such as older adults.”

DSHS has directed vaccine providers to prioritize people 80 years old or older when scheduling appointments and accommodate anyone in that age group who presents for vaccination, whether or not they have an appointment, by immediately moving them to the front of the line. That will ensure vaccination of anyone 80 or older with as small a burden on themselves as possible.

Also next week, DSHS will launch a website to allow people to register for a shot through some public health providers. The public will be able to enroll in the Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler to identify upcoming vaccine clinics hosted by DSHS or a participating local health department and be notified when new clinics and appointments become available. People can continue to find additional providers though the DSHS Vaccine Information page at dshs.texas.gov/covidvaccine. 

Online registration will be the best option for most people. For those for whom that is not an option, DSHS will launch a toll-free number to provide assistance making an appointment with a participating provider or locating another provider that has vaccine available.

To date, Texas has administered more than 9.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, equating to more than 6 million people with at least one dose and more than 3 million fully vaccinated. Most vaccines are authorized for people 18 years old and older; the FDA has authorized the Pfizer vaccine for use in people 16 and older.

Source: KHOU Houston

Tarrant County will continue to require masks on county property

On Tuesday March 9, the Tarrant County commissioners agreed to continue to require face coverings in county buildings.

This order applies to the county’s administration buildings, courts, jails and offices. County employees and visitors will be required to wear a face covering, despite Governor Abbott’s lifting of the state’s mask mandate, which is effective today, March 10.

For the commissioners, keeping masks mandatory is a way to continue to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Before Abbott lifted the statewide mandate, the court gave County Judge Glen Whitley the power to extend the county’s order until at least May 25, as it believed the threat of COVID-19 was active and mask wearing was the best way to control it. 

County administrator G.K. Maenius said that while the county can’t fine or jail people for not wearing a mask, if a large number of people enter county buildings without masks, commissioners would look at how they can better enforce mask-wearing.

Read more from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

DART Continues to Enforce Federal Face Mask Requirement on Public Transit

For the safety of our passengers and employees, DART will continue to enforce federal guidelines and require a CDC approved face mask be worn over the mouth and nose by passengers and operators at all times while on DART vehicles or properties including buses, trains and paratransit vehicles, Trinity Railway Express trains, at DART stations, on platforms, in buildings and on-board the Dallas Streetcar.

Refusing to wear a mask, unless exempted or excluded under the CDC guidelines, is a violation of federal law and failure to comply will result in denial of boarding or removal, and passengers may be subject to federal penalties.

Face masks and hand sanitizer dispensers are installed on all buses, light rail vehicles and Dallas streetcars and will continue to be available to all passengers. If a DART passenger is concerned with someone not wearing a mask, they can contact DART Customer Service at (214) 979-1111, or use the “DART Say Something” app, which can be downloaded from the Apple Store or Google Play for free.

Staying Safe While Riding DART

DART remains committed to doing everything possible to keep both our patrons and employees safe through this pandemic. DART remains in close contact with local, state and national health authorities, including the Texas Department of State Health Services and the CDC. DART encourages passengers who feel sick or are experiencing symptoms to stay home and avoid public places.

Face Masks and Hand Sanitizer

DART requires a CDC approved face mask be worn over the mouth and nose by passengers and operators at all times while riding DART buses, trains and paratransit vehicles, Trinity Railway Express trains, at DART stations, on platforms, in buildings and on-board the Dallas Streetcar. Face masks and hand sanitizer dispensers are installed on all buses, light rail vehicles and Dallas streetcars for use by passengers.

Cleaning and Protection

DART continues to undertake aggressive agency-wide cleaning and safety protocols on buses, light rail, paratransit vehicles and properties. In addition to thorough nightly cleanings, DART vehicles receive additional cleanings at the eight terminus stations throughout the day. Red and Blue Line trains are cleaned every 60 minutes. Orange and Green Line trains are cleaned every 90 minutes. DART buses and trains are also cleaned on a rotating basis with hydrogen peroxide-based cleaning solutions to sanitize and disinfect each vehicle.

Almost 85% of the DART bus fleet is currently equipped with an air purification and disinfection technology system (either ultraviolet or ionic) to kill viruses as air is recirculated throughout the bus.

DART Operator Safety Shields

DART has installed respiratory droplet shields throughout the bus fleet to help protect operators and passengers. Designed by DART Engineering, in collaboration with Fleet Maintenance & Bus Operations teams, these operator safety shields are made of high-impact plexiglass and are installed between the operator and passengers to enhance social distancing.

Social Distancing

DART recommends maintaining a six-foot distance between both fellow riders and your DART operator, leaving an open seat between yourself and other riders when available, avoiding large groups and staying home if you feel sick or are experiencing symptoms.

To enforce social distancing practices and protect customer and employee well-being, all transit center waiting areas have been temporarily closed. DART riders can still use the outdoor areas for boarding buses and light rail vehicles.

You can find more information about how DART is working to keep our passengers safe at www.dart.org/health.

Editor’s Corner: The COVID mandates are being lifted; How are you going to handle it?

I must admit, I was a bit aghast when I heard that Texas Governor Greg Abbott was putting an end to the mandate he put in place about 8 months ago to wear masks, and he plans to re-open 100% of the state, come March 10.

Recent reports say that to-date, the COVID virus has caused over 42,000 deaths in Texas alone. Unfortunately, I got a close-up view as to what this virus can do, as complications of COVID took both of my in-laws last December. I realize that the number of COVID cases and deaths have dropped significantly in the past few months, aloing with the number of hospitalizations resulting from the virus.

I also know that the mask mandate was hardly enforced in my area (Dallas/Fort Worth) and much of Texas as a whole, depending on the person and the business. Most businesses let customers in without masks. Why give up sales that may have been few and far between just because a customer is not wearing a mask? Because it’s been proven to slow down the spread of COVID – that’s why!

Abbott’s plan will also take away the restrictions on the number of patrons that businesses are allowed to serve in their indoor dining rooms.

Abbott said that even though restrictions will be removed, it is still up to each person to be responsible about their precautions against COVID spread. I understand that, but I know there will be many people who will be more than happy to throw their masks away.

This is like a mentally ill person who says they feel better and stops taking their medications. The illness comes back pretty quickly, and the person may have done things that they wouldn’t do while medicated, or things that led that person to seek help in the first place.

It sounds like a case of, “Monkey See, Monkey Do,” as governors from other states have already eased up on mandates that were in place to help prevent the spread of COVID. As of today (March 3), California and New York are the only states that have reported more deaths from COVID than Texas.

Many health experts are expressing their concerns about lifting mask mandates. The winter storm had many people sheltering together, whether it be with family, friends or in warming stations. Basically, these are the places where COVID is spread the most easily if no prophylactic measures are taken.

These experts also predict a rise in COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths if most people stop wearing masks, whether they have received a vaccine or not.

Abbott had the statewide mask mandate put into place in July 2020, during a surge in COVID cases. But with less-than-ideal enforcement (some members of sheriff departments refused to enforce the mandate at all), the pandemic dragged on and the numbers climbed. Abbott even said at one point that quarantines don’t work.

In Austin, the mandates caused tension between Abbott and the Republican party, which is his own party. There was even a protest outside of the governor’s residence. At the same time, Abbott was getting flak from the mayors of some of the largest cities in Texas, claiming that he needed to do more.

Now, in 2021, while COVID numbers are falling, there are still cities that haven’t found much relief.

The City of Laredo, which major demographic is Latino, has experienced higher numbers of outbreaks than other large Texas cities. They have been running out of beds in ICUs as recently as January. Laredo is an important international trade hub and has been one of the top Texas cities to lay down the law about the mandates. Leaders in Laredo are getting concerned about what results the removal of the restrictions will have.

The lifting of the rules is going to happen. There’s nothing I can personally do about it except use common sense, keep wearing my mask, using social distancing and washing my hands a lot. Do I enjoy doing this? No, not really. But it’s WAY better than contracting COVID.

Stay safe healthy out there!

DART to Provide Transportation for Methodist Vaccine Event

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) will provide transportation for the Methodist Hospital COVID-19 vaccination event in Dallas on Thursday and Friday, February 4 and 5, 2021.

Over the course of the 2-day COVID-19 vaccination event at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, a joint effort between the City of Dallas and Methodist Health System, 3,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed to individuals in Group 1B (individuals 65 years and older and individuals with comorbidities) between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

DART will provide 7 staffed buses for the vaccination event, transporting individuals with verified appointments from remote parking lots to the vaccine location and back to their vehicles.

Appointments are mandatory to receive a vaccine and names are being pulled from the Dallas County registration list. Click here to register for the vaccine online. People can also call the county’s new registration hotline that launched Thursday at 1-855-466-8639

Read more from WFAA…

If you don’t live in Dallas County, click HERE to find out where vaccination sites are operating, or to register for the vaccine at a site near you.

Super Bowl Watch Party Guidelines Issued by the CDC for Safety During Pandemic

Super Bowl LV is going to air this Sunday, Feb. 7 in a showdown between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Many families and groups of friends have traditions to watch the big game together; however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said this may not be the safest choice for watching this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, they have published some guidelines to keep folks as safe as possible if they do plan on going ahead with their “usual” plans:

  • Host a Super Bowl virtual watch party. You can wear the team colors and jerseys. Just set up a Zoom or other online conference call to watch live with your family and friends. You can also text each other during the game.
  • Have an outdoor viewing party. Just stay six feet apart from each other and show the game on a projector screen.
  • In the case of a large party, call the party location to make sure they are taking steps to prevent the spread of the virus and abide by the rules set by the venue.
  • Arrive early to avoid crowding and congestion.
  • Don’t use the restrooms during high-traffic times like halftime.
  • Try not to cheer and chant. Stomp, clap and use hand-held noisemakers instead.
  • Limiting alcohol consumption and use touchless payment methods when available.
  • It doesn’t matter which venue, or whether it is inside or outside, the CDC reminds everyone to wear masks over the nose and mouth when in a group of people with whom you don’t live.
  • Avoid any direct contact. That means no handshakes, hugs, or even high-fives with people outside of the household.
  • Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, masks or mouth.

For more recommendations, click HERE.

Enjoy the game and may YOUR team win!

Tarrant County Updates COVID Vaccine Website Functionality

Tarrant County Public Health has released some new features on their COVID-19 vaccination sign up site.

People who have signed up can now get more information about their status using the Registration ID number that was included in the email/text/phone call that was received during sign-up.

Status checks can be accessed by clicking on the information request button on the registration page for Tarrant County.

An example of the following information that can be obtained from that request is provided below:

  • Date Registered
  • First Clinic Appointment (if assigned, otherwise it will be blank)
  • The phone number we will contact you at for your appointment
  • Eligibility Status

Only persons over age 18 are being considered at this time. The current interval between registration and appointment may be 3 to 4 weeks, unless citizens fall into a priority group. The site will also allow you to cancel your registration if you have already found another vaccine provider.

Click HERE to access registration site for TARRANT COUNTY or call 817-248-6299. Residents of other counties can get more information by visiting their county website.