Category Archives: COVID-19

Memorial Hermann Proud to be Among First in U.S. to Receive and Administer COVID-19 Vaccine to Frontline Healthcare Workers

Today (December 15), Memorial Hermann Health System received its first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and immediately began administering the vaccine to its frontline healthcare workers. The system’s very first vaccine was given to Robert Luckey, RN, who works as a nurse in Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center’s dedicated COVID Intensive Care Unit. He received the vaccine to a round of applause from his colleagues.

“We have been fighting this battle against COVID-19 since March,” said Luckey. “I’m thrilled there is now a vaccine to help protect us against this virus, and I am very grateful and proud to be among the first in the country to be able to receive it.”

The CDC recommends that healthcare workers who are most at risk of contracting COVID-19 be the first in the United States to receive the vaccinations. In addition, the state has provided guidance on who will receive the first doses of the vaccine in Texas.

“Today is truly a remarkable day full of optimism for the near future,” said David Callender, M.D., President and CEO of Memorial Hermann. “We are so thankful to be included in the first allocation of this vaccine. Together, our employees and physicians have treated more COVID-19 positive patients in our hospitals than anyone else in the Greater Houston area, and that’s something we’re extremely proud of.”

In partnership with UTHealth, the system was first in Texas to perform a double lung transplant on a patient whose lungs were severely damaged by COVID-19. In addition, Memorial Hermann and UTHealth are participating in over 30 clinical trials dedicated to COVID-19.

Memorial Hermann expects to receive 16,575 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the first allotment, more than any other health system in the Greater Houston area. Moments after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfzier COVID-19 vaccine, the health system opened up online registration for frontline employees to begin signing up to receive the vaccine, with the first available time slots going quickly.

“It’s been a stressful, exhausting 10 months, so I think I can speak for everyone when I say that it’s an honor for us to be able to offer this vaccine to the individuals who have dedicated nearly a year of their lives to caring for our community during this pandemic,” said Dr. Callender. “We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure our workforce is protected, so we can continue providing the same safe, compassionate care our patients have come to expect from us.”

After the vaccine has been distributed to essential workers and vulnerable populations identified by the state of Texas, the vaccine will be more widely available. It is uncertain exactly when this will occur – timing will depend on how quickly the Pfizer vaccine can be produced and distributed, and whether or not other vaccines, including Moderna’s candidate, are authorized quickly by the FDA. As soon as doses of the vaccine are available for widespread use, Memorial Hermann plans to make them available for its patients and members of the community.

“We’re all very hopeful that this will be the turning point we’ve been waiting for since this pandemic began. However, now is not the time to let our guard down,” Dr. Callender said. “Our fight with COVID-19 is not over yet, but at least there is finally an end in sight.”

Dr. Callender stressed that, although the vaccine is here and others are on the way, it will take months to vaccinate everyone who wants to receive it. This is why it is important to continue practicing the three “W’s”: wearing a mask, watching social distance and washing hands frequently.

To learn more about Memorial Hermann’s response and resources related to COVID-19, please visit the system’s Coronavirus Resource page. 

Planning for Vaccine Distribution: DFW Airport, American Airlines Make Dallas-Fort Worth an Ideal Gateway

As a COVID-19 vaccine inches closer to becoming available in the U.S., Dallas Fort Worth International Airport is poised to serve as a key player in the “biggest product launch” in history.

The Dallas region’s central location, transportation infrastructure, and connectivity—combined with DFW International Airport and American Airlines’ cargo network and expertise in handling time- and temperature-sensitive products—make North Texas the ideal gateway for this massive logistical effort.

Cargo and Cold Chain Infrastructure

DFW International Airport’s cargo operations serve 22 major cargo hubs throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. DFW handles 54% of air cargo from Texas, generating more than $20 billion and accounting for nearly 55% of the airport’s total annual regional economic impact.

DFW opened its cold chain facility in October 2017, enabling it to handle temperature-sensitive products ranging from fruits, flowers, and fish, to pharmaceutical and life sciences products. Since then, the airside cold chain facility experienced a 20% increase in pharma shipments.

“DFW Airport is proud to be one of just two airports in the U.S. to obtain IATA CEIV Pharma community status,” said Milton De La Paz, DFW International Airport Vice President of Airline Relations and Cargo Business Development. “DFW is also the first airport in North America to have both an IATA CEIV Pharma community and a cloud-based air cargo community system, which enables collaborative data sharing of cargo shipments across all stakeholders in the supply chain.”

Read more from Dallas Innovates…

Eviction Moratorium close to expiration: What to do now?

In late August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put in place a moratorium to help keep renters in their homes by not allowing landlords to evict people who are covered under the moratorium.

Citizens protected under the eviction freeze must be behind of their rent despite actively applying for other government housing programs in the area. Another requirement is being unable to pay full rent or make a full housing payment due to a major loss of income, layoffs, fewer work hours, or medical expenses that will most likely amount to more than 7.5 percent of the person’s adjusted gross income. Household income in 2020 may be as high as $99,000 or $198,000 for tax returns filed jointly.

If accepted, they will be given a certificate to present to the landlord.

Unfortunately, this moratorium is scheduled to end on December 31, 2020, leaving those sheltered under this program worried about where they will live. The CDC can extend or shorten the date on which the moratorium will expire.

However, there are some City and County resources that are available now and will continue to accept new clients after the moratorium expires.

The City of Irving Rental, Mortgage, and Homelessness Assistance is provided under the umbrella of the Community and Development Department. In order to apply, the applicant and his or her family must live in the City of Irving and be able to provide proof of residence, information about family members living at the residence, proof of income and a valid form of identification, such as a Texas driver’s license, passport or birth certificate that proves that the head of household is a U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident.

In addition, the applicant must provide birth certificates for all minor children and documentation of hardship due to COVID-19. For assistance with rent, a copy of the current lease or a late or eviction notice must be submitted. For mortgage assistance, a copy of the most recent mortgage statement is required.

If the applicant is homeless, the Homelessness Assistance Form available on the City website must be filled out.

For more information on any of these programs, visit CityOfIrving.org.

However, this program is not full of sunshine and roses according to Pat O’Reilly, Board President of Many Helping Hands in Irving, who also works on the Homelessness Task Force.

“Me, Shelia Slade [from Many Helping Hands], and Steve [Allen, Pastor of Christ Church in Irving] and about 15 other people are on the Homelessness Task Force. We met last night, and Steve, who is in contact with Austin Street, said there’s just no way to prepare for the evictions that are happening, if they do go through.

“I just got an email from a friend of mine who is a writer for the Dallas Morning News and he just sent me a letter from the City of Dallas saying that they’re now going to allow “tent cities.” To me, that’s the least somebody needs to do.

“The letter spells out that they’re going to provide bathrooms and hand washing facilities. We provide portable showers in Irving every Tuesday, and that will continue. But we’re talking about [potentially] thousands of people.

“According to City Council, we have 45 people that are homeless on the streets. We know there are more than 150 people living on the streets. According to [the meeting] last night, we’re actually looking at number jumping up to 400 – 500 people.

“The City has continued to turn their back on the homeless community, basically saying that Irving doesn’t have homeless, so we don’t care. I attended a City Council meeting where one member said, ‘If we provide more services, then we will have more [homeless] people.’ Our comeback was, ‘They’re already here.’

“The City of Denton is light years ahead of us. When COVID hit, they provided hand washing stations wherever the homeless were. So, we went and petitioned for Irving to do that and we fought for it and finally got one. It was up for about two months and then somebody stole it, and the City declared they weren’t going to do anything else.

“The City gets all kinds of federal funds to help the homeless. If they don’t use those funds, that money can go to Parks and Recreation. So, they improve a park in South Irving and tell the government that they’re helping the poor.

“We need five councilmen to be pro-homeless, and right now, we have four.”

If the Moratorium does expire on December 31, three to four times the number of the current homeless population is expected to influx each local city.

The Task Force is looking toward corporations with a heart for the homeless to sponsor/donate to the cause, as donations is what they need to “keep the doors open.”

Corporations that may be interested in supporting the Homeless Task Force can email Steve Allen at steve@ccirving.com or call 682-583-3302; Dennis Webb at webbdennis7@gmail.com or 972-849-9421; or Ruby Sevcik (Executive Director at Crisis Ministries) at rubys13@hotmail.com or 972-891-8783.

Thank you in advance for having a heart for the homeless. They are still human beings, and we all know how COVID has affected jobs, income and health, both for tenants AND landlords.

Governor Abbott Announces Initial COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution For Month Of December

Governor Greg Abbott announced yesterday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made an initial allotment of over 1.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to the State of Texas for the month of December. These vaccines, which should begin arriving in Texas the week of December 14th, will be distributed to qualifying providers across the state who will administer these immunizations based on the Vaccine Distribution Principles developed by the state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel. Additional allotments may be made later this month for December. Also, increased allotments are expected in January and the following months

“The State of Texas is already prepared for the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine, and will swiftly distribute these vaccines to Texans who voluntarily choose to be immunized,” said Governor Abbott. “As we await the first shipment of these vaccines, we will work with communities to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

Our ‘Non-Traditional’ Thanksgiving

2020 has delivered one of the most non-traditional Thanksgivings that I have ever experienced.

Please don’t think I am complaining; I am fully aware of how some folks didn’t get to celebrate at all for a multitude of reasons. Plus, this isn’t really a complaint per se. It just adds to the strangeness of this year.

If you’ve been following me (THANK YOU!), you will already know that two close family members have been in the hospital with COVID for about 2 weeks. It’s tough to be celebratory when you don’t know what the next few days/weeks will bring for their health. I think worst of all is that we are helpless to do anything that may assist them. We can’t visit; speaking to them on the phone is nearly impossible because of all the machines and texts are sparse.

So, going into the holidays has been just weird. I see commercials saying, “SALE! SPEND YOUR MONEY!” and sometimes it angers me. How dare someone throw a sales pitch at me when people are sick? But, back on Earth, I realize this type of advertisement is typical for this time of year and has been aired since Lord-knows-when.

Hubby and I didn’t feel like messing with a big dinner for just the two of us. We looked around on the Internet to see what food sources were open on Thanksgiving, and then settled on Chinese food. So, our celebration was chicken fried rice, salmon with veggies and binge watching Absentia.

I know many people have “non-traditional” dinners, with the “traditional” being turkey and sides and pumpkin pie, and I am not trying to judge anyone. It was just different for me.

Do you and your family eat “non-traditional” meals on Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear about the different family traditions around the country. If you so desire, leave your comments below.

COVID and learning how to make iPhone fonts larger or smaller

That’s kind of a weird mix, isn’t it? It reminds me of when my dad and I used to try to come up with some company that sold two completely different products, like “Bob’s Glovebox Light Repair and Cold-Fusion Rocket Company.”

As for the COVUD, hubby and I weren’t exposed and are feeling fine. My close relatives that are dealing with this live about an hour and a half from me, and it has been a while since I have seen them. But then there are so many feelings that accompany things like this. For us, the main one is helplessness.

Because they are COVID patients, we can’t visit. And it’s tough to talk with them because they are on a bunch of machines, so we text and wait for responses for when they are up to it. That’s frustrating in itself because when we don’t hear back soon, a million reasons cross my mind, even though, logically, I’m sure a doctor, nurse or just plain old sleep may be the true situation. They are the first close-to-me folks to get the virus, but it just gave me the “realness” of it all and how COVID symptoms are so different sometimes.

One of them has been through cancer, so she was already more susceptible than many other people. Her hubby loved to go out and see people and do things before this happened; plus, he’s in is 80s. But it seems he’s doing better than she is (my theory is because he hasn’t been through cancer). I know down deep in my heart that they will both be OK, but that doesn’t stop the worrying (and I am NOT blaming anyone for this – it could’ve been anyone or anything).

Last night, we got a text asking how to make text messages, etc. fonts larger. As we can’t really communicate over the phone, hubby and I came up with a short video to illustrate how she, or someone else in her room, could do this.

So, if you’re not sure how to do this for yourself and you have an iPhone follow these steps:

  • Wake up your phone
  • Go to Settings
  • Scroll down and go to Display & Brightness
  • Scroll down and go to Text Size
  • Use the slider at the bottom to set your text size

Y’all stay healthy out there. Wear your masks (and gloves if you desire). It sounds like we’re about to get back into quarantine mode. Woo hoo.

First-time Texas voters: Here’s what to expect

Ahead of the Nov. 3 general election, which experts said may garner one of the highest voter turnout rates of any election in recent years, many Texans will likely be voting for the first time this fall.

While the actual voting method can vary based on the polling location and type of election, voters in Texas can expect the in-person voting process to follow the same basic steps.

According to VoteTexas.gov, upon arrival at the polling location, the voter will be asked to present one of the seven acceptable forms of photo identification unless the voter has a permanent exemption on the voter’s registration certificate.

Read more from Community Impact…

Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo canceled due to COVID-19

Originally set to take place Jan. 15-Feb. 6, the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo will not be held in 2021.

Members of FWSSR executive committee voted Oct. 6 to cancel next year’s show after consulting with infectious disease experts and public health professionals. According to an organizational release, the stock show and rodeo draws more than 1.2 million guests annually and would create a high risk for further community spread of COVID-19.

“This is a heartbreaking decision for our leadership and was not made lightly,” FWSSR President Brad Barnes said in the release.

Read more from Community Impact…

Neighborhood Medical Center to offer free drive-thru COVID-19 testing in Frisco

A new option for free drive-thru COVID-19 testing will be available over the next few Sundays in Frisco.

Neighborhood Medical Center is offering free testing for those with or without insurance. The insured will be required to present an insurance card. Those without insurance will need to provide a state identification to allow Neighborhood Medical Center to submit for federal reimbursement for the test.

Both rapid antigen testing and polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, testing will be offered from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 20, Sept. 27 and Oct. 4 at M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi, School of Islamic Sufism, 8455 Stonebrook Parkway, Frisco.

Read more from Community Impact…

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott: Retail stores, restaurants, office buildings, gyms can reopen at 75% capacity as early as Sept. 21

“Data from the state’s 22 hospital regions will dictate the rate at which Texas reopens its retail stores, restaurants, office buildings and gyms, among other businesses,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said during a Sept. 17 press conference.

“[COVID-19] hasn’t suddenly disappeared in Texas,” Abbott said during the press conference, “but we are now armed with the personal safety standard and some medical advancements that can ensure we can continue to tame [COVID-19] until more treatments and vaccines become available.”

“Relying most heavily on hospitalization data will help distinguish the severity of the coronavirus pandemic between regions of Texas, since not all parts of the state are being impacted the same way by COVID-19,” Abbott said Sept. 17.

Read more from Community Impact…