Downtown Dallas in 2018.

Credit: Callie Richmond for The Texas Tribune

Texas Children's Hospital requires vaccinations for employees

Aug. 11, 2021 at 3:22 p.m.

Texas Children’s Hospital will require employees to get the Covid-19 vaccine, joining a handful of other major Texas hospitals with vaccination requirements for staff.

“By taking this step, we are further protecting the health of our team members, patients and community,” president and CEO Mark A. Wallace said Wednesday. “As one of the nation’s largest and top-rated children’s hospitals, it is our responsibility to take a stand and protect those who place their trust in us, many of whom are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine.”

The Houston hospital will require employees, medical staff and contractors to receive their first vaccine dose by Sept. 21 and their second dose by Oct. 19 if they are receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The hospital said exemptions will be “permitted for certain religious beliefs or medical conditions.”

In June, more than 150 employees at Houston Methodist resigned or were fired after they refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine after the hospital required it; a judge dismissed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the hospital’s policy.

An increasing number of hospital systems are following suit: According to The Houston Chronicle, Baylor College of Medicine and Memorial Hermann are also implementing vaccination requirements for employees. Methodist Health System and Baylor Scott & White Health have also required vaccinations, The Dallas Morning News reported. — Allyson Waller

Dallas County judge mandates masks as coronavirus infections soar

Aug. 11, 2021 at 2:57 p.m.

Mask-wearing is now required in Dallas public schools and businesses after Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins on Wednesday became the latest local official to defy Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on local mask orders.

“We are all team public health and the enemy is the virus,” Jenkins said. “Right now, the enemy is winning.”

The move comes a day after a state district judge in Dallas temporarily blocked Abbott’s ability to enforce his executive order prohibiting cities, counties and school districts from requiring residents to wear masks.

Officials in San Antonio and Bexar County won a similar legal battle Tuesday — and quickly ordered school districts to require mask-wearing in schools. Joshua Fechter

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UT-San Antonio moves most classes online for beginning of semester

Aug. 11, 2021 at 2:57 p.m.

The University of Texas at San Antonio announced Wednesday that it is shifting most of its classes online for the first three weeks of the semester, the largest university in the state to largely reverse course from its plan to fully reopen in-person as COVID-19 cases soar across Texas.

According to a statement on its website, UT-San Antonio officials said they made the change due to the delta variant of the virus already widely spreading ahead of the Labor Day holiday in early September. The university is also implementing a mandatory testing requirement for the entire university community, with details to be announced soon.

On-campus housing and other areas of the university will remain open, but in-person events will be limited to 50 people or fewer or less than 50% of a venue capacity. Campus dining will have modified hours of operation.

The announcement comes one day after a Bexar County judge issued a temporary restraining order allowing a mask mandate in public schools there. But UT-San Antonio officials said that order does not apply to a state institution such as the university.

The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston have both allowed faculty to reduce density within their in-person classes for the first two weeks of the semester with the requirement that students have at least one in-person experience per week in each course. Kate McGee

Number of COVID-19 patients increasing faster than at any point in the pandemic

Aug. 11, 2021 at 2:54 p.m.

The number of Texans hospitalized with COVID-19 is increasing quicker than at any other point of the pandemic. Hospital officials say upwards of 95% of COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated, and they will soon be overwhelmed by the caseload. Dozens of hospitals are out of ICU beds as they struggle with historically low staffing levels and staff burnout. Gov. Greg Abbott has asked hospitals to delay nonessential procedures.

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Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin, University of Texas at San Antonio, Baylor Scott & White Health, the Institute for Economic Development – UTSA, and the University of Houston have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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