We have come a long way this past year together in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic – from the early days of grappling with the unknown to where we are today distributing COVID-19 vaccinations to all adults who want one.
Currently, our COVID-19 cases are dropping to September levels, our hospitals are returning to handling normal procedures, and our businesses are bustling.
However, we do know there remains a need to help support our economy, non-profits, residents, businesses, and more — as everyone has been affected by this year-long crisis.
With the $147 million CARES funds from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, we were able to provide:
- $38.9 million in more than 2,400 grants to Denton County businesses
- More than 35,000 boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables to feed the hungry
- 20,000 in turkeys, hams, and chickens to provide protein
- $6.5 million-plus for rental assistance, helping 4,242 households with rent, mortgage, and utilities
- Providing millions of dollars to our communities to help them with COVID-19 costs
- 122,593 first doses and 51,799-second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine through an ongoing efficient process
In the third week of March, we rolled out the Consolidated Appropriations Act Emergency Rental Assistance program to provide $23 million to assist families earning 50% to 80% average median incomes with rent, utilities, and other ancillary costs. Through the CAA ERA program, landlords and tenants work together to apply for all rent in arrears through March 2020 as well as a potential rent coverage up to three months ahead if the need is demonstrated. This program will help our landlords and property owners become whole and, in turn, our banking system as well. Of course, the real effect is keeping people in their homes without a big rent bill hanging over their heads.
We are currently in talks about the American Rescue Plan and the $172 million earmarked for Denton County. As we plan, we’re talking with groups around the county as well as looking long-term to see where these funds can do the most good.
In the last week of March, we held four vaccine clinics at Texas Motor Speedway, inviting more than 50,000 individuals to receive shots. By the first week in April, we began vaccinating individuals who registered on our Vaccine Interest Portal after Gov. Abbott opened access to the vaccine to all adults. In fact, Denton County opened its portal to all adults the very same day the state made the announcement. On March 26, we had a total of 447,825 individuals on our waitlist with only 51,842 remaining to be scheduled for appointments. We’ve been able to vaccinate individuals within weeks, if not sooner, after they sign up.
We anticipate continuing vaccination clinics at Texas Motor Speedway for the next few weeks, continuing a 16-lane process that has garnered national attention, even with the White House, which requested footage of our process before setting up their federal drive-through clinics across the country.
We also worked with several partners, Denton County Transportation Authority, and Span Inc., to provide transportation for individuals who do not have access to a vehicle or need specialized assistance to get to the Texas Motor Speedway. Individuals can call 940-243-0077, and arrangements will be made either by riding a bus at one of two locations in Denton and Carrollton or through a SPAN bus or through a volunteer with our local Rotary Clubs. Both have played a huge role in volunteering.
In fact, we’ve had more than 4,400 volunteers serve more than 26,400 hours to help us with the vaccination clinics. That alone shows how Denton County comes together in times of need to get things done.