Local News

Leading Off (8/14/20)

It's the hottest part of the year, so far. Settle in.

Dallas County Has Recorded Over 800 COVID Deaths. It’s currently the county’s third leading cause of death, behind cancer and heart disease. If things continue as they have been, County Judge Clay Jenkins warned it’ll be our second leading cause of death in the next month. Yesterday, we recorded 641 cases and 13 deaths. The county’s reproduction rate—known as the R-naught—is at .87, which represents how many people with COVID are transferring the virus to others. That means if 100 people have it, you can expect they’ll give it to 87 others. Six days ago it was at .68. Jenkins pleaded with residents to get tested; our positivity rate is at 16 percent—the state’s is at 24 percent—which tells the experts that our testing volume is insufficient. Ideally, that number would be around 5 percent.

‘Excessive Heat’ Is Here. Hm. Seems subjective, as it’s been an oven for weeks now. But heat index values will top, oh, 110 in the coming afternoons. Stay hydrated, be aware, and get your walks in early.

We’re Getting an Idea of Lawmakers’ Ideas of Police Reform. Yesterday, the Texas Legislative Black Caucus unveiled the George Floyd Act, which the lawmakers say will be filed this coming session. It calls for a statewide end to qualified immunity; requires officers to intervene if they see a colleague engaging in excessive force; limits when use of force is appropriate; requires de-escalation before any use of force; transitions minor offenses into tickets only instead of a trip to jail; pairs an officer’s testimony in court with evidence; and institutes a standard disciplinary matrix. Many of these are in place piecemeal across the state—you’ll recall Chief U. Reneé Hall instituted a few after the killing of George Floyd—but this would require departments to institute such policies across the board. Locally, Democratic state Sen. Royce West is among those leading the charge. Meanwhile, the Austin City Council lopped off $150 million from its police department and immediately redirected $21 million into social services programs. Gov. Greg Abbott responded by vowing to send in state troopers. When state troopers were sent to Dallas, they spent most of their time pulling people over. They made 12,000 traffic stops in seven weeks in South Dallas. I am curious to see what their strategy is to, as Abbott says, “stand in the gap to protect our capitol city.”

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