A Daily Conversation About Dallas


How Many Children in Your Kid’s Class (Probably) Have COVID-19?

| 28 mins ago

Among a group of 25 people with low immunity, there is a 44 percent chance that one of those individuals has COVID-19 in Dallas County. In Tarrant County, that number is 50 percent. Balloon that room’s occupancy to 100 people and there is a 90 percent chance at least one person has COVID-19 in Dallas County and 93 percent in Tarrant County.

For parents thinking about their unvaccinated children spending time in 25-person classes and cafeterias with over 100, these numbers from a UT Southwestern community briefing are cause for worry. Every cough, sniffle, or fever is now treated with the utmost caution, and sending them to school is also putting them in harm’s way. While COVID-19 doesn’t impact children at the rates it does adults, the delta variant has pushed children’s hospitals to capacity throughout the summer.

Masking and testing can help, though many districts are locked in legal limbo with the state government regarding whether they can require it for their students and staff. UTSW modeling says that after about three months in school with low immunity levels without masking or testing, 91 percent of the students will be infected with the virus. With testing, that number goes down to 79 percent, and masking will mean just 49 percent will be infected in three months. If both are present, just 22 percent of children will be infected by that time. In schools where most students are under 12, there are low levels of immunity. A school with high levels of immunity, masking, and testing can keep infections as low as 13 percent, according to the UTSW models.

The good news? The vaccines are inching closer to being available to younger patients. The Pfizer and Moderna versions have been given Emergency Use Approval for children as young as 12, and there are trials underway for patients aged 5 to 11, 2 to 5, and six months to 2. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will soon receive full approval from the FDA for patients as young as 18, and there are trials underway for patients as young as 12. 

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These Puppies in a Basket Will Make Your Heart Melt

| 3 hours ago

I’ll pull the curtain back a bit. We’ve all got quotas around here for FrontBurner posts. It can be oppressive. If we don’t hit our numbers, Christine Allison makes us scrape gum off sidewalks in Highland Park. The hard part about that is finding gum on sidewalks in Highland Park. Also, we have to do wall sits. The good thing about that is Zac has killer quads. I wish he’d wear shorts more often.

Where was I? Oh yeah! Operation Kindness sent over some pics of some puppies, along with the following words: “Operation Kindness took in Mary Lou, a pregnant bulldog, to care for while waiting for the birth of her puppies. The leading lifesaving shelter in North Texas decided to give her a maternity photoshoot to pamper her, alongside medicated baths to spoil her rotten. Then, soon after she gave birth, it made total sense to do a newborn photoshoot to show off her adorable puppies.”

Share this post! Here are some pics of Mary Lou and her litter.

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Local News

The Future of Hensley Field Is Beginning to Take Shape—Maybe

| 3 hours ago

Dallas wants to turn hundreds of acres of mostly unused land at the far western edge of the city into a major mixed-use development. One roadblock to remaking Hensley Field—and there’s more than one—is the toxic chemicals.

When the U.S. Navy handed the former air station to the city more than two decades ago, the feds hadn’t finished cleaning up the site. They’re still studying possible contamination from per- and polyfluroalkyl substances, or PFAS, left behind by firefighting foam.

But consultants developing a master plan for Hensley Field have said that continued cleanup won’t impede development, and on Tuesday they showed off their early recommendations for the site to a City Council committee. Those include:

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Local News

Leading Off (9/22/21)

| 6 hours ago

Dallas Police Officer Believed to Have Fabricated Evidence During Motel Search. A warrant has been issued for one Dallas police officer and six officers have been placed on administrative leave after review of body cam footage from a motel search in December. The officers are believed to have illegally entered a room and planted evidence, which led to a 3-year sentence of a man for illegal possession of a firearm.

Dallas County Employees Get Their Raise. The pay increase was rejected by the Commissioners Court last week, but they revisited the topic yesterday and approved a 3.3 percent raise in a split vote. The sticking point was whether or not to include elected officials in the across the board salary increases.

Plano ISD Votes Against Extending Mask Requirements. The school board narrowly rejected a motion that would have extended the mask requirement through October 8. The mask rule expires this week.

First Legal Action Under New Abortion Law Intends to Challenge Its Legality. Two out-of-state attorneys filed complaints against a San Antonio physician who wrote a Washington Post op-ed in which he admitted to performing an abortion on a woman who was more than six-weeks pregnant. They say they want to force a swift judicial review of the new law.

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Local News

Fake Fall Is Here And Cannot Be Trusted

| 22 hours ago

It happens every year: A cold front pops up in mid September, and eager journalists write their love letters to the arrival of Texas Fall. Love letters that will be torn up and torched in a few days time, when we’re right back where we started again in 90-degree temps.

Why do you let September do this to you every year? Every year, you’re like, “Oh, September is so good to me. Brings me pumpkin spice lattes and Mrs. Meyers apple cider hand soap. You should see how September treats me when you’re not around.”

And then, we have to pick up the pieces the next afternoon, you sweating in your acorn sweater and crying, “I have a mantle full of decorative gourds, it smells like Autumn Leaves Yankee candle in here, but I had to put the dang A/C on full blast because it’s 95 flipping degrees outside again! AH HATE YOU, SEPTEMBER!”

When pressed on the issue of the existence Fake Fall, WFAA’s Chief Meteorologist Pete Delkus claims, “It’s not fake fall, but it’s a taste of fall. I feel confident that the gates of hell have closed, and we are most likely done with the triple digit heat. Doesn’t mean we won’t have more days in the 90s.”

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Real Estate

Oak Cliff ‘Party House’ Makes Zillow Gone Wild

| 1 day ago

Shout-out to Zillow Gone Wild for bringing us another gem of a Dallas real estate listing. Check out this 5,200-square-footer just south of Loop 12 near UNT Dallas. Yours for $450,000.

The last time a Dallas listing caught the eye of Zillow Gone Wild, it was for a mysterious Far North Dallas compound whose purpose was unclear. This Oak Cliff home is occasionally bewildering, but it’s easier to see how it might be used.

“This is known as the party house,” says Robert Moseley, showing off his party house in a video tour. Moseley is also the owner of Bob’s Prop Shop, a builder of replica movie cars, according to his YouTube page.

The shop was previously based in Dallas and is now in Las Vegas, a city where every home has purple carpeting, a built-in stripper pole, indoor hot tubs, and a karaoke stage. In Dallas, though, this still counts as extraordinary. That full video tour is after the jump.

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We’re Officially Flirting With Fall: What To Know About This Cold Front

| 1 day ago

Monday saw temperatures bring near record highs for the day—it doesn’t often get up into triple digits that late in September, especially not 102 or 103 degrees. But that heat foretold the first hint of fall.

According to the National Weather Service, what we saw on Monday is known as “compressional warming.” We had strong southwestern winds from West Texas come into town, compressing as it pushed downward, causing higher temperatures due to the friction of the system meeting cooler air closer to the ground.

The cold front began this morning with a denser blast of air pushing out the hotter, higher-pressure system. That cooler air will settle in for the next few days, plunging temperatures as much as 30 degrees below what they were on Monday. By the time you wake up Wednesday, the NWS believes temperatures will be in the 50s.

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Local News

Leading Off (9/21/21)

| 1 day ago

COVID Update. Hospitalizations in Dallas County are still high but appear to have plateaued. The average number of new daily cases in the county for the last two-week period is 1,390; for the previous two-week period, it was 1,222. Encourage your friends to get vaccinated.

Rowlett Bar Doesn’t Dig Masks. Hang Time Sports Grill & Bar owner Tom Blackmer has gotten a lot of attention for his no-mask policy. This DMN story reports that a couple was recently told to remove their masks, which their pediatrician recommend they wear because they have a baby with CF. I agree with Blackmer. This shouldn’t be a big deal. Find another sports grill and bar.

More Cops in Deep Ellum. In response to the recent violent crime in the entertainment district (particularly the shooting Sunday that left one person dead and five injured), Chief Eddie García said his department will “take Deep Ellum back.” Part of that effort will include a more visible police presence. (Presumably the folks at Bullzerk are already at work on t-shirts that say “take Celina back” and “take Dalworthington Gardens back” and so forth.)

Cop Watchdog Calls for More Transparency. Tonya McClary is the head of the Office of Community Police Oversight. She says the department didn’t inform her when it cleared a cop in an investigation into a pepper ball shooting of a protestor. McClary will propose new rules about keeping her office and the public informed.

Stay off 635. They’re working on the highway. Here’s where and when lanes will be closed.

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Betty Sitton, R.I.P.

| 2 days ago

Betty Sitton taught Chemistry II my senior year of high school. This was 1988 at Cistercian Prep, in Irving. The course was a real challenge, one that I was not equal to, at least not on Mrs. Sitton’s terms.

Memory is a funny thing, but as I recall, the trouble started somewhere around electron probability clouds. Trying to explain the concept, Mrs. Sitton, a deeply religious, patient woman, compared electrons to the Holy Trinity. Something about not being able to directly measure it but knowing, nonetheless, that it existed. I forget exactly. More than 30 years have elapsed (!). But she brought religion into a science class, and I took that as an invitation to abandon the formal study of chemistry and occupy my mind while in Mrs. Sitton’s class with more worthy matters. I was not alone.

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Food and Drink

Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que Makes the World a Happier Place, One Fried Reese’s at a Time

| 2 days ago

Juan and Brent Reaves, owners of Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que, can’t get on an elevator without someone saying something. “If I get onto an elevator right now,” Juan explains, “and other people get on, too, there’s gonna be a guy that’s like, ‘I know this sounds weird, but you really smell great.’ We’ve gotta figure out how to make this a cologne.”

It’s a typical comment from any good pitmaster. The smell of the smoker follows you, for better or worse. And in the case of the Reaves brothers, it’s clearly for the better. There’s a line of avid regulars trailing out the door of Smokey John’s at 11:15 a.m. on a Wednesday.

But that line wasn’t always there. There was a time, just after the Reaves brothers lost their mother, when the restaurant was hemorrhaging money. “We were losing like $8,000 a month. My mind was blown,” Brent says. They had to do something. Fast.

“I started going out into the neighborhood passing out coupons. I’d take $50 out of the register and go make copies of the menu on orange paper. I would walk every morning and pass out flyers to every building, every person– everywhere.”

Brent remembers, “And one lady, this older lady, she took a menu and she says,” Brent puts on his best high-pitched nice-old-lady voice, “‘Oh! Y’all have a little barbecue place down the street!’”

“I said, ‘Yes, ma’am!’ And she goes,” (Brent mimics the lady taking the paper and shoving it up against her own nose, sniffing it like a kid with a scratch-and-sniff sticker. She’s disappointed.) “‘It doesn’t smell like anything!’”

He laughs. “I was like, ‘What do you want it to smell like?’ And she’s like, ‘Well, I don’t know—you’re selling barbecue!’”

He went right back to the restaurant, took another $50 out of the register to make a new set of copies. Only this time, “I put them in the smoker overnight,” Brent says with bright eyes.

“So, the next morning, I came back out and I hit all the same places all over again. And about 11:15, all these people start coming in the door with this flyer. Catering started coming in like crazy.”

Smoker-scented menus FTW.

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Listen to the Call of that Crazy SMU Win Over Louisiana Tech

| 2 days ago

In Leading Off today, Zac mentioned SMU’s wondrous win over Louisiana Tech and Rich Phillips’ ecstatic play-by-play call, which he said sounds like “a toddler reacting to a magic trick” if you took that same spirit and put it in a grizzly bear. But what exactly does that sound like? Let your ears tell you. (P.S., that’s Scott Garner in the booth with with Phillips, sounding like he’s having a stroke and an orgasm at the same time.)

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How Today’s COVID Data Informs Tomorrow’s Public Health Measures

| 2 days ago

The battle against the COVID-19 virus steals the headlines, but another war is being waged under the surface. Data analytics professionals and public health officials are constantly fighting to stay ahead of the massive amounts of data generated by the pandemic. In Dallas, the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation leads that effort and develops lessons for future pandemics.

Over the last several months, PCCI has predicted and readjusted its predictions for when North Texas would reach “herd immunity,” defined as when a certain percentage of a population is protected against the virus either through vaccination or post-infection antibodies. Like so much of the medical and scientific world over the last couple of years, the unprecedented nature of the pandemic means that what is a best practice one day becomes obsolete the next. But in a peer-reviewed study published in the New England Journal of Medicine‘s media outlet Catalyst, experts from PCCI help us understand why the virus is acting the way it is and what we can learn from it in the future.

The study is called “Rethinking Herd Immunity: Managing the Covid-19 Pandemic in a Dynamic Biological and Behavioral Environment” and helps explain why Dallas is experiencing new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations at a rate as high as ever. Despite predicting reaching herd immunity earlier in the summer, PCCI has moved the date back and increased the percentage required to reach the barometer from 80 percent to 95 percent. Societal immunity is a moving target because of the dynamic nature of four factors: infection-related immunity, vaccine-related immunity, the opportunity of the virus, and the infectiousness of the virus.

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