With Denton County’s COVID-19 vaccine waitlist down to mere hundreds, Public Health Director Matt Richardson made his message clear at Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting: Now is the time to get vaccinated.
Using Denton County Public Health’s online vaccine tracker, Richardson briefed commissioners on the county’s progress through the waitlist. As of Monday morning, the department had essentially invited through its entire waitlist, with 501,080 forms received and invitations sent out through spot No. 501,057.
At the time of Tuesday morning’s meeting, Richardson said the waitlist had grown by about 230 people, all of whom will be invited to the Friday clinic at Texas Motor Speedway — the final first-dose clinic the department will hold at the speedway. People can sign up now to get a vaccine Friday.
"Truly, it’s time to be vaccinated," Richardson said. "We are down to the wire. … If you’re interested in a vaccine, it’s time to sign up."
The department is planning for Friday to be the last clinic held at Texas Motor Speedway that will offer first doses of the vaccine, although Richardson said second-dose clinics will continue at the site until mid-May.
Through Monday, DCPH had administered 189,744 first doses and 135,904 second doses.
As of Tuesday, 39.4% of Denton County residents 16 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine and 28.7% have been fully vaccinated, according to the Texas Health and Human Service’s vaccine dashboard.
So what are the next steps in the department’s vaccine rollout? Richardson said there has been a homebound designation added to its waitlist so that people who can’t physically get out to a clinic can still receive their shot in coordination with the county’s emergency services. Since being implemented last week, just under 50 people have registered.
Richardson added the department is now working to coordinate vaccinations for county residents without homes, though details are not exact. For the rest of the general population, DCPH will be switching its focus to smaller clinics after it finishes up at Texas Motor Speedway.
"We’re also working on the smaller clinics as we wind down our hub efforts," Richardson said. "We will be at Texas Motor Speedway [through] mid-May and then we will be redirecting our efforts to smaller clinics, geographically associated with vulnerable populations all across the county."
Richardson made it clear, however, that the county’s operations at the speedway are the most efficient way for it to administer vaccines in large quantity. He urged anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated, or who knows someone who hasn’t been, to add themselves to Friday’s final round of first doses.
"We really want a big, big push at Texas Motor Speedway," Richardson said. "Because we’ve worked through the waitlist, it is time to now move directly into communities and look for those vulnerable populations."
Also during Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting, local activist Willie Hudspeth spoke during the public input section, addressing last week’s announcement that the Confederate monument will be relocated to the Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum after its removal from the courthouse lawn last year.
Hudspeth, who advocated for the statue’s removal for over 20 years, told commissioners he doesn’t believe they’re providing enough context for the statue, leaving out the history of minorities.
"Why don’t we have something set up to address that history itself and the rest of the information associated with it?" Hudspeth said. "What about the African American history? … The Native Americans, nothing. The Hispanic population, nothing. But yet, you want to spend taxpayer dollars to place that statue where you’re placing it."