As thousands of local residents scramble in search of a COVID-19 vaccination, questions have been more abundant than answers. Here’s what we know about getting vaccinated.
Those included in Phase 1B of the Texas vaccination plan are now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations from health providers. Phase 1B, as defined by the state, includes anyone over the age of 65 and those over 16 who are pregnant or have a chronic medical condition such as cancer or heart disease. Vaccines are available at no charge regardless of insurance status, though supply is limited.
Each week, the Texas Department of State Health Services provides a list of health providers allocated vaccine shipments at dshs.texas.gov/news/updates.shtm. By finding the latest week’s allocation list and scrolling down to Denton, all vaccine recipients in Denton County will be listed by their city. The state had not yet provided a list for this week — Week 4 — by Monday evening.
A map is also available from the Texas Department of State Health Services, which shows where registered vaccine providers are in the county and state.
According to the allocation lists, the city of Denton has eight vaccine providers this week: Denton County Public Health, MD Family Clinic, Texas Woman’s University, Medical City Denton, Horizon Medical Center and three Kroger Pharmacy locations.
There are also reports of area nursing homes administering the vaccine, though specifics have not been reported through the state. Many in the Denton area are part of larger systems that are distributing the vaccine across the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
All of those providers can be viewed on the state’s map except the three Kroger pharmacies, meaning they may have yet to receive their Week 3 allocations. A news release from Dec. 22 states Kroger is planning to provide the vaccine nationwide, but no other information is available on the company’s website. Many providers, such as Denton County Public Health, have used up their allocations and are expecting more shipments in the future.
As of Friday, here are providers that were allocated vaccines in Denton and where they stand:
Due to limited supply, setting up an appointment can be difficult and is often done by phone. Many providers allocated vaccines have not provided guidance on exactly how to register. Officials have maintained that contacting providers directly is the best way to receive information on eligibility and vaccine availability.
Future plans for the state’s vaccine timeline are not clear, as the next groups, 1C and 2, are still “under consideration,” according to the state’s vaccine information site. According to the timeline, those groups will not start being vaccinated until the state reaches the second phase of vaccine production.
The state was still in the first stage, known as “limited supply,” Monday evening.
Most people will need two doses of the vaccine that are spaced either 21 or 28 days apart, and full protection from the virus will typically come one to two weeks after the second shot is received — but wearing a mask and social distancing are still recommended.
Following weeks in which Denton County commissioners either didn’t meet or held condensed meetings, Denton County Public Health Director Matt Richardson is scheduled Tuesday to give his first COVID-19 presentation since Dec. 8.
The coronavirus has continued to spread since Richardson’s last appearance, with the county reporting nearly 13,000 active cases as of Saturday afternoon. However, much of his discussion likely will focus on the pressing issue of vaccinations, which started rolling out to the Phase 1B group last week.
A specific point of concern for commissioners at Friday’s brief meeting was the registration system for DCPH’s upcoming vaccine clinic, which was held Monday morning. The department had 450 doses of Moderna’s vaccine available and had residents call to register via phone on Wednesday.
Registration filled up within hours, with DCPH receiving hundreds of comments from potential recipients, with many saying they were frustrated with the phone-based system and called dozens of times, some without getting through. On Friday, County Judge Andy Eads called the setup a “system failure,” and commissioners approved the purchase of a new registration system.
The system will cost $271,000 for its first year and $186,000 each subsequent year. Developed by a partnership of Microsoft and Mazik Global, the new system will allow DCPH to place residents on a vaccine waitlist and notify residents by text or email when shots are available, curbing some of the confusion brought about by the phone system, which left many people unable to contact anyone at the department for more information.
Eads said Friday that county officials would work over the weekend to get the system operational as soon as possible, and an update on that progress will likely be provided at Tuesday morning’s meeting.
Richardson is also likely to address the ongoing issue of hospital ICU occupancy, which has remained above 90%, coming in at 90.5% Monday afternoon as DCPH reported 95 beds occupied and 10 available.
A 44-year-old Lake Dallas man was booked into the Denton County Jail on Sunday morning, accused of killing his brother, local authorities said Monday.
A news release from the Lake Dallas Police Department said the department is investigating a homicide after officers from Lake Dallas and the Hickory Creek Police Department responded to a shooting call around 6:30 a.m. Sunday.
Officers arrived at the Lakeshore Apartments at 300 E. Swisher Road and found 47-year-old Eugene Gheorge Mateiu dead. They took one person into custody at the scene, according to the report.
Lt. Mark Stone with the Criminal Investigations Division at the Lake Dallas Police Department said they charged James Odin Matei with murder in the death of his older brother.
Stone said Matei has changed his name a couple of times, including dropping the letter U in Mateiu, which he said is the last name listed on his identification.
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s public portal shows Eugene Mateiu died due to a gunshot wound to the face around 6:35 a.m. and ruled his death a homicide.
James Odin Matei was booked into the Denton County Jail on Sunday, and booking records Monday morning showed the suspect’s name listed as Ovidiu Mateiu. He was still in jail Monday afternoon in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Stone said both brothers lived at the Lake Dallas apartment but declined to say if anyone else was inside the home, citing the ongoing investigation.
Eugene Mateiu’s death is the first homicide investigation in Lake Dallas since Dec. 2, 2019, when Barry DeGeorge of Normangee allegedly shot and killed Zachary Johnson, a tow truck driver, as he and a co-worker were repossessing a Nissan.
An announcement hearing for DeGeorge had been reset several times in 2020, much like other cases as the COVID-19 pandemic pushed pause on jury trials. Denton County court records show an announcement hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 27.