Don’t wait any longer to get your COVID-19 vaccine in Dallas

The following was adapted from my email newsletter.

Hopefully, you’ve already had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

But if you haven’t, it’s your turn. Don’t wait any longer.

The vaccine supply, which for so long had been far outpaced by demand, is no longer an issue. If you want a vaccine, you can get one easily. The city is working through changes in our strategy because the demand for vaccines has fallen quickly. More than 46% of eligible people (age 16 and older) in Dallas County have already received at least one dose, according to the state. That’s good, but it needs to be better.

If you are on the fence, you shouldn’t fret about whether the vaccines are safe. More than 200 million vaccine doses have gone into the arms of Americans. And so far, other than a day or two of side effects such as sore arms, fatigue, and chills, the only negative effects have been extremely rare. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was paused because of a handful of cases of blood clots out of 6.8 million doses — a reflection of how seriously federal authorities are taking safety concerns about the vaccines. And on Friday, after reviewing the cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that health providers resume distribution of those shots.

Compare the potential risks of the vaccine to contracting COVID-19, which has taken the lives of nearly 10,000 people in Dallas, Tarrant, Kaufman, Rockwall, Denton, Collin, Ellis, and Johnson counties. That’s just in this area. About 570,000 Americans in total have died of the virus, which is also ravaging India right now.

Getting one of the vaccines is a no-brainer. They are safe and very effective. They will help bring an end to this pandemic so everyone can get back to normalcy without needing to fear this destructive, awful virus that will continue to mutate as long as it continues to spread.

Dallas has a lot of important work ahead in the next few years, and to truly focus on those major challenges, the city must be able to move on from the pandemic. And you have the power to help.

You can get vaccine appointments at various providers throughout the area. The Potter’s House and Fair Park will be open again this week, and you’ll start seeing neighborhood-focused events pop up more frequently in the coming weeks. For example, on Friday, Project Unity is distributing Moderna shots in Oak Cliff.

Pick a time to get your vaccine at Fair Park or The Potter’s House here. And click here to get a shot from Project Unity on Friday.

Stopping the violence

Beyond the pandemic, public safety remains the city’s top priority — and its biggest concern.

Aggravated assaults and murders continue to outpace last year’s high numbers. Dallas must turn those numbers around by committing to reducing crime in a smart way.

The police department is a key part of that effort. Police Chief Eddie Garcia’s violent crime reduction plan will be briefed to the City Council very soon. But the community also must be part of the solution. And City Hall must provide the resources for police to succeed (yes, that means not foolishly cutting police overtime for no good reason while the police department is shrinking during a violent crime spike) and also facilitate solutions that don’t involve law enforcement at all.

Deploying violence interrupters is one such strategy that has proven effective in other cities. Violence interrupters are people within a community who are trained to help resolve conflicts before they turn violent. That means safer neighborhoods, fewer victims, and less strain on police resources that are stretched thin these days.

This program, recommended by the Task Force on Safe Communities, is overdue and much-needed. If successful, the program can help turn those crime numbers around.

The Dallas City Council will vote Wednesday to approve a contract with Youth Advocate Programs to hire violence interrupters in Dallas communities. The City Council meeting is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Wednesday. You can tune in here.

‘Seay the Future’

Recently, I recorded a podcast with George Seay, a nationally recognized speaker, civic leader, and financial industry CEO.

Among other topics, I talked with him about my childhood and career path, the city’s public safety needs, the tiresome grip of partisan politics, and why the American Dream is still alive.

It was a fun hour-long conversation, and hopefully, you will enjoy listening to it. The podcast, titled “Seay the Future,” is now available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. You can also listen to the episode here.

Austin Street Center

Ending this email on a hopeful note: I helped break ground last week on the Austin Street Center’s new 60,000-square foot facility.

As one of the city’s largest low-barrier shelters, Austin Street Center is here for people in their time of need. They don’t just provide help; they give people hope.

The new building will be more just than a shelter or a services center. It will be a home. It will be a home for people in need — a home that will help Shelter Ministries of Dallas fulfill its mission of holding people’s lives together and giving them new opportunities to find stability, independence, employment, and permanent housing.

The center’s mission represents the spirit of this great city. Dallas is an inclusive and welcoming place that allows people to pursue their dreams. But it’s also a city of second chances — a city of rebuilding and renewal.

With all the challenges Dallas is facing, the city needs community partners such as Austin Street Center more than ever. And God willing, the workers there will do such a good job helping people, they will run themselves out of business and won’t be able to fill up the new building.

That’s all for today. Remember that Tuesday is the last day of in-person early voting and Saturday is Election Day. And please stay safe, mask up, and get vaccinated!

Have a great week.

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