Michael Wood, Manager, Education & Workforce

During a virtual town hall on Wednesday, April 1, Senator Royce West highlighted new statewide resources for North Texas childcare providers to sustain operations and provide crucial services for essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

Senator West was joined by Reagan Miller, Director of Child Care and Early Learning for the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), and Laurie Larrea, President & CEO of Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas.

The most notable resource is the Frontline Child Care Portal, a new statewide platform that connects workers in essential industries with licensed childcare providers with open spots. The portal sources real-time data from childcare providers and allows essential workers to identify programs with openings near their home or work through a ZIP code search.

To further ensure essential workers have access to childcare, TWC has extended special eligibility for Texas’ subsidized childcare program, enabling participation if parents self-attest to current employment in an essential industry and report household income at or below 150% of the state median income.

However, many providers in the state’s subsidy system have closed their doors due to declining enrollment. To prevent further and potentially permanent closures, TWC has committed $40 million statewide to temporarily fund subsidy providers, regardless of their operational status, at their enrollment levels before the outbreak. These funds will also cover costs associated with enrolling children of essential workers.

Still, TWC and local workforce boards encourage essential workers to keep their children at home or with neighbors or relatives, if possible. Otherwise, these new resources will ensure that neither cost nor availability is a barrier to accessing safe childcare for essential workers and offer much-needed financial stability to childcare providers during this uncertain time.

Gloria Salinas, Managing Director, Economic Development

Weathering a crisis means being a part of the solution. That’s the foundation of Dallas-based Borden Dairy’s business model.

Alba Sanchez (right) and her children pick up their free breakfast and lunch that was delivered on Monday March 23, 2020, in Austin, Texas. (Photo: Jay Janner, American-Statesman/ USA TODAY Network)

Founded in 1856, just before the American Civil War, Borden has a long history and tradition of serving up creative solutions during times of crisis. The dairy processor and distributor supplied milk to the Union Army during the Civil War and, during World War II, the company’s mascot Elsie the Cow sold $10 million in U.S. war bonds to help the government finance the war.

Today, Dallas is home to the company’s headquarters, two office locations, a manufacturing plant, and a major distribution center – totaling more than 600 employees throughout the region.

“We are experienced at pivoting in the face of challenge,” said Borden Dairy CEO Tony Sarsam. “We take a people-first approach to everything we do, and we take pride in being a valued community partner.”

As the sudden impact of COVID-19 began closing many schools and businesses across the country, Borden started losing many of its product delivery routes. The closure of schools, restaurants, and cruise ships combined equals about one-third of the company’s business.

“Like everyone, the sudden impact of COVID-19 created a massive challenge for us. Our manufacturing plants shifted instantly by producing significantly less single-serve products and more gallons,” Sarsam said. “We redeployed most [store and school delivery] drivers to do Meals on Wheels, community service deliveries, and/or filling in employment gaps in our warehouses. We are working feverishly to get the remainder of that team back to work full-time.”

Meanwhile, the YMCA Metropolitan of Dallas was searching for a solution to provide quality childcare for essential workers who work in multiple counties across the region and have children in several school districts across the region.

Curt Hazelbaker, President and CEO of YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, said the organization has always changed and adapted to meet the needs of the community, and the pandemic created a need for quality childcare and programming for children of essential workers who were required to be away during the day.

The YMCA opened its Emergency Child Care Program a week before Dallas County’s shelter-in-place mandate took effect. The program provides a structured and safe learning environment at seven Dallas-area YMCAs from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Children of essential workers, including first responders, medical professionals, government officials, grocery, and retail supply chain employees, receive a structured daily schedule from the program that covers health and hygiene, STEAM projects, physical activities, nutrition education, and a virtual learning component for children who need assistance completing online school work.

The program was approved by Dallas County and follows a safe one leader per every nine children, with six-foot distancing at all times. Children receive lunch and two snacks per day at the YMCA. Borden’s weekly delivery of donated milk and juices to the program allow every child to have an apple and orange juice twice a day at snack time.

“Although our physical locations are temporarily closed, the Y continues to support and provide for our community in its time of need with emergency childcare for those serving on the front lines,” Hazelbaker said. “We thank Borden Dairy for partnering with us and helping provide children in our care the nourishment they need throughout the day.”

Children in the Coppell YMCA Emergency Child Care program enjoy snack time provided by Borden Dairy. Photographer: Colleen McCauley, Coppell YMCA.

Borden is delivering weekly servings of about 2,200 milks and juices to Dallas Region YMCA locations. Nationwide, the company has donated about 588,000 servings of products to nonprofits and schools that are offering drive-through options for free meal programs. While the company is providing product to nonprofits and schools, it has shifted most of its production and delivery to meet the demand of grocery stores.

In addition to supporting communities, Borden is donating one gallon of milk to its employees every week, relaxing its attendance policy to ensure employees stay healthy during the pandemic, and utilizing a reward program to recognize employees for the essential work they do to keep grocery stores stocked.

“Our team has stepped up, as always, to meet this challenge head on with creative solutions, teamwork, a passion to win, and a servant’s heart,” Sarsam said.

The DRC is calling attention to our region’s business community serving as a force for good. Do you know a business the DRC should highlight? Share a story about a business that is doing good with Milton Grays at mgrays@dallaschamber.org.

For more information and to register, visit the YMCA Emergency Child Care Program website.

YMCA Emergency Child Care Locations

As of April 1

Coppell YMCA

  • Address: 146 Town Center Blvd., Coppell 75019
  • Phone: 972-393-5121

Grand Prairie YMCA

  • Address: 4556 S. Carrier Pkwy., Grand Prairie 75052
  • Phone: 972-642-9632

McKinney YMCA

  • Address: 300 Ridge Road, McKinney 75072
  • Phone: 972-529-2559

**Park South YMCA (Fair Park)

  • Address: 2500 Romine Ave., Dallas 75215
  • Phone: 214-421-5301

Plano YMCA

  • Address: 3300 McDermott, Plano 75025
  • Phone: 214-705-9459

Richardson YMCA

  • Address: 821 Custer Road, Richardson 75080
  • Phone: 972-231-3424

Semones YMCA (NW Dallas)

  • Address: 4332 Northaven Road, Dallas 75229
  • Phone: 214-357-8431

Boone Pickens YMCA (Downtown Dallas)

  • Address: 601 N. Akard Street, Dallas 75201
  • Phone: 214- 954-0500

**Park South YMCA (Fair Park) provides a virtual learning program and serves as a food distribution site for the surrounding local community.

Brittany Lebling, Director of Communications, Southwestern Medical Foundation

Southwestern Medical Foundation is a public charitable corporation and registered 501(c)(3) organization established in 1939 to inspire and advance progress in medicine. The Foundation connects the vision of donors with highly innovative programs and serves as a sustainable funding source for leading-edge research, medical education, and patient care.

We are reminded in times such as these of the elegance of philanthropy in our country. It comes in sizes large and small, from places one doesn’t expect, and it moves with speed and agility to step into gaps and solve problems we face in ingenious ways. We are witnessing such a time of nimble, solutions-driven leadership as COVID-19 comes to the Dallas Region.

“As we have throughout our history, the Foundation’s philanthropic community leaders are working side-by-side its medical leaders to meet the health care needs and challenges our community will face,” said Kathleen M. Gibson, President and CEO of the Southwest Medical Foundation. “It is through this partnership that our leaders have ensured our extraordinary progress in medicine. And, it is through this partnership that our leaders will ensure the progress we seek today.”

COVID-19 Response Fund in Support of UT Southwestern

Southwestern Medical Foundation established a COVID-19 Response Fund, which directly benefits UT Southwestern Medical Center’s efforts.

As the situation rapidly evolves, UT Southwestern is prepared to care for large volumes of patients with the virus and is increasing internal testing capabilities to meet growing demand. The medical center is also participating in clinical trials in order to bring the latest COVID-19 treatments to patients.

Additionally, UT Southwestern has ongoing research efforts in order to define understanding of the mechanisms and structure of this new coronavirus. Research will inform how UT Southwestern can monitor the virus, intervene, and ultimately improve its approach to prevention.

To learn more about the response fund, please visit swmedical.org/covid19. Those looking to make donations of personal protection equipment (PPE) should contact the Office of Development & Alumni Relations at UT Southwestern at giving@utsouthwestern.edu or 214.648.8988.

Spreading Joy Not Germs

In addition to sharing regular updates on our social media channels, the Foundation recently launched a social media campaign that asks the community to share messages of gratitude and inspiration to frontline medical workers. You can participate by completing the following:

  1. Make a post on TwitterLinkedInFacebook, or Instagram using the hashtags #heartofhealthcare and #SWMFCares. Feel free to get creative – photos, illustrations, videos, and Instagram stories are all welcome.

OR

  1. Send an email with a message, photo, video, scanned letter/drawing.

Sharing Credible Resources

Like many in our community, the Foundation curated and regularly updates a resource page to keep its donors and partners well-informed. You can visit this resource-rich page at swmedical.org/coronavirus.

Dave Moore, Staff Writer

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s March 31 executive order regarding behavior and activities permitted during the COVID-19 outbreak has helped introduce consistent rules across Texas and the Dallas Region.

Shortly after Gov. Abbott issued Executive Order GA-14, Collin County Judge Chris Hill rescinded his executive order, which had previously declared all businesses in the county as essential.

GA-14 – which went into effect at 12:01 a.m. April 2 – defines non-essential services as:

  • Cosmetology Salons
  • Gyms
  • Massage Establishments
  • Tattoo Studios
  • Piercing Studios
  • Eating/Drinking Inside of Bars/Restaurants/Food Courts

The order says religious services are considered “essential,” but only if they can’t be conducted online, and only if they can be conducted following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines (maintaining proper social distancing, sanitation, etc.).

During a March 31 press conference, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said he’s secured the support from several churches with web-streaming capabilities, and they have agreed to broadcast the services of any congregation in the county.

“Here in Dallas County… every faith in Dallas County will have (web) access through remote services,” he said.

Essential services, according to the order, include jobs and work essential to maintaining critical and essential services to ensure the continuity of critical functions protecting the public health and safety. Abbott’s order cites a March 28 federal Homeland Security department document that defines essential as work necessary to sustain the nation’s emergency services, food and agriculture system, water supply, critical manufacturing, and other categories.

Dave Moore, Staff Writer

Now is the time for companies to put people – not profits – first, in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s the takeaway from a survey taken by the global public relations and marketing firm Edelman, which held an exclusive virtual town hall with the Dallas Regional Chamber on Tuesday, March 31. The Edelman Special Report on COVID-19 is an extension of the firm’s annual Trust Barometer. The survey – taken between March 6-10 – asked 10,000 individuals across 10 different countries questions regarding which sources of information they trust, how they view the private and public sector in times of crisis, and what they would like to see from them.

“We know from this research, and dealing every day with clients, that brands must be brave enough to join the fight,” said Cydney Roach, Global Chair, Employee Experience at Edelman. “People want brands to help solve problems, to protect employees and their partners. And they want brands to get very creative on how to use their products to help.”

Respondents told Edelman that on no uncertain terms: “Focus on solutions for this crisis. Do not sell to me, as you do generally. It’s not relevant at this time.”

Roach and Edelman Southwest General Manager Jorge Ortega walked through survey data that indicates respondents have come to distrust traditional media outlets and government over time, while trusting their employers and private sector more.

Roach said that sets the stage for companies to focus on their organizational purpose, to serve their customers and the public in an empathetic manner, and to avoid the appearance of exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One of my clients is a fintech company, so they are in finance and they are a technology company,” she said. “Their purpose is to democratize finances for everyone. They are really digging deep to look at how they are applying that principle to questions of employee impacts. How they are going to support some of their partners and their vendors?”

By demonstrating empathy toward employees and clients during the pandemic, companies will build goodwill and trust (referred to as “trust equity”) into the future, Roach said.

Roach urged business leaders to read a letter to shareholders from BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, who wrote that it’s in all companies’ interest to act with sustainability in mind, focusing on long-term goals. She also encouraged the audience to read Jamil Zaki’s “The War For Kindness” to learn more about practicing empathy.

During the town hall, DRC President and CEO Dale Petroskey cited Toyota Motor North America as a local company whose organizational mission is geared toward public service. Toyota has helped advise Parkland Hospital in improving efficiency in both day-to-day operations, and in administering coronavirus tests.

“They’re an example of a company doing it right, all the time,” Petroskey said. “Not just when the crisis occurs. But before the crisis, during the crisis, and… after the crisis, too.”

Dave Moore, Staff Writer
Michael Wood, Manager, Education & Workforce

In the same vein as car manufacturers and clothing makers producing ventilators and protective medical face masks, the Dallas Regional Chamber has expanded its Say Yes to Dallas talent attraction site to assist workers displaced by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Click to enlarge.

The “Connecting Displaced Workers to Jobs” platform lives on the DRC’s Say Yes to Dallas talent attraction campaign page and includes listings broken down by sector, including hospitals, pharmacies, grocery stores, food service, and warehouses.

“Many of our hard-working neighbors find themselves out of work through no fault of their own,” said Dale Petroskey, DRC President and CEO. “The DRC is doing all we can to help by connecting them to thousands of job opportunities and other resources so they can quickly get back on their feet.”

The site offers links to help displaced workers who need:

  • leads for in-demand jobs;
  • access to online courses to upskill into high-demand, well-paying jobs;
  • childcare resources for parents involved in essential work; and
  • links to help workers to file for unemployment claims.

The site uses an autonomous web scraper to identify job openings in the Dallas-Fort Worth Region.

“Many of these full-time and part-time jobs have been posted following the increase of COVID-19 cases in our region,” said Drexell Owusu, Senior Vice President of Education and Workforce for the DRC. “Based on our preliminary analysis, there is significant need among essential employers in the Dallas Region, and we want to make sure the displaced can find their way to these paying roles as quickly as possible.”

Job opportunities include shelf stockers at grocers, nurses, business-development specialists, and delivery drivers, and will be updated regularly in partnership with Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas. The Say Yes site continues to function as a resource for companies or individuals seeking to relocate to the Dallas Region.

As part of a broader initiative to assist displaced workers, the DRC is also partnering with Uber Works to better fill the emerging workforce gap for hourly and shift workers. Uber Works, which launched earlier this month in Dallas, connects shift workers looking for temporary employment opportunities in general labor, customer service, production, and commercial cleaning with participating employers.

“Uber Works is pleased to partner with the DRC to help displaced workers find access to earning opportunities,” said Andrey Liscovich, CEO of Uber Works. “In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever that businesses on the front lines, including grocery stores and other distribution centers, are able to connect to the workforce and support the increased demand for essential goods.”

Employers and workers who wish to learn more about how to post openings or seek positions should contact workforce@dallaschamber.org.

Michael Wood, Manager, Education & Workforce

Of all the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps none have been felt more widely by North Texans than the sweeping closures of schools.

While parents and students deal with the inconveniences and changes associated with these closures, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) is working diligently to minimize disruptions and ensure continuity of learning for the 5.4 million public school students in Texas.

The Dallas Regional Chamber discussed the challenges facing Texas public schools with Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath as part of its Virtual Town Hall series on the COVID-19 crisis. TEA’s foremost priority has been providing technical and operational assistance to school districts across the state to support their rapid transition to remote learning.

The shift to online instruction has presented a substantial challenge, says Morath, but districts are rising to the task. School districts statewide have identified innovative solutions to meet the needs of their students, such as setting up mobile Wi-Fi hotspots and creating meal distribution centers.

Yet, Morath worries that existing achievement gaps are being exacerbated as students transition to remote learning. Gaps in student achievement will be difficult to quantify as the state waived end-of-year assessment requirements, such as the STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) – a key diagnostic tool to measure student proficiency. For that reason, Morath is prioritizing efforts to equip districts with effective measures to assess student progress remotely so that districts can intervene appropriately when students return to traditional school settings.

As for when students will return to ‘normal’ school, Morath says it is unclear. While it is possible some districts return to in-person operations before summer, others may be closed for the remainder of the academic school year. Still, TEA is planning for the eventual return to normalcy and is considering options to adjust curriculum or the school year to address academic gaps that may arise as a result of time away from the classroom.

In the meantime, TEA is permitting districts to use their closed facilities to provide emergency childcare for the children of health care workers.

Morath expressed confidence in North Texas school districts to provide strong support to students throughout the closures, but he also encouraged patience and compassion as we all confront this unprecedented challenge together.

Michael Wood, Manager, Education & Workforce

Foundations in the Dallas Region are breaking from traditional practices to support vulnerable residents and nonprofit organizations impacted by the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

A Social Venture Partners webinar, featuring panelists from Communities Foundation of Texas, the Dallas Foundation, Texas Women’s Foundation, and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, highlighted the rapid and innovative philanthropic response to COVID-19.

As we move deeper into uncharted territory, funders are electing to trust the expertise of their nonprofit partners and provide unrestricted grants to enable flexible response to urgent needs in the community. The pandemic’s severe impact on the economy has also surfaced the importance of providing reserve funding for nonprofit partners to sustain critical operations.  Both of these strategies – previously rare among the philanthropic community – have enabled community organizations to respond quickly to emerging demands in the region.

The panelists also highlighted their expanded role in advocacy, stressing to political leaders the critical role of nonprofits in providing emergency relief to their communities, and lobbying for the inclusion of nonprofit organizations in the federal relief packages.

To learn about the specific priorities of each organization, please see below. To watch a recording of the conversation, please visit Social Venture Partners’ website.

Communities Foundation of Texas

Communities Foundation of Texas is focused on ensuring employee comfort and mental health, so that team members can dedicate energy to developing funding priorities, and realigning and resetting goals to support nonprofit partners in the community.

Dallas Foundation

The Dallas Foundation has made all 2019 giving unrestricted so that previous gifts may be retooled to address urgent needs. The Dallas Foundation has also mobilized $1.75 million to sustain nonprofit operations, build capacity, and encourage self-care of nonprofit partners.

Texas Women’s Foundation

Texas Women’s Foundation is working on a series of funds for mid- and long-term solutions specifically targeted toward low-income women and families. All programmatic funding has been converted to general operating grants to allow for necessary flexibility.

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas launched the Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund, raising $2.2 million in just two weeks. The fund will support food security, health care, childcare, distance learning, homeless shelters, and nonprofit operations, among other needs.

Gloria Salinas, Managing Director, Economic Development

The Dallas Regional Chamber—like many employers—began mandating a work-from-home policy to slow the spread of COVID-19.

In early March, the DRC team joined millions across the world in setting up home offices, adjusting to restructured teams, and plugging in to new technology systems to stay connected and productive.

While most everyone can agree on the many perks of working from home, such as no commute and more time for family, exercise, and cooking, there are still challenges that arise during the time of a global pandemic. Dallas County residents and many regional employees are now completing week one of a shelter-in-place mandate that comes with more restrictions and stress on daily life.

To assist our member companies and the many remote workers in the market, the DRC team curated a listing of the best work-from-home practices for both employers and employees.

We’ve rounded up the top five best practices for employers working to create agile, effective teams who will remain resilient in the future, and the top five best practices for employees to establish good habits while staying productive and sane during a crisis.

For Employers:

  1. Create small, rapid response teams: Small teams are more empowered to make quick decisions, communicate easier, and change direction rapidly when needed. Smaller teams also provide autonomy, which spurs leadership, ownership, and creativity. Core teams should include public relations and communications to handle internal and external messaging, legal and regulatory to understand and advise the organization on risk and exposures, and an operational response team to handle everything else, including providing facts for the other teams to move forward with decisions.
  2. Collaborate: The ability to work across teams is crucial both during a crisis and in recovery. Teams should be cross-functional and establish leaders to move between projects and issues quickly.
  3. Keep regular meetings: Set up regular virtual meetings to bring structure, connectivity, and a sense of normalcy to the workday. Also take the time to review communications, structure, and emergency policies.
  4. Create a virtual team culture: Create a transparency among leadership and employees to engage in discussions around the work-from-home environment. Be empathetic to technology issues, needs for proper equipment, and protecting data.
  5. Communicate stress management resources: Management should be patient and flexible in understanding each employee is adjusting to a different work/life balance. Some are adjusting to technology, while others are caregivers or have children at home. Stress management assistance plans, waivers for virtual health care visits, and other employee resources should be communicated regularly.

For Employees:

  1. Establish a routine: Start your day with a routine that helps alleviate stress for the rest of the day. Get your kids ready for their day, have your favorite cup of coffee, or try a light exercise such as yoga.
  2. Don’t work in PJs: This is part of establishing a routine to help kick start a productive day. Get dressed and change clothes, even if it’s a new t-shirt or yoga pants.
  3. Don’t work from bed: Designate a proper workspace in your home to help separate work, and establish a start and end time for the day. Use headphones to tune out noise or turn on the TV or music for white noise.
  4. Break up your day: Take short breaks in the day to stretch, conduct breathing exercises, or take a short walk outside.
  5. Stay connected: Use video conferencing to stay connected to coworkers, make a call rather than sending an email, and remember to socialize and chat about non-work-related life, too.

Resources for Employers:

Accenture: Productivity in Uncertain Times Through the Elastic Digital Workplace – A Practical Guide of Actions Your Business Should Take Now

Boston Consulting Group: How to Remain Remotely Agile Through COVID-19

Boston Consulting Group: COVID-19 Rapid Crisis Response Checklist

PwC: Confidently navigate through the coronavirus crisis

PwC: Protect people and productivity in times of crisis – A C-suite action plan

Littler: COVID-19 Resources for Employers

Resources for Employees:

For fun insights into creating your space and managing time, here’s advice from the creatives at D Custom: D Custom: Remaining a Team: How We’re Working from Home

For more tips on settling in to a work-from-home routine: Jackson Spalding: 10 Tips to Stay Sane While Working From Home

On Wednesday, March 25, our team interviewed Dr. Philip Huang, Director of Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) and a 2020 Leadership Dallas class member. Dr. Huang shared the latest county projections, recommendations for the business community, and the personal side of the fight against COVID-19.

For many people, this is their first experience with a public health crisis. Can you share the methodology behind identifying, assessing, and managing a public health crisis?

One of the things about public health is when we’re doing our job, you don’t know anything about it and things are quiet. We’re monitoring diseases and other issues of concern every day, whether it’s influenza every year, or TB, or sexually transmitted infections, things like that.

We work with the health care system and providers, we get lab reports of new illnesses. Flu is something that every season we are monitoring how bad it is, trying to implement interventions like vaccines. We have had other types of outbreaks that have gotten a lot of attention; most recently perhaps Zika, where we get the reports either perhaps it might be something that was occurring in another country. You start seeing the reports of what’s going on, you monitor that. Then you start to see how that spreads to this country, and we start getting reports and assessing and learning about the disease. When it’s a new disease, we don’t know a lot about how easily it’s transmitted, how lethal it is. We work and communicate with our state health partners, the CDC, also the international partners, as in this case, just to see what is being learned about it. We work with our health care systems to report, here’s what the symptoms of this problem are, are you seeing any of that? As lab testing is available and developed, then we start to gain data from those sorts of testing results. But you know these things progress – usually it’s not as big as this.

But every day, we deal with different infectious disease outbreaks, be it a foodborne outbreak at a local restaurant or something more like this. As it progresses, we’re working with the state and federal partners, and it escalates as it becomes an issue of higher concern where the World Health Organization declares it either a pandemic or something like a public health emergency. At different levels, you get those designations. Certainly, having Judge Jenkins here in our county with the leadership is done in prior events like this, whether Ebola and West Nile virus, or now, this, helps bring together all of the partners. Certainly, the business community is one; health care; schools; and universities. We’re working with homeless shelters, long-term care facilities. Everyone in a situation like this is really a partner and we try to keep those communication channels or emergency responders inspired, EMS all of them. We try to keep in very close communication and coordinate things as they develop.

Please talk about the impact of COVID-19 on the residents of Dallas County.

[Statistics as of midday Wednesday, March 25, 2020]

Yesterday (March 24), we had 78 new cases that were identified. That brings our total case count in Dallas County to 247, and we’ve had our six death. We’re early in this outbreak.  What’s been concerning in particular is how we’ve seen how fast it spreads, how it overwhelmed some of the health care systems in China, in South Korea, and in Italy. Now we are seeing on the West Coast and East Coast some of those numbers that that are very concerning. We’ve done some of the math regarding potential for this and there are two populations in particular we are trying to protect, some of the vulnerable populations; some of the older population, and those with chronic health conditions of any age. We’re also trying to protect health care workers and our health care system from being overrun. Because then if the health care system becomes overrun, we can’t even take care of other people who have COVID-19, or any other health care conditions that will be going on.

Currently, the (Dallas County) judge has issued the orders on social distancing, and the stay home/stay safe day type of policy. The goal of that is to slow this down, to keep the spread of the infection manageable, keep the prevalence of this low and only 2% of the population being infected. If you do the straight math, 2% of Dallas County’s 2.5 million population, would be about 51,000 persons having infection, about 681 deaths would occur. We have about 4,000 hospital beds in the area, and roughly another 400 ICU beds. If you get a 2% prevalence (of COVID-19 infection), 51,000 Dallas County residents would be infected. And if we say of those persons infected, let’s say 7% need hospitalization and multiply by 51,000 persons infected. You have about little less than 4,000 persons that need hospitalization and that’s manageable within our system. But the problem is, and this is where the concern (lies). If you raise it and instead say 20% in Dallas County get infected, that means 517,000 out of our 2.5 million have infection, and based on ratios, you’d get about 6,800 deaths. In terms of number of hospital beds that would be needed, it would be like 37,000 beds, compared to the 4,000 we currently we have. Thinking of the magnitude of our health care system, we got about 4,000 beds available, we’re down about 33,000 beds (in this scenario). You can see how that could potentially influence and impact our health care system – and that’s only with the 20% prevalence. Certainly, if you don’t do anything, this can get to even to 70% of the population being infected. This is why it is so important to be acting quickly and to be acting very strongly on trying to do the social distancing efforts and slow down the spread of this infection.

Why is it important to take a regional approach in fighting COVID-19?

“We are all part of the same region. The (Dallas County) judge mentioned that if we have a really strong policy and say people can’t go to restaurants and bars, or can only get take-out from restaurants. But then if the bars in one of our neighboring counties are open and people who live in Dallas County go to these other bars, get the infection, spread it, and then come back home, that really undermines the effect of some of the social distancing to try to slow down and prevent the spread. That’s why it is really important that these policies affect the whole region.

Do you have a story of hope you can share with the group?

What is encouraging is how the community always comes together for these situations. I’ve been heartened by hearing how community members have really been trying to do all they can to get PPE (personal protective equipment), and make and sew PPE, and mobilize to make ventilators and stuff like that. This is everyone pulling together to address this and recognize how important it is. It’s going to take everyone to work together.

You’re a Dallas native. Can you talk about the personal side of this fight for you?

This where I grew up. I have so many friends from childhood and this is my community. I went to medical school here. This is our community and (I want) to protect the health of everyone who’s here.

On a personal level, my daughter is not right in the community, but she’s in her second year of an OB residency. I am hearing her stories of how frightening it is to be on the very front lines, working in hospitals with a lack of personal protective equipment and masks and other things that are needed to protect our health care workforce. It is scary, and that’s why is it so important for all of us to pull together at the protect everyone in this community. When you look at some of the potential numbers of what this could be, it’s huge. Our family members and all of us make an impact.

Any final recommendations for how this group of business leaders can help?

We’re all in this together, and that’s how were going to successfully get through this. We will get through it. And I appreciate all the support that the business community has given to us during this. I know is that it’s not easy at all, but we will get through it.

Our next virtual town hall will be a conversation with Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath. He will share his insights on how COVID-19 has impacted public schools, students, educators and care givers. Learn what his recommendations are for parents, business and our elected officials during his conversation with Drexell Owusu, the Senior Vice President of Education & Workforce at the DRC.

Gloria Salinas, Managing Director, Economic Development

As businesses across the Dallas Region and the nation begin to grapple with the impact of COVID-19, PwC has launched a free customized digital assessment to arm business leaders with a COVID-19 response readiness report.

The PwC COVID-19 Navigator is a free online, interactive tool aimed at helping a company’s leadership team understand facts. The digital assessment contains three sections of questions that gauge where the company is in its response to COVID-19. The tool is designed to assess and guide leadership toward a path of preparedness across six focus areas:

  • Crisis Management and Response
  • Workforce
  • Operations and Supply Chain
  • Finance and Liquidity
  • Tax and Trade
  • Strategy and Brand

Navigator is a collaborative tool that creates a shareable link for a company’s leadership team to access and provide input on different sections of the survey. The tool aggregates all responses and information provided during the survey and remains confidential to the company.

The deliverable is a customized report, based on specific responses, that capture where the company stands in each of the six areas of response. The report provides recommendations on areas the company should focus key questions for leadership to help navigate this unprecedented time as well as best practices.

As PwC works to further develop the tool, new versions are expected to include benchmarking data to allow participants to compare their own risk and readiness to similar organizations.

To begin the COVID-19 Navigator digital assessment, visit PwC’s COVID-19 Navigator Registration Site.

For more information on the COVID-19 Navigator, email the Navigator Team at us_covid-19_navigator@pwc.com or visit COVID-19:What US business leaders should know.

Dave Moore, Staff Writer

Judges from Collin, Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant county commissioner courts have issued orders meant to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that’s sweeping the region and the world. Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant counties are ordering near-complete shutdowns of a host of non-essential activities. Collin, meanwhile, is relying on individuals and business professionals to maintain safe distances to keep nearly all businesses operating. In all cases, orders apply to individuals based on their county of residence.

Collin County

On March 24, Collin County Judge Chris Hill issued an executive order to safeguard the public from COVID-19, emphasizing public responsibility – maintaining six feet of separation – to curb its spread.

The order declares all businesses, jobs, and workers as essential to the financial health and well-being of the county. Entertainment activities are not considered essential. It orders vulnerable populations and those infected to stay home.

“Persons shall avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, or visiting gyms or massage parlors,” the order states, referencing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s March 19 executive order. The order highly encourages the use of drive-through, pickup, and delivery for bars, restaurants, and food courts.

Dallas County

Judge Clay Jenkins was among the first county leaders in North Texas to issue a broad stay-at-home order for county residents.

“Some folks might say this is an overaction,” Jenkins said at a press conference. “I know many business owners who will say this, but I haven’t found a doctor who will say this. They are pretty clear on what we should do.”

Under the order, residents should only leave home for essential activities, such as a doctor’s appointment or grocery shopping. In effort to help control the spread of the coronavirus, only those who provide essential services are permitted to continue to work outside the home.

Denton County

Effective at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, an executive order by Judge Andy Eads closely matches Dallas County’s stay-at-home order, which was issued March 22, with  minor amendments. Like the Dallas County order, Eads’ order allows outdoor activity (running, biking, hiking, etc.), as long as individuals comply with the CDC’s six-feet distancing protocol. While Dallas County’s order doesn’t mention the sellers and servicers of recreational vehicles as essential, Denton County’s order does.

Tarrant County

On Tuesday, March 24, Judge Glen Whitley signed an amended executive order that also, to some degree, mirrors Dallas County’s stay-at-home order, in terms of defining essential service providers. The order also takes aim at those who attempt to profit as a result of the pandemic.

“…No person shall sell any of the following goods or services for more than the price the person charged for the goods or services on March 16, 2020, and continuing during the pendency of this Executive Order (on) groceries, beverages, toilet articles, ice … restaurant, cafeteria, and boarding-house meals; and … medicine, pharmaceutical and medical equipment, and supplies,” the order states.

Michael Wood, Manager, Education & Workforce

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, all Texas school districts are closed through at least April 3, leaving parents and educators scrambling to continue student learning at home.

The Dallas Regional Chamber has compiled a list of free resources for parents and educators to support students and ease the transition into remote learning.

Parents should check directly with their child’s school district for more information on remote learning provided by their teacher(s) or school.

 

Resources for Parents and Educators:

BrainPOP Free Access: Video-based educational content across all subjects and grades

IBM Open P-TECH: Free, cutting-edge data and technology curriculum for students and teachers

KERA At-Home Education Toolkit: Curated resources for learning, family care, and play

Khan Academy Remote Learning: Guides for utilizing Khan Academy curriculum during closures

PNC Grow Up Great: Learning materials and educator trainings to support young children

Scholastic Learn at Home: Daily multi-subject lessons to continue learning for PK-9th students

Virtual Field Trips: A collection of virtual field trips for students of all ages

 

Resources for Parents:

Tips for Homeschooling During School Closures: Best practices for parents new to homeschool

Talking to Children About COVID-19: Guidelines for explaining the COVID-19 situation to kids

Virtual Author Activities: Compilation of authors offering virtual read-a-longs and activities

 

Resources for Educators:

Webex Transitioning to Virtual Learning: Resources for converting to a virtual classroom

Teacher Advisor Instructional Guidance: Free math lesson planning from IBM for grades K-8th

Dave Moore, Staff Writer

As social distancing has become a primary firebreak to stop the spread of COVID-19, Dallas-based AT&T has launched initiatives that allow workers, students, and emergency responders to stay connected.

The telecom provider has lifted caps on home internet data usage, including unlimited broadband. The firm has also bolstered at-home learning, with the March 20 announcement of a $1 million donation to the Khan Academy from AT&T’s newly created Distance Learning and Family Connections Fund. The day before, on March 19, AT&T expanded its service for limited income individuals – called Access from AT&T – to include households participating in the National School Lunch Program. The company also announced it is helping businesses and universities set up virtual offices and classrooms with conference call and video conferencing with Cisco Webex Meetings with AT&T.

Further, AT&T announced it wouldn’t terminate its wireless, home phone, or broadband residential/small business service due to a customer’s inability to pay bills as a result of COVID-19.

“Connectivity is always essential to our customers – doctors and nurses, first responders, governments, banks, grocery stores, pharmacies, and others delivering vital services,” wrote Jeff McElfresh, CEO of AT&T Communications, in a March 18 letter to customers. “It’s even more critical during a public health crisis that’s challenging everyone. In fact, as a critical infrastructure provider, AT&T views it as our civic duty to step up and keep our customers and communities connected.”

Gloria Salinas, Managing Director, Economic Development

Updated March 25, 2020: Dallas Region hospitals are now closed to visitors and exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

D Magazine reported that several hospitals will not allow visitors in inpatient and emergency departments. Visitors will be restricted to certain areas of hospitals and only allowed when a patient is under 18,  needs necessary care and support, such as one support person in labor and delivery, one support person for patients with disabilities, and one support person when a patient is nearing the end of life. All visitors will be screened on a case-by-case basis.


Hospital visitors across the Dallas Region can expect health screenings at entrances and other restrictions as area hospitals work to prevent the growing number of coronavirus cases.

New safety precautions from the Texas Health and Human Services allow one family visitor per patient, and all non-essential visitors are prohibited in hospitals and outpatient clinics operated by the hospitals, as reported by The Dallas Morning News. The new visitor policies also tighten points of entry and employ virtual care visits as health screening tools.

Visitors are required to complete a health screening at hospital entrances to check for symptoms of coronavirus, such as a temperature check for fever and questions regarding travel within the past 14 days. Visitor restrictions also extend to ER-waiting rooms. Dallas Medical Center’s emergency waiting room is closed to visitors and children patients in emergency rooms are only allowed one parent or guardian.

Visitor age restrictions have also been implemented. UT Southwestern is not allowing children visitors under the age of 12, Medical City Healthcare family visitors must be at least 16, and Methodist Health System is not permitting visitors under the age of 18.

In another effort to flatten the curve of new coronavirus cases, Medical City Dallas is employing virtual care visits as pre-health screening tools to detect symptoms before a patient arrives.

At Children’s Health in Dallas, a free virtual visit screening is available for families to video chat with a health care provider 24/7 from their home if a child is experiencing any illnesses, injuries, and mental health. Families are asked to use the free code: COVID19.

For more specific information on area hospital visitor policies, please visit the websites linked below.

Dallas Regional Health Systems and COVID-19 Web Sites:

The Dallas Regional Chamber calls on all members of our North Texas Congressional delegation to support immediate federal assistance for U.S. airlines. In the Dallas Region, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines are vital economic engines. American Airlines has 33,000 employees here and 80 percent of the flights at DFW International Airport, which accounts for $40 billion of annual GDP. Southwest Airlines has 12,500 employees here and accounts for 90 percent of the flights at Dallas Love Field, the fastest-growing airport in the U.S. over the past decade. Without swift federal action, the Dallas Region will feel a decline in almost every measurable indicator of economic activity.

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About the Dallas Regional Chamber

The Dallas Regional Chamber is one of the most established business organizations in the nation and serves as the voice of business and the champion of economic development and growth in the Dallas Region. We work with our member companies and regional partners to strengthen our business community by advocating for pro-growth public policies, improving our educational system, attracting talented workers from around the world, and enhancing the quality of life for all. Our goal is to make Dallas the best place in the United States to live, work, and do business. For more information, please contact the DRC at 214.746.6600 or visit www.dallaschamber.org.

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Contact: Scott Goldstein, Senior Vice President of Communications, Marketing & Events
Direct Line: 214-746-6681
sgoldstein@dallaschamber.org

Dave Moore, Staff Writer

While COVID-19 is threatening the world’s fiscal and physical health, it also offers business leaders the chance to demonstrate that they can be a powerful force for good.

That’s one of the motivations behind the Dallas Regional Chamber’s launch of its COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall video series, which kicked off Thursday, March 19, featuring DRC President and CEO Dale Petroskey in discussion with 2020 DRC Board Chair John Olajide.

Olajide’s company, AXXESS, is a leading developer of software that allows patients to receive health care at home. He said that while technology is leading that way generally, with greater work-at-home capabilities, the novel coronavirus outbreak has pushed almost all of his firm’s workforce to work remotely.

While physical separation is necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Olajide said the practice of social distancing might be contributing a sense of isolation among individuals and organizations. He said it’s crucial that everyone and every organization galvanize to overcome the threat of the novel coronavirus. He added the DRC is playing a crucial role in making that happen.

“The leaders in this community – the political leaders, business leaders, community leaders – are working together on all issues to get us through this,” Olajide said. “Whether it’s a strategic issue, or tactical, or in the weeds, we’re in this, we’re rolling up our sleeves, and we’re doing the right thing.”

Petroskey said a recent DRC Executive Committee meeting revealed that virtually all sectors – airlines, education, hospitality, utilities, restaurants, and even real estate – will likely be impacted by COVID-19. Accordingly, the DRC is working with market segment leaders to bring assistance to where it’s needed, and to call attention to companies’ good deeds.

Through the work of its staff, the Virtual Town Hall, and its website, the DRC is calling attention to the generosity and good deeds being done by our business community. To share a story about what your company is doing as part of the force for good, please email Milton Grays, mgrays@dallaschamber.org

President Donald Trump declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency pursuant to the National Emergencies Act, and specified provisions to provide federal aid to state and local governments.

When Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster, the executive order authorized the governor for the next 30 days, unless renewed, as the “commander in chief of state agencies, boards, and commissions having emergency responsibilities” and has complete authority to suspend certain state laws and regulations, access state funds, and request federal aid.

Mayors and county judges in North Texas have declared a local state of disaster and instituted emergency regulations, such as closing bars, entertainment venues, and in-restaurant dining.

It is important to note that if there are any conflicting county and city proclamations, the county supersedes.

For example, the City of Dallas and Dallas County both issued emergency regulations prohibiting dining in restaurants and closed bars, entertainment venues, and gyms etc; however, other cities within Dallas County that have not issued such restrictions must follow Dallas County’s regulations.

The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak represents an unprecedented challenge for employers and job-seekers in North Texas. In light of these challenges, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has issued helpful resources to support those impacted by the outbreak.

Collectively, these resources will aid workers experiencing unemployment or reduced hours, and support struggling businesses in preventing further layoffs.

Resources for Businesses to Prevent Layoffs

Companies experiencing slowed business as a result of the pandemic may utilize TWC’s Shared Work program to retain staff. Shared Work helps employers supplement lost employee wages due to reduced hours through partial unemployment benefits.

Eligibility for the program requires that reductions in weekly hours be between 10-40%, and impact at least 10% of employees in a business or department.

For more information and to apply, visit the Shared Work website.

Resources for Businesses Facing Closures or Layoffs

Businesses that must close or otherwise layoff employees may be able to submit a Mass Claim for unemployment benefits on behalf of all affected employees. This resource initiates and streamlines the unemployment enrollment process.

For more information or to submit a request, visit the Mass Claims website.

Resources for Newly Unemployed Individuals

As for individuals who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, the TWC is waiving the work search requirement and week-long waiting period for unemployment assistance, easing access to crucial support during this time.

We encourage employers to share this information with affected employees and to cite COVID-19 when you receive a Notice of Application for Unemployment Benefits for one of your former employees from TWC.

For more information or to apply, visit the Unemployment Benefits Service website.

Leaders from Dallas business, tourism and advocacy organizations met in recent days to discuss the regional response to COVID-19. The following is a joint statement from John Olajide, Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC) 2020 Chair of the Board, Dale Petroskey, DRC President & CEO, Kourtny Garrett, President & CEO of Downtown Dallas, Inc., Fred Perpall, Chairman of the Dallas Citizens Council, Kelvin Walker, CEO of the Dallas Citizens Council, and Craig Davis, CEO of VisitDallas.

We are facing one of the great challenges of our time in combating COVID-19, but we can, and we will, get through this together. Right now, containment is the key. Slowing the spread of this illness is what will allow our health care providers to treat those among us who most need care.

It is imperative that the people of Dallas and the surrounding region take appropriate steps to slow the spread of this potentially deadly coronavirus, including limiting gatherings and working from home. That is why we fully support the actions taken by Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and Governor Greg Abbott to limit gatherings and protect the health and welfare of the public.

We also believe it is imperative that our health care workers have access to more test kits, so that they may be able to track and treat patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19. Testing should be robust and conducted at locations separate from our hospitals and doctors’ offices. Over the next few days, we anticipate Dallas will have new drive-thru testing facilities, which will increase testing capacity and serve more residents. We strongly support these programs and are calling on Congressional leaders and state agencies to provide the necessary funding and staffing resources to Dallas County Health and Human Services, hospitals, and other public health authorities to operate these programs. We are grateful to the President and Congress approving relief packages to fight COVID-19, but additional funding is needed at the local level as this situation continues to evolve over the next eight weeks.

Finally, we understand that this will be a time of great economic hardship and we are coordinating on a plan to help workers who may be out of a job as a result of temporary COVID-19 restrictions. We will be pooling our resources and working with our member companies and organizations to connect those in need of employment with possible temporary and longer-term job opportunities.

Contact: Olivia Breedlove
Managing Director, Communications and Marketing
Dallas Regional Chamber
Phone: 214-746-6790
obreedlove@dallaschamber.org

Contact: Sarah Jackson
Vice President, Strategy and Public Affairs
Dallas Citizens Council
Phone: 214-546-6374
sjackson@dallascitizenscouncil.org