Dallas Mayor Promotes COVID-19 Vaccines at Back to School Fair

City also pursues lasting improvements with COVID-19 relief money

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Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said Wednesday he is doing all he can to promote vaccines and stop the COVID-19 pandemic, as positive cases and hospitalizations keep rising among unvaccinated people with the delta variant surge.

“I am imploring all of our Dallas residents to please get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Johnson said.

He congratulated winners of a vaccine prize raffle he sponsored and announced a special vaccine event to be held Friday.

Prizes from many sponsors for getting vaccinated in June and July went to 120 people with a total value of more than $15,000.

A 16-year old, Angelina Ramos, won the $1,500 VISA gift card grand prize.

“I’m going to buy back-to-school things,” Ramos said.

COVID-19 vaccines will be a big part of this year’s back to school fair in Dallas. NBC 5’s Larry Collins explains.

Her prize was much more valuable than her 13-year old brother Christian’s museum pass. 

Angelina said she would share the gift card with the rest of her family.

“I’ll split it with them,” she said.

Their mom Raquel Ramos said both teens were vaccinated even before the mayor’s raffle was announced.  She said she is glad they are protected.

“I am, but we're still going to wear our mask, anywhere we go,” Raquel Ramos said.

Mayor Johnson said he would give that same advice to Governor Greg Abbott, who forbids local mask mandates if the governor were to seek the mayor’s opinion.

“I'd say, tell everyone they need to get vaccinated. Tell everyone they need to wear a mask. Period,” Johnson said.

Vaccinations will be offered this year at the 25th annual Mayor’s Back to School Fair to be held Friday at Dallas Fair Park.

Johnson said this year’s event will be the largest ever, with 10,000 students who’ve registered receiving school supplies.

But the vaccines will be offered to anyone with no advance registration, 12 years of age and older.

People seeking vaccination can drive through at Gate 16 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Vaccination by Walmart will be available in the walk-up portion of the Mayor’s Back to School Fair at 4 p.m.

“This effort is going to help us protect our students, our educators, and all of our families,” Johnson said.

Wednesday the Dallas City Council discussed solutions to some big problems that would have been much more difficult to address without the large sum of COVID-19 relief money Dallas is receiving from the federal government.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, signed by President Biden in March, will send $355.4 million to Dallas with 50% now and 50% in May 2022.

Internet for Dallas is powered by the Internet for All Coalition, made up of several school districts, cities, businesses and non-profit groups. 

A 180-mile fiber backbone is part of the plan, to bring broadband service to areas that had none for stay-at-home school lessons. Adding fixed wireless service in certain locations could bring the project to $82 million.

Three hotels purchased by the city for COVID-19 quarantine will become part of a plan to provide housing for homeless people who currently live in tent camps around Dallas.

The city of Dallas is teaming up with Dallas County, other cities and several social service organizations for the $73 million plan.

Dallas City Council members are pleased.

“My first two years on council I was very underwhelmed by our efforts on homelessness. This is something that I believe is game-changing. So, I want to acknowledge the difference from where we were to where we are going,” Councilman Adam Bazaldua said.

Mayor Johnson acknowledged the scope of these efforts.

“You have identified a silver lining. It is difficult to talk about a pandemic like that, but I think that's true,” Johnson said.

First more immediate efforts to combat COVID-19 continue, some with other portions of that money.

Fair Park will open Friday for shots at the Back to School Fair, and then again the next several Saturdays for Dallas County vaccination efforts.

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