The following editorial published in the Dallas Morning News on July 10:
After a year of quarantines, the loss of many lives, the closing of many businesses and then the slow return to normalcy as vaccinations became available, it’s becoming clear that COVID-19 is fading as a daily concern for many of us, even as its impact will be with us for a long time to come.
Marking milestones in a journey like this is important, and Dallas County has reached a major one: herd immunity.
A community reaches herd immunity when 80% of its residents have either had COVID-19 or been vaccinated, meaning 80% of the population has antibodies that protect them against the virus, and transmission to unvaccinated populations is unlikely. Dallas County reached this classification with less than half of residents vaccinated; others sadly had to suffer with the disease to develop the antibodies.
But now with herd immunity comes a level of protection that means we can more easily focus on other effects of the pandemic, including mental health, education loss and economic damage. We have already begun opening back up, opening businesses, returning to the office, enrolling kids in school in-person for the fall and lowering mask mandates. Now we need to work to regain what we’ve lost.
It is also important to note while Dallas County as a whole has reached herd immunity, not every ZIP code in the county has. The county’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Herd Immunity Dashboard shows some ZIP codes have 100% immunity, such as North Dallas’ 75251, while others fall much shorter than the 80% required for herd immunity, like south Oak Cliff (75237), which is only at 52%.
Many ZIP codes outside of Dallas proper are even worse. Grapevine’s 76051 is at 14.4%, and Ferris’ 75125 is at 19.9%. This is due both to a low number of positive cases in the area and a large number of residents who haven’t had even the first dose of the vaccine. While there are currently no positive cases in Ferris, there are more active cases in 76051 than vaccinated individuals.
So our work isn’t finished. We still need to push every ZIP code and county to a level of vaccination that offers protection for the entire community.
Even so, the strides made to get us to this point are worth celebrating. However we move forward as a community, it won’t be a quick return to normal. But this marker on the path to normalcy is cause for celebration as we tackle the problems left in the wake of the pandemic.