Dallas County commits $500K to scientists looking to pinpoint regional prevalence of COVID-19

Dallas County commissioners agreed to contribute partial funding to the study at a July 10 meeting. (Courtesy Dallas County)
Dallas County commissioners agreed to contribute partial funding to the study at a July 10 meeting. (Courtesy Dallas County)

Dallas County commissioners agreed to contribute partial funding to the study at a July 10 meeting. (Courtesy Dallas County)

Dallas County commissioners voted July 10 to pitch $500,000 toward a two-year study on the prevalence of COVID-19 in Dallas-Fort Worth.

The effort is a partnership between UT Southwestern and Texas Health Resources. The study will launch this month and will analyze the prevalence of the virus in Dallas and Tarrant counties.

Thousands of cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area since the start of the pandemic. However, insufficient testing capacity and the prevalence of asymptomatic carriers mean scientists have an incomplete picture of the virus’s impact on the region, according to the study proposal.

“Despite the high number of confirmed cases, the true prevalence of COVID-19 infections is believed to be underestimated but to an unknown degree,” scientists wrote in the proposal.

The endeavor should help scientists better understand the risk of exposure among high-risk groups and can also serve to guide policy decisions around testing, business reopenings, building infrastructure and resources needed for potential future outbreaks, according to the proposal.


Researchers will test 44,000 individuals, including 14,000 high-risk workers and 3,000 community members, according to court documents. Participants will come from various socioeconomic backgrounds and different parts of the region.

All in, the study will cost $10 million. Other government entities, including the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth as well as Tarrant County, are helping to foot the bill, according to Commissioners Court documents. The remainder of the project will be paid for by UT Southwestern and Texas Health.

Dallas County will use relief money from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to cover its portion of the cost. Those funds are available through the end of this year, which lines up with the completion of data collection for the study, County Administrator Charles Reed said.

“This is a textbook expense under the CARES Act,” he said.

Click here for the study proposal.
By Olivia Lueckemeyer
Olivia Lueckemeyer graduated in 2013 from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in journalism. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2016 as reporter for the Southwest Austin edition before her promotion to editor in March 2017. In July 2018 she returned home to the Dallas area and became editor of the Richardson edition.