Dallas County on Tuesday reported a three-day total of more than 3,200 new COVID-19 cases, including both confirmed and probable cases.
More than half of hospitalizations for the virus in the county involve people under the age of 40, the majority of whom are unvaccinated.
Dallas County leaders held a press conference to update the public on where the virus stands and explained models show case numbers and hospitalizations could rival or surpass peak 2020 numbers if action is not taken.
“Our situation definitely has gotten so critical at this point,” Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang said.
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There were 682 people hospitalized with coronavirus in Dallas County on Tuesday, about 97% of them are unvaccinated.
The county raised the COVID-19 "risk level" to red this week after it registered a 300% increase in cases and a 377% increase in hospitalizations.
The biggest spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations was among adults ages 18-49.
Elderly residents are beginning to register higher numbers, as are children.
“I want to start by saying the enemy is not Greg Abbott,” Jenkins said. “It’s not each other. It’s not the unvaccinated. The enemy is the virus itself.”
It is a virus with a variant that is much more contagious, according to health experts. One person, including children, can infect five people. Abbott issued an executive order prohibiting local governments and school districts from mandating masks, despite increasing cases.
“For 19 counties, we now at this moment, have two pediatric ICU beds,” Jenkins said. “These are not just for COVID. Car wrecks or anything else, if your child needs ICU and a ventilator in a 19 county area, we have two.”
Jenkins on Tuesday requested a temporary restraining order against the governor for restricting local leaders from implementing mask mandates.
If the judge in the case rules in the county’s favor, a mask mandate would be enforceable, Jenkins said
Pediatrician Marcial Oquendo at Oak Cliff pediatrics said he has seen an uptick in cases, particularly among teens.
“We’re seeing more cases in the past two weeks than we have in the past six months,” Oquendo said. “Symptomatic infections, like kids who are coming in saying they have a cough, congestion, running nose, body aches, headaches.”
Some also report a loss of smell or taste, he said.
The county is confronting a shortage of frontline workers.
Infectious disease Dr. Emma Dishner said the pandemic has taken a big toll.
“Very, very tired and defeated that we’re at a point in the spike of the pandemic that could have been prevented and it’s like it’s worse than it ever was," she said.
Dischner said many of her unvaccinated patients aren’t necessarily against the COVID-19 vaccine.
“There is just a lot of apathy,” she said.
Huang shared a story from the front lines on Tuesday along with another plea to mask up and getting vaccinated.
“A patient had to be intubated, and right before they intubated this patient, this patient screamed out a loud expletive and said, ‘I should’ve gotten the vaccine!’ You do not want to be that person,” he said.