Traffic was light around Dallas Tuesday as people seemed to be honoring the first full day of the county's stay at home orders.
The Dallas County Health Director delivered an alarming forecast to county commissioners Tuesday of how hospital beds could be overwhelmed without the tougher rules that took effect Monday night to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Based on research from other places that have dealt with the virus, Dr. Philip Huang said without restrictions, the virus could infect 40% of the population, with 75,000 patients needing hospitalization and 16,603 deaths.
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Dallas County has only 416 intensive care unit beds and 3,922 other hospital beds, nowhere near enough to handle a full onslaught of COVID-19.
With the stay at home order in place, Huang said the numbers should be a more manageable 51,000 infections with 3,776 hospitalizations, but still a troubling 681 deaths.
“Slow the spread down, keep the prevalence of infection down and the goal is even 2%. If we achieve that, then the current hospital bed situation would be manageable,” Huang said.
He would not say how long the stay at home order must remain in effect.
“We are learning day by day and the situation changes day by day. So we are trying to look at the science, look at what’s happening in other communities and implement some of those best practices,” Huang said.
He said another priority was to get enough personal protective equipment for first responders and healthcare workers.
People wearing PPE are clearly visible in a Parkland Hospital parking lot at the COVID-19 testing location for first responders.
Across the street, Jaz Fopp, the owner of the Thai2Go restaurant said there was much less Thai to go served on Tuesday.
“It’s slower than yesterday. Yesterday was better,” she said. “We try hard to survive because we have children. We have employees to pay.”
She said she hoped her neighbors would order food from her. But despite the harm to her business, Fopp still said she supported the county’s stay at home order.
“To keep our community go on, stay home,” she said. “I’m OK with it and I make sure my people understand, my family understand.”
Customer Phyllis Olsen visited the Jimmy John's sandwich store next to Fopp’s restaurant Tuesday.
“I feel bad for them. It’s tough,” Olsen said.
She said she has cooked more at home since the coronavirus scare started, but wanted to keep helping restaurants.
“I’m not personally worried,” Olsen said. “I’m trying to be positive. So, let’s hope that positivity works.”
A long road still lies ahead on the coronavirus path.