Dallas County added another 1,368 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday along with six more deaths attributed to the virus.
Of the cases reported Wednesday, the county said 1,185 were confirmed cases and 183 were probable (antigen test) cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the county from March to 122,184 and the number of probable (antigen test) cases to 11,627. Over the last seven days, Dallas County officials have confirmed 11,504 confirmed and probable cases of the virus.
The six latest victims involved patients from their 60s to their 80s, all of whom had been hospitalized and had underlying health conditions.
County officials said Wednesday there have been 1,202 confirmed deaths in the county attributed to the virus and another 29 probable deaths. In the summer, Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang said COVID-19 is the third leading cause of death in the county behind diseases of the heart and cancers.
Due to the upcoming holiday, Dallas County officials said they would not be reporting new COVID-19 numbers on Thursday or Friday and that Wednesday's numbers will be reported on Saturday and Thursday, Friday and Saturday's numbers will be reported on Sunday.
The county added that the provisional 7-day average for new confirmed and probable cases by date of a test collection for CDC week 46 has increased to 1,405, which is a rate of 53.3 daily new cases per 100,000 residents. During the same week, a provisional total of 1,282 confirmed and probable cases were diagnosed in school children between the ages of 5 and 17 -- a three-fold increase from five weeks earlier.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Wednesday that asymptomatic COVID-19 testing performed at Parkland on patients undergoing routine procedures, surgery, or for labor and delivery, averaged over the last seven days is 12%.
"This positivity rate is more than double the 5% rate that we have recently seen for COVID-19 positive asymptomatic individuals. If it is correct, it means that a gathering of 10 people statistically would have at least one person that is an asymptomatic COVID-19 positive spreader in that gathering," Jenkins said. "Even using the 5% positivity rate, there would be one COVID-19 positive spreader for every 20 persons."
Judge Jenkins has cautioned for most of the month that the number of new COVID-19 cases could approach 2,000 per day by Thanksgiving if steps to mitigate the spread of the virus aren't taken -- the county has reported 11,504 new cases in the last seven days including a record 2,183 cases on Saturday followed by another 1,862 on Sunday.
"We recognize that this Thanksgiving will be different from Thanksgiving in the past as doctors and I hope you will spend it with the smallest amount of people possible, ideally just the people that you live with," Jenkins said on Twitter Monday.
"Being around 10 people exposes you to a 35% risk that one of those 10 individuals is COVID-19 positive and can infect the group. If that number rises to 20 people in your gathering, then it is near statistical certainty that there will be a COVID-19 positive individual at your gathering. Keep this in mind and avoid visiting crowded indoor venues at this time of high spread. When outdoors, please make sure to maintain your distance on trails and at shared space," the county said in a statement Tuesday.
Jenkins suggests forgoing Black Friday shopping in person, using curbside pickup or contactless options for restaurant, retail and grocery shopping needs.
"COVID will not be with us forever and next Thanksgiving will look like Thanksgiving in the past, but the actions we take now could determine whether we have a full complement of the people that we are thankful for in our upcoming celebrations," Jenkins said. "So please, do all that you can to follow the doctors’ advice and stay safe this holiday season."
"I know this Thanksgiving is different but it can still be special. I hope everyone will take the time to think of the things that they are thankful for, list those things, and I suspect we’ll all find that each of us have people that we’re thankful for. I hope that we take the time in this Thanksgiving season to thank those people. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve all of you and I wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving," Jenkins said Wednesday.