Dallas County health officials reported an additional five deaths and 186 new cases of the coronavirus Wednesday in what county Judge Clay Jenkins called a "healthy decline" in the number of positive cases.
The deaths included a Irving man in his 40s, a Farmers Branch man in his 50s, a Grand Prairie woman in her 70s, a Mesquite man in his 70s and a man in his 70s who had been a resident of a long-term care facility in Dallas and who died at a hospital emergency room.
More than a third of deaths in the county have been associated with long-term care facilities, according to the county.
The cases bring the county's total to 8,090 positive cases and 196 deaths. The state is reporting more than 3,600 recoveries in Dallas County.
Of the cases that have required hospitalization who reported their employment, more than 80% have been critical infrastructure workers in sectors such as healthcare, transportation, food and agriculture, public works and first responders.
“Today’s number of cases is markedly lower than what we saw last week and now halfway through the week we’re seeing a healthy decline in the number of new positive cases," Jenkins said in a written statement.
Jenkins said there has not been an "appreciable increase" in testing, though there has been some increase with new testing sites, such as those opened by Walmart and Kroger Health.
"So this is somewhat of an apples to apples comparison over the last three weeks," Jenkins said. "We’ve seen an increase, then a plateau, and now we’re seeing a gradual decline. The doctors tell me to temper my optimism on this and that the key numbers to look at are ICU admissions, hospital beds and deaths but I’d rather see the number of new cases going down than up."
For the first time, the number of occupied ICU beds in the city of Dallas surpassed 70%, or 588 of 828 -- the highest to date. The numbers were provided as part of a daily point-in-time accounting of hospital capacity.
In a news conference Wednesday, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said the number was not something to worry or panic about just yet.
"I would not read too much into it just yet, it's one day," Johnson said. "It's something we're going to keep our eye on."
He added that Gov. Greg Abbott has assured him he would step in to address capacity issues and ventilators if Dallas ever got into the "danger zone" of consistently above 70%.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.