Dallas County is reporting another 544 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday along with seven more deaths, according to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
"Today's seven deaths include a woman in her 20s and a man in his 50s with no underlying health conditions, a somber reminder of the dangerous nature of COVID-19 on everyone," Jenkins said Wednesday.
The seven latest victims include:
- A Dallas woman in her 20s who had been critically ill in an area hospital who did not have underlying health conditions.
- A Dallas woman in her 40s who had been critically ill in an area hospital who had underlying high-risk health conditions.
- A Dallas man in his 50s who had been hospitalized and did not have high-risk health conditions.
- A Dallas woman in her 60s who had underlying health conditions who was found deceased at home.
- A DeSoto man in his 60s with underlying high-risk health conditions who had been critically ill in an area hospital.
- A Seagoville man in his 70s who was a resident of a long-term care facility. The man had underlying high-risk health conditions and had been critically ill at an area hospital.
- A Dallas woman in her 80s who had underlying high-risk health conditions and had been hospitalized.
The 544 cases reported Wednesday snaps a five-day run of record-setting new cases being reported by the county. The 7-day average for new cases is now 535 cases per day, up from an average of 209 per day on June 1. In the last week, Dallas County has added 3,747 new cases of the virus.
Since June 1, Dallas County has reported 54 confirmed cases in children and staff from 26 separate daycare facilities.
The increase in cases comes as the state's positivity rate, the percentage of people testing positive for the virus, reached nearly 15% Sunday, a high not seen since mid-April.
An increase in the positivity rate indicates an increase in the spread of the virus, not an increase in testing for the virus.
Instead of focusing on the raw case numbers, however, Jenkins has suggested the focus should be on the increasing number of hospitalizations in North Texas and across the state.
On Wednesday, the county reported 532 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in the county, 87 fewer than on Tuesday. Of the lower number, the county said, "these numbers appear to be substantially lower due to an issue related to reporting and unfortunately, will likely increase once the number of reporting facilities returns to normal."
According to the county's most recent bi-weekly epidemiology summary, the number of ICU admissions in the county for the week ending June 20 was 52, up from 43 the week before. Hospitalizations through June 20 were also up, nearing 250 for the week.
The county has now accumulated more than 21,800 cases of the virus since testing began in March. There have been 380 deaths attributed in the county to the virus, which, according to Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang, is now the third leading cause of death in the county behind diseases of the heart and cancers.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, an estimated 12,713 people (through Tuesday) in the county have recovered from the virus leaving an estimated 8,511 known patients fighting the infection.
County officials have said more than half of the new cases reported have been young adults between the ages of 18 and 39.
Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Tuesday said Texans must buckle down as Fourth of July weekend approaches. In an interview with NBC 5 on Tuesday afternoon, he urged North Texans to take precautions over the holiday weekend and know that, "anybody you come into contact with could have COVID-19."
“If we have a replication of Memorial Day it’s going to be a problem,” Abbott said. “We’re not dealing with pockets of growth of COVID. Instead, we’re dealing with community spread.”
Jenkins reiterated the governor's message Wednesday saying, "we cannot afford another deviation from making good decisions like we saw during Easter/Passover and Memorial Day given the surge in cases we are now seeing. That must not happen this weekend. If it does, our hospitals are at risk of being overrun later, many more people will get sick and die, and our economy will be set back for months."
"I need you, your family needs you and your community needs you to make strong choices," Jenkins said. "If you lead a family, please ensure that everyone in your family practices a safe 4th of July by being around only those people you are in close contact with daily and wearing a mask and maintaining six-foot distancing."
Jenkins has urged the governor to establish a statewide mandate for masks, but Abbott continues to simply ask people to wear them rather than make it a requirement statewide.
“If we all wear a mask like this every single day, we can together continue help people earn paychecks while keeping people safe and slowing the spread of the coronavirus,” Abbott said.
Effective June 19, the Dallas County Commissioners Court mandated that all customers and employees wear face coverings while inside businesses inside Dallas County. If people refuse, the business could face a fine.
"Everyone should wear a mask 100% of the time when you’re around people outside your home. Avoid unnecessary trips. Ask yourself if the trip is a desire or a necessity. Make lists when going to the grocery store so that you go shopping as little as possible and avoid in-person activities such as dining and indoor exercise where you or others are not wearing a mask 100% of the time," Jenkins said Monday. "We’re seeing significant growth throughout Texas and here in North Texas in the number of COVID-19 cases and if this trend doesn’t reverse, it’ll have a very serious and negative impact on public health and our economy."
To date, of cases requiring hospitalization who reported employment, 83% have been critical infrastructure workers, with a broad range of affected occupational sectors, including healthcare, transportation, food and agriculture, public works, finance, communications, clergy, first responders and other essential functions.
Of cases requiring hospitalization, two-thirds have been under 65 years of age, and about half do not have high-risk chronic health conditions. Diabetes has been an underlying high-risk health condition reported in about a third of all hospitalized patients with COVID-19.
The county has been reporting for several weeks now that more than a third of the deaths related to COVID-19 have been among residents of long-term care facilities.
NBC 5's Claire Cardona and Candace Sweat contributed to this report.