One day after adding a record day number of new COVID-19 cases, Dallas County Health confirms another 645 cases of the virus along with four more deaths but warns that the lower number could be due to a reporting issue from the state health department.
On Tuesday afternoon, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the county was reporting about one-third of the 1,800 cases reported the day before and that the drop in new cases could be due to an issue with the state's electronic laboratory reporting system.
"There have been problems with the state’s electronic laboratory reporting system in the past and today it appears the system is reporting artificially low numbers to several counties," Jenkins said in a prepared statement. "In the meantime, there is little reason to believe that if the full numbers were reported, they would be different than the trend we’ve been seeing for the last several days or the projections that the medical modelers have made for North Texas."
The state health department confirmed to NBC 5 Tuesday afternoon that they had an issue importing lab results on Sunday and that though the issue was resolved on Monday it has delayed getting some of those results out to local jurisdictions.
Over the last four days, Dallas County has added more than 5,300 new COVID-19 cases, the apparent beginning of a trend that Jenkins warned could bring more than 2,000 cases per day on average before Thanksgiving.
"This is indicative of the explosive nature of the spike that we are now in and it is imperative to public health and our economy that we stop the in-home get-togethers and trips to restaurants and bars that are largely responsible for this spike," Jenkins said on Monday.
Jenkins and Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley spoke with NBC 5 on Monday and said they've long been concerned about the spread of the virus over the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Both spoke with NBC 5 in a special interview to share their concerns.
Of the cases reported Tuesday, the county said 457 were confirmed cases and 188 were probable (antigen test) cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the county from March to 111,174 and the number of probable (antigen test) cases to 10,186. None of the new cases were reported to be part of a backlog and, rather, indicate all currently active cases in the county.
The latest victims of the virus include a woman in her 60s from Dallas, a man in his 60s from Farmers Branch and two women in their 70s from Dallas. All of the victims had been critically ill in area hospitals and all but the man in Farmers Branch had underlying health conditions.
County officials said Monday there have been 1,147 confirmed deaths in the county attributed to the virus and another 20 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.
Overnight Monday there were 691 patients with COVID-19 in Dallas County hospitals. Jenkins warned hospitalizations are expected to continue to rise rapidly within both the county and region and that hospitals are concerned about the spread and strain on their staff.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen to record levels in North Texas with the Texas Department of State Health Services reporting Monday 2,143 hospitalizations on Sunday. Monday's numbers from the DSHS should be released Tuesday afternoon.
The hospitalization number for Tuesday from the DFW Hospital Council is a little higher at 2,264 patients -- 45 more people than they reported on Monday. COVID-19 patients in DFW represent 14.48% of available beds and 33.5% of ICU patients, according to the council.
Statewide, the DSHS said there are more than 7,400 Texans hospitalized with the virus on Monday.
The county added that the provisional 7-day average for new confirmed and probable cases by date of a test collection for CDC week 45 has increased to 958, which is a rate of 37.4 daily new cases per 100,000 residents -- up 7.4 from the week before. During the same week, a provisional total of 843 confirmed and probable cases were diagnosed in school children between the ages of 5 and 17 -- an increase of 37% from the week before.
"While the choice is yours on how you conduct yourself, it is not fair to say that the risk you take is yours and yours alone as the impact of increased exposure for individuals has an impact on others," Jenkins said Monday.