The Dallas County Health Department is reporting 656 new COVID-19 cases Thursday along with four more deaths.
The latest victims include two men in their 80s from Dallas and a man in his 50s from Grand Prairie and a man in his 40s from Cedar Hill. All four had been hospitalized and had underlying high-risk health conditions.
"Our number of new COVID-19 cases continues its trend upward and hospitals and medical modelers are telling us that if we don't change our behavior we will have numbers exceeding 1,000 cases per day going into Thanksgiving," Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a prepared statement Thursday. "It's important that we find fun things to do this Halloween that don't include trick-or-treating or Halloween dances or parties. Consider family activities like pumpkin carving, candy hunts, movie nights, crafting or other activities to make this a meaningful and memorable holiday without increasing the spread of COVID."
"We all know what we need to do, we just need to do it so that we can change the trajectory of where we are going to be this winter..." said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
The provisional 7-day average for new confirmed and probable cases for CDC week 42 was 588 per day, the highest daily average since July. Jenkins said the number of known school-aged children with COVID-19 doubled over the last three weeks from 251 cases to 493 cases and he cautioned that if people don't take steps to curb the spread of the virus medical models indicate the county will once again see new cases numbers over 1,000 per day by Thanksgiving.
According to data from the state health department, hospitalizations in Texas Thursday are nearly 5,600.
Of the 656 cases reported, 565 were confirmed and 91 were probable, according to Dallas County Health and Human Services. DCHHS said 274 of the cases came from the DSHS backlog and all were from this month.
The county has now accumulated 95,402 confirmed cases of the virus since testing began in March. The county said there have been 1,108 confirmed 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.
COVID-19 TRACKING AND TESTING
Are Trick-or-Treating and Voting Dangerous?
Judge Jenkins advised North Texans to avoid trick-or-treating this year, and other similar events, and called them a possible super-spreader activity.
"As we approach the Halloween holiday with cases increasing, it’s important that families make responsible decisions to do things within the family unit and not come into contact with many people outside their home. Doctors strongly encourage all residents to forgo trick or treating, trunk or treating, and Halloween parties and instead focus on candy hunts, Halloween themed family parties or movie nights, pumpkin carving and other things that can be done with the people that you live with. We must get this under control now or we are in for a rough holiday season and winter when the weather forces more people indoors which increases the chance of COVID-19 spread. We can do this North Texas but it’s up to each and every one of us. You’ve brought the numbers down twice before and you can do it again,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said that voting in person in Dallas County is safe and that the county has spent millions of dollars on disinfectants, plexiglass screens and other precautions to ensure that voters are safe. Voters can also see a live, color-coded map showing the approximate wait times at polling locations in Dallas County so that they can see which polls are least crowded and where voting can be done quickly. See the map here.