For the second-straight day, Dallas County officials confirm fewer than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases but again warn that the lower numbers could be due to a reporting issue from the state health department. Meanwhile, the county is also reporting 17 new deaths related to the virus, the most in more than a month.
"I caution these numbers appear to still be low due to lower than expected numbers from the state's electronic laboratory system," Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement Wednesday. "We also have the grim task of reporting 17 deaths ranging in age from a postpartum mother in her 30s to persons in their 80s."
According to the county's daily statement, most of the victims had been critically ill in hospital ICUs and had underlying health conditions.
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 week, Dallas County has added 6,583 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 if steps are not taken to curtail the spread of the virus.
Of the cases reported Wednesday, the county said 786 were confirmed cases and 161 were probable (antigen test) cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the county from March to 111,960 and the number of probable (antigen test) cases to 10,347.
County officials said Wednesday there have been 1,162 confirmed deaths in the county attributed to the virus and another 22 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 Tuesday there were 660 patients with COVID-19 in Dallas County hospitals, according to the county's statement Wednesday. Jenkins warned previously that 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, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services. On Wednesday, the state reported nearly 2,300 people hospitalized in North Texas with COVID-19. The DFW Hospital Council said Wednesday COVID-19 patients in DFW represent 14% of available beds and 34% of ICU patients.
Statewide, the DSHS said there are nearly 8,000 Texans hospitalized with the virus on Wednesday.
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 1,078, which is a rate of 40.9 daily new cases per 100,000 residents. During the same week, a provisional total of 919 confirmed and probable cases were diagnosed in school children between the ages of 5 and 17 -- a three-fold increase from five weeks earlier.
"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.