Dallas County Concerns About Rising COVID-19 Numbers

Emergency Room visits nearly the same as the summer peak

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Dallas County officials sounded an alarm Tuesday about rising COVID-19 numbers, hoping for greater public cooperation with disease prevention precautions.

Reports from other Texas cities of hospital and morgue space shortages had Dallas County Commissioners worried Tuesday.

“Two weeks from now, where are we going to be, listening to what's going on around the state,” Commissioner Theresa Daniel asked.

Dr. Philip Huang, the Dallas County Health Director, showed commissioners a chart of daily emergency room visits the past few months. It showed a recent increase growing close to the summer peak that Huang hoped to avoid.

The health director blames COVID-19 fatigue for the rising numbers.

“I think everyone is very concerned with the trends. I know we’ve also been hearing about increases in daycare centers and some of the long-term care facilities, some of it really reflecting the COVID fatigue. Just the impression, people aren’t being as effective with the infection control,” Dr. Huang said.

Positive test result numbers fluctuate and many test results are still not being reported to the health department. It makes tracing contacts for those cases impossible and makes the correct number of cases inaccurate.

“We really don't know. And these hospitals, these beds, are the only a gauge, as far as I'm concerned,” said Commissioner John Wiley Price.

Dallas area hospitals and the county medical examiner have sufficient bed and morgue space at the present time, according to the health director. But he said they could be exhausted if residents don’t increase the use of disease precautions, including masks, social distancing, limited size gatherings and frequent hand washing.

“The community has done tremendous work thus far. We've shown that we can slow this down. We've seen the declines when we all do it, when we all adhere to these things,” Dr. Huang said.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins urged caution about the size of holiday gatherings.

“When we normally come together and sit around a communal table to give thanks, you celebrate those in smaller groups,” he said.

It is a holiday season like no other.

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