Health officials in Dallas County on Saturday reported the county's highest single-day total of new coronavirus cases yet, as hospitalizations rise and several schools return to virtual instruction.
The county reported 1,543 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday and the death of a Dallas man in his 90s who had been critically ill in an area hospital. The man had underlying health conditions.
Of the cases reported Saturday, 1,454 were confirmed and 89 were probable, which means an antigen test confirmed the result. Since March, Dallas County Health and Human Services has reported 107,741 confirmed cases and 9,685 probable cases, or those confirmed by antigen tests.
"Not including the week we reported a very large backlog in cases from the state's reporting system, the numbers that we have seen this week are the highest weekly average that we have seen thus far for new COVID (sic) cases and [Saturday's] total is the highest single-day total that we have seen thus far," Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement.
The dates Jenkins referenced are Aug. 16-17, when Dallas County reported 5,361 and 1,850 cases, respectively. DCHHS reported more than 1,000 cases on 18 straight days from July 3-20, but never eclipsed 1,400 cases in a single day.
Jenkins noted for the week ending Nov. 7, the county added an average of 958 COVID-19 cases per day. Last week, that number rose to 1,131.
On Friday, Jenkins sent a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) asking that the governor make changes to state guidelines or grant county judges the authority to do so in their jurisdictions in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Dallas County has reported 1,141 confirmed deaths related to COVID-19 and 20 probable deaths. According to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services, 92,286 people have recovered from the coronavirus in Dallas County.
Last week, 10 schools in Dallas County were forced to close and return to remote learning due to cases of COVID-19 on campuses, and health officials said 843 school-aged children tested positive for the virus in the week ending Nov. 7 -- up 37% from the week ending Oct. 31.
"What happens in the coming days as we approach Thanksgiving and the days after is dependent on each of you making good choices: telecommute to the fullest extent possible, stop visiting in one another's homes and avoid crowds during this time of extreme spread," Jenkins said.
The positivity rate in Dallas County rose to 15.3% among symptomatic patients at county hospitals, as the percentage of emergency room visits for symptoms of COVID-19 reached 20%, according to DCHHS.
Of confirmed cases that have required hospitalization, more than two-thirds have been in patients under 65 years old, while diabetes has been an underlying health risk in about one-third of hospitalized patients, DCHHS said.
Of the 1,141 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths, DCHHS reported 24% were affiliated with long-term care facilities.
Jenkins urged residents not to be fatigued by COVID-19 guidelines and to return to the measures many residents followed over the summer to curb the rising case counts.
"It is important that all of us do everything we can to talk to the people in our sphere of influence and encourage our families, our employees and our friends to join us in doing the things that the CDC and the local doctors tell us will turn this around," Jenkins said. "We can do this North Texas, but we must do it together and we must do it immediately."
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.