Dallas County is reporting another 394 new COVID-19 cases along with four more deaths and another increase in hospitalizations Friday, according to county officials.
The county has now eclipsed 16,000 cases of the virus since testing began in March. There have been 311 deaths attributed in the county to the virus, which has now become the third leading cause of death in the county according to Dr. Philip Huang, the director of Dallas County Health and Human Services. The first two are 1) diseases of the heart and 2) malignant neoplasm (cancer).
The four latest victims to die after contracting the virus were from Dallas, Grand Prairie and Farmers Branch and ranged in age from their 30s to their 70s.
- A Grand Prairie man in his 30s who had been critically ill in an area hospital and had underlying high-risk health conditions.
- A Dallas man in his 50s who had been critically ill in an area hospital and did not have underlying high-risk health conditions.
- A man in his 60s who was a resident of a long-term care facility in Farmers Branch. He had been critically ill in an area hospital and had underlying high-risk health conditions.
- A Dallas man in his 70s who had been critically ill in an area hospital and had underlying high-risk health conditions.
The 394 new cases reported Friday is the second-highest number of new COVID-19 cases ever reported in the county, second only to the 413 cases announced two days ago. It's also the 10th straight day where cases have been above 300. The average number of new cases this week is 351 per day. Last week the county averaged 292 new cases per day and a week before that it was 251 cases per day.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, an estimated 9,893 people (through Friday) in the county have recovered from the virus leaving an estimated 5,752 known patients fighting the infection.
Instead of focusing on cases, however, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said that the real focus should be hospitalizations. Jenkins said the number of people hospitalized in Dallas County was up again overnight to more than 450 patients. Within the last few weeks, county hospitals were treating between 250-300 COVID-19 patients.
Huang said Friday that in the last 48 hours hospitals have recorded more ER visits for COVID-like symptoms than ever before.
"Think of hospitalizations as the apex, the top of the iceberg," Jenkins said Friday afternoon. "There are a lot more people now out in our community that could get you sick. That's why we're moving into a more aggressive stance to protect you from COVID."
The more aggressive stance Jenkins is referring to is an order approved by the Dallas County Commissioners Court Friday that requires all customers and employees wear face coverings while inside businesses in the county. If people refuse, the business could face a fine.
Jenkins is hopeful the mask policy will help curb the spread of the virus saying Friday that in the 15 states where they were mandated there were declines in infections. Jenkins added that in 31 other states where they were required in businesses only, like in Dallas County, there was also evidence it helped curb the spread of the virus.
With 3,148 people being treated in Texas hospitals for COVID-19 Friday, the state hit a new record for hospitalizations for the eighth straight day. Since June 1 the number of available ICU beds has dropped from 1,784 to 1,443 while the number of people hospitalized has increased from 1,756 to the record set today.
Jenkins said Friday if people get sick this week or next week there are enough hospital beds available, but that the ICU capacity is diminishing.
Additionally, the percentage of emergency room visits for COVID-19 like symptoms in Dallas County for a 24-hour period ending Wednesday, June 17 remained high at 586 visits, representing 27% of all visits according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council.
DCHHS said local health experts use hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and ER visits as three of the key indicators in determining the COVID-19 Risk Level (color-coded risk seen below) and corresponding guidelines for activities during our COVID-19 response.
"Please avoid crowds, maintain six-foot distancing when out, wear a cloth face covering, and use strong hygiene. It’s up to all of us to flatten the curve. There are many other important matters in your life and in the world right now, but we must keep our health and the health of our community at the top of our minds as we address those other important matters. The best way to keep you and your family safe is 'Stay Home, Save Lives,'" said Jenkins.
To date, of cases requiring hospitalization who reported employment, over 80% have been critical infrastructure workers, with a broad range of affected occupational sectors, including healthcare, transportation, food and agriculture, public works, finance, communications, clergy, first responders and other essential functions.
Of cases requiring hospitalization, two-thirds have been under 65 years of age, and about half do not have high-risk chronic health conditions. Diabetes has been an underlying high-risk health condition reported in about a third of all hospitalized patients with COVID-19.
The county has been reporting for several weeks now that more than a third of the deaths related to COVID-19 have been among residents of long-term care facilities.