Dallas County tied the previous single-day high of 253 new cases of COVID-19 and confirmed two more deaths Monday, and while Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says there's evidence the line may be flattening he cautioned it's too early to say if the county is at or near the peak.
The latest to die after becoming infected with COVID-19 include a woman in her 60s who was a resident of a long-term care facility in the Seagoville and a woman in her 80s who was a resident of a long-term care facility in the City of Dallas.
Both women died at the facilities where they lived.
Over the last seven days, Dallas County has averaged about 250 new cases per day. Jenkins acknowledged the numbers have been flat, but said it's too early to say for sure if the county has hit its peak.
"Today we tie for the most number of positive cases in Dallas County. The last seven days have been flat. It's too early to call this a plateau at the peak, but that would be consistent with the medical models from early April done before the governor's orders reopening business," said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. "It's very important that you continue following the tenets of Safer at Home. Avoid crowds. Maintain six-foot distance. Wear a cloth covering when at businesses or on public transportation. Use good hygiene."
The deaths announced Monday mark the 80th in the city of Dallas, the first in Seagoville and the 144th and 145th in Dallas County. The additional cases brings the county's total number of positive cases to 6,123.
Dallas County does not report recoveries from COVID-19 because it lacks the manpower to follow up with thousands of patients, however, the Texas Department of State Health Services posts an estimated number of recoveries on its site and lists 78,164 for Dallas County as of Saturday, Oct. 10. Using data supplied by the state, there are an estimated 6,120 active COVID-19 cases in the county.
Jenkins said Monday afternoon forecasting models shown to the public in April showed the peak may occur in late April or early May and that the flattening may indicate that is taking place.
"It is hard to predict what a virus will do and the models didn't take into account the increased activity from all of the openings that have taken place in the last three weeks," Jenkins said, cautioning that it will take more time to be sure the curve has flattened.
Jenkins unveiled Monday afternoon the county's four-color chart indicating the COVID-19 risk level. Jenkins said the county is currently in the red, under "Stay Home Stay Safe." Once there are 14 days of declining cases in the ICU, Jenkins said the county would move to orange under "Extreme Caution." Jenkins added that a move to "Extreme Caution" is at least 14 days away since they have not yet had a single day of COVID-19 declines in the ICUs.
After orange comes yellow where people would again be encouraged to take vacations, Jenkins said. When you get to green, you're at our new normal until a COVID-19 vaccine is readily available.
Jenkins said the chart was put together by a public health committee of medical specialists to advise people on what experts believe people should do to curtail the spread of the virus and is not bound by what people are allowed to do under state or federal public health orders.
"It's your decision. This is a guidance. These are recommendations from doctors, these aren't orders. People can disregard this and go do the opposite of what the doctors tell them to do," Jenkins said, cautioning that going against the recommendations may continue to put people at risk.
Of cases requiring hospitalization who reported employment, the county reported 79% 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, the county reported 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.
Of the 145 total deaths reported to date, the county reported over a third have been associated with long-term care facilities.