Health officials in Dallas County on Saturday reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases for the third consecutive day and nine more coronavirus-related deaths, as Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins continued to urge residents to take steps to slow the spread of the virus.
Of the cases reported Saturday, the county said 1,741 were confirmed cases and 442 were probable (antigen test) cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the county from March to 117,151 and the number of probable (antigen test) cases to 11,173.
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The nine victims reported Saturday were all residents of the city of Dallas, according to Dallas County Health and Human Services. They included a man in his 40s, two women in their 50s, a man in his 50s, a man in his 60s, two men in their 70s, a woman in her 70s and a woman in her 80s. All nine had been hospitalized and had underlying health conditions.
County officials said Saturday there have been 1,184 confirmed deaths in the county attributed to the virus and another 26 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.
Erika Stilwell, a mother of three in Dallas, contracted COVID-19 in late July. She said she hopes her story would encourage more people to take the virus seriously.
"I am not the same mom I used to be. I can’t do as much," Stilwell said. "I really don’t think it’s like the flu, and I get really frustrated when I hear people say that because it may be like the flu for someone, but you don’t know what it’s going to do long term."
Stilwell said she was hospitalized for three days, but she was still dealing with the effects to this day.
"Since then, I now have COPD and sleep apnea. I’ve had to do several sleep studies. I’m on tons of medications. Basically, my lungs just have not healed at all. No energy," she said. "I almost have to pick and choose what I do each day because it wears me out so much. Just making the bed, I can’t. It takes my breath away."
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 95,859 Dallas County residents have recovered from COVID-19.
Over the last seven days, Dallas County reported 49 COVID-19-related deaths and an average of 1,557 new cases per day.
"We've now heard from the local doctors, President Trump’s task force, and the CDC all saying the same thing: celebrate Thanksgiving with those that you live with and forgo larger family get-togethers at this time of unprecedented spread," Jenkins said. "Stop interacting with crowds and consider grocery curbside pickup and delivery."
DCHHS also reported a new spike in cases at long-term care facilities in the county. Over the last month, the county has seen more than 850 coronavirus cases spread across 84 different facilities, including 304 staff members. The number represents the most active outbreaks in long-term care facilities since the start of the pandemic in March, according to the county.
"It's up to all of us to flatten the curve and renew our strength to protect ourselves, our community and our economy for a little while longer until the vaccine can help put this dark chapter behind us," Jenkins said. "I know this is disappointing news for Thanksgiving but we have so much to be thankful for. We must focus on what we're thankful for and protecting it for the future and not give in to momentary weakness or selfishness that will lead to bad decisions. We can do this North Texas if we all band together in the spirit of courage and camaraderie."
The county added that the provisional 7-day average for new confirmed and probable cases by date of a test collection for CDC week 46 has increased to 1,321, which is a rate of 50.1 daily new cases per 100,000 residents. During the same week, a provisional total of 1,224 confirmed and probable cases were diagnosed in school children between the ages of 5 and 17 -- a three-fold increase from five weeks earlier.
On Friday, there were 738 patients with COVID-19 in acute care in Dallas County, while the number of emergency room visits for coronavirus-link symptoms rose to 545, or 23% of all such visits, according to DCHHS.