Dallas County is reporting a record number of new COVID-19 cases Thursday, nearly 300, along with the county's 250th death.
The latest death includes a DeSoto man in his 60s who had underlying health conditions and had been critically ill in an area hospital. Further information about the man will not be released due to privacy regulations.
The 285 new cases announced Thursday are the highest single-day total confirmed by the county yet and brings the county's total number of cases to 11,243. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, an estimated 6,687 people in the county have recovered from the virus.
"Today we saw the highest number of new cases on record for COVID-19. We’ve seen a significant increase this week for the average number of daily cases from last week and it’s up to all of to flatten the curve," said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins on Twitter.
Jenkins said it's crucial that people continue to avoid crowds, maintain physical distancing and wear cloth coverings over the mouth and nose. He acknowledged recent protests around the death of George Floyd, and said the county and Dallas Mavericks partnered together to secure 1,000 hand sanitizers and masks that were given out to community organizers to share with protesters who need either item of protection.
"I've got to tell you, as a parent and just as an American, I really appreciate the spirit of these peaceful protesters, and it's not lost on me as I'm up here talking to you about the dangers of COVID-19, the risk that a lot of them are taking," Jenkins said during his news conference.
The county judge did encourage protesters and police officers who have been out at the protests to all get tested for the coronavirus.
Dr. Philip Huang the director of Dallas County Health and Human Services said he too is worried for the community's health.
"It is concerning when you have hundreds or thousands of people that are, in that close proximity. Certainly many are wearing masks, it looks like, or face coverings, but not everyone, and when you have settings where a lot of people are chanting and then some droplets spread, t that's the way we know that the infection has spread. So it's definitely concerning," Huang said.
Jenkins also announced they reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to obtain a 1,000 additional tests a day until the end of June.
Parkland Hospital will set up confirmed it's partnering with the county, city and federal government to administer the tests.
"As Dallas County’s public health system, Parkland is continuing to target our COVID-19 outreach efforts to southern Dallas County where the need is greatest. Parkland is partnering with Dallas County Health and Human Services, the City of Dallas, and the federal government to set-up two additional walk-up testing sites," said Michael Malaise, Senior Vice President, Communications and External Affairs, Parkland Health & Hospital System in a statement.
He said the walk-up sites will operate Monday through Saturday and will be open to the public. Locations will be a finalized and announced within the next 24 hours.
Jenkins said the county has received $10 million and will hire 260 contact tracers to keep up with positive COVID-19 cases.
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) and corresponding guidelines for activities during our COVID-19 response.
Suspected COVID-19 hospitalizations, ICU Admissions, and ER visits continue to remain flat in Dallas County according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council.
"Those numbers have been still flat, it's plateaued, and haven't seen a significant increase, but we haven't seen, the 14 day decrease that we'd love to see," Huang said.
DCHHS said they are continuing to see a sustained daily census of about 300 COVID-19 patients in Dallas County hospitals over the past two weeks, the county health department said. Additionally, we are seeing a sustained number of individuals presenting to Dallas County hospital emergency rooms with suspected COVID-19 symptoms.
Approximately 22% of emergency room visits in Dallas County for a 24-hour period ending Tuesday, June 2, representing some 427 patients, presented to Dallas County emergency room with COVID-19 symptoms.
DCHHS said Thursday 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.