Dallas County Health and Human Services reports another 100 positive cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, including the county's 14th and 15th deaths.
The latest victims of the virus include a man in his 50s who was a resident of Mesquite and a woman in her 80s who was a resident of Garland. They were both critically ill in area hospitals before they passed, but it's not clear if they had any ongoing, chronic health conditions prior to being infected with COVID-19.
The latest number of confirmed cases bring the county's total number of infected people to 731.
"We’re beginning to see the curve rise and we all must do our part to exercise personal responsibility," said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. "This is to be expected. It’s not a cause of a panic."
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County officials said the number of ICU hospitalizations from COVID-19 in the last week exceeded the peak week of ICU hospitalizations from influenza during the 2019-2020 season.
Dr. Phillip Huang with the Dallas County Health and Human Services says the county is still in tracing mode when it comes to the virus. That includes tracking where new cases have been and who they've been in contact with.
"This is such a critical time for the physical distancing," said Huang.
The city of Dallas released data Tuesday showing the number of hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators in the county compared to the number currently in use. Those statistics are below (it's worth mentioning the numbers are from a snapshot in time and fluctuate throughout the day).
Cindy Zolnierek is a nurse and CEO of the Texas Nurses Association. She says while cases rise, those on the front lines of fighting the virus are desperate to see the curve flatten. More cases means an even bigger strain on the limited supply of protective equipment.
"There’s some anxiety and concern. I think in part because as nurses we’re taught to use a mask once and then you throw it away," said Zolnierek.
Now though, she said new practices are recommended to make supplies last. She said it's not the preferred or ideal practice.
"The surgical masks are being reused or worn all day long, worn over several days to try to preserve them unless they’re visibly soiled," she said.
Judge Jenkins says he’s on the phone lines constantly trying to get healthcare workers what they need.
"We’re all just working like heck to get the PPEs to get the ventilators, trying to catch up on our capacity before the curve overtakes us," said Jenkins.
As for testing, the Dallas County sites are currently limited in the number of tests performed each day. Jenkins had a message to the federal government concerning testing capacity.
"We need you to increase the testing limit. We are closing our testing by midday because we’re bumping up against your artificial limit," he said. "So I’d like to see that testing increased a lot. To at least 400 tests a day. I’d like that to happen very soon."
Of those hospitalized, 59 people were admitted to intensive care units, and 42 received mechanical ventilation, according to Dallas County.
Here are the aggregate totals for Tuesday as reported by the eight hospitals:
- Total beds: 2,868
- Beds occupied: 1,542
- Total ICU beds: 361
- ICU beds occupied: 204
- Total ventilators: 342
- Ventilators in use: 139
Dallas County is only releasing detailed information about the cities where those infected by COVID-19 live on Tuesdays and Fridays.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.