Health officials in Denton County on Saturday reported 310 new COVID-19 cases as the percentage of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus surpassed Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's threshold of 15% of all patients.
Of the latest cases, Denton County Public Health officials said 186 are active while the remaining 124 have already cleared recovery protocol. The number of active cases increases the countywide total for COVID-19 cases to 21,453.
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DCPH confirmed they have 125 lab-confirmed COVID-19 patients in Denton County hospitals. Denton County hospitals are at 71% occupancy overall (including COVID-19 patients) and the ICUs are at 81.2% occupancy (including COVID-19 patients) with 16 beds available.
Of all hospitalized patients in Denton County, 15.4% are being treated for the coronavirus -- the first time the county's rate has eclipsed 15%.
Denton County is in Trauma Service Area E under Abbott's executive order, however for more safety guidelines to kick in, the entire region, which includes 20 counties, must reach 15% capacity and stay there for a week. Individual counties cannot act on their own.
Even with the number of cases mounting, Denton County's public health director said it was getting more difficult to convince residents to follow safety guidelines.
"I'll tell you, as a public health leader and as a public health practitioner, I'm running out of new and creative and innovative ways to say the same thing," DCPH Director Dr. Matt Richardson said.
Denton County is also reporting 16,690 estimated recoveries and 4,617 estimated active cases.
Officials confirmed no new deaths related to the virus, keeping the county's total number of fatalities related to the virus at 146.
Richardson urged caution as many families prepare to gather for Thanksgiving.
"If you're going to get together with family that are not being careful, you've got to objectively assess your health and the health of your immediate family and if that exposure is worth it," he said. "And that's a value judgement for every family and I hate that that's what 2020 has brought for us."
Denton County Public Health is providing a free drive-thru COVID-19 testing center on Tuesday at UNT's Discovery Park at 3940 N. Elm Steet in Denton. Eligible community members must reside in Denton County, pre-register by calling 940-349-2585, and have not previously tested positive for COVID-19. Pre-registration is required and appointments are available starting at 8 a.m.
Denton County is also providing free testing through the county health department. For times and locations, visit DentonCounty.gov/COVID19testing.
To minimize the spread of COVID-19, DCPH asks all community members to continue to:
- Maintain at least six feet of physical distance in public settings and when around individuals outside of the household.
- Wear masks or face coverings, which should cover both the nose and mouth, in public settings and when around individuals outside of the household.
- Wash and/or sanitize hands frequently.
- Stay home if you are symptomatic, have recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19, or have pending COVID-19 lab result.
Collin County, which uses the Texas Department of State Health Services for its reporting, added 322 new COVID-19 cases Saturday.
In total, the county has reported 22,691 coronavirus cases, 234 deaths and 20,242 recoveries.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.