Health care workers continue to work around the clock as the number of COVID-19 patients doesn't seem to slow down.
"It's a challenge every single day. We have more patients here now, with COVID than we have at any other time during this crisis if we count up who is here with active COVID and who is still recovering from COVID," said Dr. Joseph Chang, the Chief Medical Officer for Parkland Health and Hospital System.
He said they're treating around 250 patients, which Chang said is 50% higher than their peak back in July.
"So we are definitely struggling with that volume, on top of our usual winter volume that we get from all of folks who actually don't have COVID," said Chang.
He said the other thing that he finds concerning is the number of asymptomatic people in the community.
"Since we are testing all admissions for COVID, even if they're not here for COVID. We know that there's about a 10% asymptomatic carrier rate in our community right now. And that's also very significant. What that means is, one out of every 10 people walking around you who actually don't show symptoms, one out of 10 of those are actually carrying around and able to spread COVID-19, so the numbers are really scary for the entire area and our hospitals specific," said Chang.
He said they've had to hire traveling staff from across the country, like nurses, to help with the influx of patients, especially in the ICU.
"The other thing that we've done is of course we have asked the state for help in terms of again nursing and respiratory technicians and we are grateful for the number of people that they have been able to send our way," said Chang.
Dallas County reported a record amount of new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday with 3,549 additional positive cases.
Want to Get on a Vaccine Waitlist?
County health departments have launched waitlists for adults 16 years old and over.
You can register to recieve the vaccination in Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties. Links are below:
You do not need to be a resident of the county to register for a COVID-19 vaccine in that county -- registration is open to anyone in Texas. For those without internet access, Tarrant County is also taking registrations by phone at 817-248-6299. In Dallas County, call the DCHHS vaccine hotline at 1-855-IMMUNE9 (1-855-466-8639). In Denton County, call 940-349-2585.
For a more detailed breakdown of who is included in each priority group in Texas, see this page from the Texas DSHS.
The Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council said on Wednesday there were 4,019 people in the hospital for COVID-19. That's a slight decrease of about 50 people. Currently, there are 63 available staffed adult ICU beds. COVID-19 adult ICU patients are 50.72% of the total ICU patients.
Remaining available staffed ICU beds according to Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council:
- Dallas 20
- Tarrant 13
- Collin 11
- Denton 6
- Kaufman 2
- Ellis 1
- Wise 4
- Other 6
As predicted, health professionals believe the increase in numbers is attributed to the holiday season and people gathering in groups with loved ones and friends without masks.
"You know, we have seen the surge after these holiday periods. I mean, thankfully we don't have any major holidays coming up soon. So hopefully, that means that our numbers will get better, but again it's because of our behaviors because of all the gathering. Please, please, please do the things that we've asked you to do, and that's going to help us more than anything else," said Chang.
With the vaccine become more available, he's hopeful that will also curb the numbers.
On Monday, Dallas County opened a mass vaccination site for residents in and outside of the county.
The state also announced six large vaccination hubs that will open up in North Texas. The current focus remains to inoculate health care workers, people over 65 and those with preexisting conditions.
Chang said if at least 85% of the population is immunized, the community would be protected.
"The light is just now beginning to be seen at the end of the tunnel with these vaccines. Now, this is where we've got to go. We've got to as a community comes together, continue to protect each other, get the vaccine, so that as that accumulates, we can actually get to the end of this dark tunnel," said Chang.
He said currently Parkland is focused on vaccinating their current patients, which is more than one million people. However, he said if they get more vaccines from the state that become available, then they would probably join the efforts to vaccinate non-Parkland patients.
*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.