An update to the latest UTSW COVID-19 forecast shows that while hospitalizations for the virus are at an all-time high in DFW, the trajectory of new cases in Dallas and Tarrant counties could be very different.
Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas released their latest COVID-19 forecast models Tuesday and an updated version on Thursday which predicted the new daily infections in Dallas County are expected to decrease with the continued enforcement of current prevention measures. In Tarrant County, however, daily infections are expected to climb significantly under the same conditions.
"Spread of infection is not uniform across the North Texas region, and the trajectories of Dallas and Tarrant counties have diverged," UTSW said in the report (found at the bottom of this page). "While Dallas County hospitalizations are expected to stay flat at their current high levels until Christmas, Tarrant County hospitalizations are expected to grow another 20% in the same time frame."
Through Friday, Dallas County's 7-day and 14-day averages of confirmed COVID-19 cases are 1,592 and 1,497, per day, respectively. UTSW's forecast through Christmas is roughly 1,700 new infections per day. UTSW expects hospitalizations in Dallas County, which have increased just 4% over the past two weeks, to reach between 620-1,060 concurrent cases by Dec. 29.
The model forecasts a different story in Tarrant County, however, where the 7-day and 14-day averages of confirmed COVID-19 cases is 1,322 and 1,250 cases per day, respectively, through Friday. The model (found at the bottom of this page) forecasts that by Christmas Day, daily infections in Tarrant County could reach 2,500 per day. Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in the county, which have increased by 13% in the past two weeks and totaled more than 1,000 on both Thursday and Friday, are expected to be between 980-1,650 by Dec. 29.
The UTSW model predicts that without increased attempts to flatten the curve the trajectory of cases in Tarrant County will continue to climb.
With that in mind, UTSW urged those making holiday plans around Christmas to follow common prevention measures that curb the spread of disease due to the high level of infections and hospitalizations in the area. Adding to the risk of infection is colder weather pushing outdoor gatherings indoors.
Those common prevention measures include wearing masks, staying at home as much as possible, physical distancing while in public and frequently washing your hands.
UTSW COVID-19 Models
In their report, UTSW cautions "model-building is an iterative process with inherent uncertainty in its predictions. It facilitates planning and should not be the sole basis for policies or management decisions for any emerging infection."
The latest UTSW model is created using real patient data received from the Dallas and Tarrant county health departments, area hospitals and health systems, through Dec. 15 while the model released Dec. 15 used data through Dec. 11. They also remind that people arriving at the hospital today were likely infected around two weeks ago. UTSW re-runs their models and refines the graphs whenever they receive new data.