Positive COVID-19 Tests Hit 14.2%, Hospitalizations Up

Positive COVID-19 tests have jumped from 11.3% to 14.2%, and hospitalizations are up. We look at the latest statistics, as well as early voting totals and an urgent missing persons case in today’s bullet points.

  • Positive COVID-19 tests hit 14.2%, and hospitalizations are up;
  • Dallas County surpasses previous early voting record;
  • Family and friends looking for missing Dallas man.
Positive COVID-19 Tests Hit 14.2%, Hospitalizations Up

A total of 1,884 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus were reported by Dallas County health officials between Friday and Sunday, and an additional 309 probable cases were reported, along with six deaths.

On Friday, the county reported 612 cases (533 confirmed and 79 probable) and four confirmed deaths; on Saturday, 778 cases (648 confirmed and 130 probable) and one death; and on Sunday, 803 cases (703 confirmed and 100 probable)  and one death.

Among the dead are a Dallas man in his 50s, a Dallas man in his 60s, a Balch Springs woman in her 60s, a Dallas man in his 70s, a Seagoville man in his 80s, and a Dallas woman in her 80s. All had underlying high-risk health conditions.

“The average number of cases for this week is 642, an increase from last week,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Saturday. “This week we sustained a total of 16 deaths. Our numbers for the most recent CDC week ending on 10/17 have once again gone up, and our positivity rate for COVID-19 tests is now above 14%. 

“We must curve the current spike before it becomes a wave that further endangers public health and the economy for the holiday season and up into the spring. We all know what to do; we just need to do it. Wear your mask, avoid crowds, maintain six food distance, and wash your hands. It’s up to all of us to flatten the curve now before this spike gets any worse.”

The county said that the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations Friday was 472 patients (up from 370 last Friday). Emergency room visits for COVID-19 symptoms represented about 18% of all ER visits, according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council

UT Southwestern’s latest forecast projects that by Nov. 3, Dallas County hospitals could see concurrent hospitalizations rise to between 420 and 770 cases, with roughly 1,200 new cases per day on average. 

“Hospitalizations in North Texas have risen significantly,” the researchers said. “The average volume for the past week was 91% higher than the most recent low in late September and 100% higher than the average volume in May.

“In Dallas and Tarrant counties, both hospitalizations and the number of patients in the ICU are projected to increase over the next two weeks,” they continued. “Both counties are expected to return to early-August levels of hospitalizations over the next two weeks.”

According to trackers provided by Dallas ISD and Highland Park ISD, cases of COVID-19 are cropping up at schools. On Friday, Dallas ISD’s COVID-19 dashboard indicated that there were now 438 cases throughout the district – 164 among campus staff, 37 among central staff, and 237 among students.

For comparison, the district reported 278 cases the Friday before, and 126 the Friday before that. Of the 126, 112 were campus staff, 20 were central staff, and 146 were students.

Walnut Hill Elementary has 15 cases (up from 13), Thomas Jefferson High School has 12 (up from 10), Sudie Williams Talented and Gifted has two cases (up from one), Medrano Middle School has one, W.T. White High School has 10 (up from five), Pershing Elementary has one case, Withers Elementary has two cases, Gooch Elementary has two cases, Kramer Elementary has two cases,  Preston Hollow Elementary has one case, Dealey Montessori has two cases, Marsh Middle School has one, Benjamin Franklin Middle School has two, and Hillcrest High School has 11 cases (up from four).

Highland Park ISD is reporting three staff cases and three student cases. Neither district provides information on how many students and staff have quarantined for 14 days due to classroom exposure to the virus. 

Dallas County reported Friday that a provisional total of 441 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in school-aged children (5 to 17 years) during CDC week 42 – the week ending Oct. 107, an over two-fold increase from the numbers of children diagnosed in this age group a month ago.

In the county’s Oct. 23 aggregate report, the county broke down probable cases for children ages 5 to 17 by city. Dallas children in this age group with confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 numbered at 206 for the week ending Oct. 17 and 210 for the week ending Oct. 10. Highland Park children numbered two for the week ending Oct. 17, and two for the week ending Oct. 10. University Park children numbered four for the week ending Oct. 17 and five for the week ending Oct. 10.

For the week ending Oct. 18, the state Texas Education Agency reported that 12,765 students tested positive for COVID-19, and 8,248 staff members, compared to the week before with 9,719 students and 6,454 staff members.

Dallas County reported in its Oct. 23 aggregate report that most confirmed cases continue to be between the ages of 18 and 60, with the 18-40 age group accounting for 47% of the cases, and the 41-64 age group accounting for another 34% of the total cases.

Close contact or community transmission continues to be the biggest risk factor for contracting COVID-19, accounting for more than 94% of all cases.

Of the testing done, positive cases accounted for 14.2% as of Oct. 17, with 978 positives coming from 6,880 tests. Testing for the week prior found that positive cases accounted for 11.3% of all testing.

Nine percent of all cases ended up hospitalized – 23% ended up in intensive care, and 13% ended up on a ventilator.

In a city-by-city breakdown, Dallas still comes in with the highest number of cases – 47,613 confirmed cases and 2,427 probable cases. Highland Park has 110 confirmed cases and another 45 probable cases, and University Park has 323 confirmed cases (up from 303), and 295 probable cases.

Dallas County Surpasses Early Voting Record 

Friday voters opting to cast their ballot early surpassed previous records, and Jenkins said he is optimistic that the county will blow past 600,000 voters before early voting ends on Oct. 30.

Between in-person votes and mail-in ballots, 563,148 votes were cast by Friday evening. By Saturday evening, the county reported that 521,783 in-person ballots had been cast.

Sunday afternoon, Jenkins said that 63,534 had voted by mail of the 100,059 ballots that are outstanding, but that 4,500 had opted to vote in person instead, and canceled their mail ballots at their polling location. 

There are, according to Dallas County, 1,403,004 registered voters in the county, which means that by Friday night, about 40% of all registered voters had cast a ballot. For comparison’s sake, 770,590 voters total cast ballots in 2016.

Family, Friends Looking for Missing Dallas Man

James Alan White, a KPMG executive who lives in Dallas, went to the gym Thursday morning and hasn’t been seen since.

According to the Dallas Voice, White left the home he shares with his husband, Rusty Jenkins, early Thursday morning, and was last seen at the LA Fitness City Place at 5 a.m. It is believed he left the gym around 6 a.m.

He missed a 7:30 a.m. conference call he was supposed to participate in from home. It is believed that he did not return home at all.

White was driving a loaned black Porsche Macan with dealer plates from Park Place Motors. 

A missing persons report has been filed, and anyone with information should call the Dallas Police Department’s missing persons squad at 214-671-4268, and ask to speak to the detective assigned to case 188623-2020.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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