As local officials monitor a new spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and early voting continues, here’s what you need to know today:
- County reports 391 more COVID-19 cases, two more deaths;
- Dallas County breaks early voting record;
- TxDOT launching traffic safety campaign.
County Reports 391 More COVID-19 Cases, Two More Deaths
Dallas County Health and Human Services Monday reported 498 additional positive cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths for a cumulative total of 93,939 confirmed cases, and 1,101 confirmed deaths.
The county reported 107 additional probable cases Monday for a total of 5,235 probable cases including 14 probable deaths.
Of the 391 new confirmed cases reported Monday, 304 came through the Texas Department of State Health Services’ (DSHS) electronic laboratory reporting (ELR) system, and all are from October.
The additional deaths reported Monday include a Dallas man in his 50s and a Cedar Hill man in his 80s. Both had underlying health conditions.
Of the total confirmed deaths reported to date, about 24% have been associated with long-term care facilities.
The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 has increased to 14.2% of symptomatic patients presenting to area hospitals testing positive in the week ending Oct. 17, the county says.
“We continue to see high numbers of COVID-19 cases in Dallas County and in the region,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. “As the weather turns cooler, and more people gather inside, we have to keep safe practices in mind, including wearing our mask, maintaining six-foot distance and washing our hands frequently.
“Since Dallas County is now in ‘Red’ which means high community risk for COVID-19 transmission, it’s critically important that we follow the ‘stay safe’ guidelines so that we slow the spread of the virus and put ourselves in a better position for the holiday season.”
A provisional total of 441 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in school-aged children between 5 and 17 years during the week ending Oct. 17, an increase from the previous week, the county says.
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 that age group with confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 numbered 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.
Dallas ISD’s COVID-19 dashboard Monday showed there were 480 cases districtwide, including 176 among campus staff, 42 among central staff, and 262 among students.
Walnut Hill Elementary has 15 cases, Thomas Jefferson High School has 12, Sudie Williams Talented and Gifted has two, Medrano has two, W.T. White High School has 11, Pershing Elementary has one case, Withers Elementary has three, Gooch Elementary has two, Kramer Elementary has two, Preston Hollow Elementary has one, Marsh Middle School has one, Benjamin Franklin Middle School has three, and Hillcrest High has 12, according to the district’s dashboard.
Highland Park ISD reported one case among a staff member at Armstrong Elementary, one case in a student at McCulloch Intermediate, one case among a staff member at Highland Park Middle School, one in a student at HPMS, and two among students at Highland Park High School, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Of all confirmed cases requiring hospitalization to date, more than two-thirds have been under 65 years of age.
UT Southwestern Medical Center’s latest data show “hospitalizations in North Texas have risen significantly.”
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, according to UTSW.
UTSW’s model projects Dallas County total COVID-19 hospitalizations are predicted to increase to between 420 and 770 concurrent hospitalized cases by Nov. 3, and roughly 1,200 new COVID-19 cases per day are expected by Nov. 3.
Dallas County Breaks Early Voting Record
Jenkins tweeted 29,999 voters cast their ballots Monday for a total of 566,635 who voted in person during early voting, and more than 63,000 mail-in ballots received.
He added that that makes about 45% of all registered voters in Dallas County who already voted.
TxDOT Launching Traffic Safety Campaign
The Texas Department of Transportation this week launches its “Be Safe. Drive Smart” traffic safety campaign in energy-producing areas across the state, including the Barnett Shale (which encompasses 25 counties, including Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Tarrant, Wise, Erath, Hill, Hood, Jack, Johnson, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, and Somervell counties).
Last year, there were more than 205,000 crashes in counties defined as the Texas Energy Sector by the Texas Railroad Commission, which includes large portions of West Texas, South Texas and even extends into metropolitan areas like Dallas, Fort Worth and El Paso.
These crashes, which represent a 3% increase from 2018, resulted in 1,638 traffic fatalities in the state’s Barnett Shale, Eagle Ford Shale, Granite Wash, Haynesville/Bossier Shale and Permian Basin.
“Heavy trucks and work crews on state and county roads continue to create a challenging driving environment. That’s why we’re urging every motorist to slow down, drive smart and obey traffic laws to prevent crashes,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass in a statement.
As part of the campaign, drivers can expect to see safety reminders on TV, radio, social media, billboards, and gas pumps in the state’s energy-producing regions.