Dallas County Posts Biggest Single-Day Total of New COVID Cases

With an election that seemingly won’t end, and a pandemic that won’t either, there can be a lot to keep up with. These are today’s bullet points:

  • Dallas County posts biggest single-day total of new COVID cases;
  • Availability of ICU beds has shrunk countywide;
  • Teach For America DFW hosts ‘Elections Explained’.

Dallas County Posts Biggest Single-Day Total of New COVID Cases

Dallas County health officials reported 1,401 new positive cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, marking the biggest single-day total since the pandemic hit the county last spring. All of the 1,267 confirmed cases and 134 probable cases are new. 

Since the spring, there have been 104,451 people sickened by the virus, and 1,136 have died from complications tied to it.

The county also reported the deaths of two Dallas residents – a woman in her 60s and a man in his 70s, who was found dead in his home. Both had underlying high-risk health conditions. 

The county said that the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations Monday  was 479. Emergency room visits for COVID-19 symptoms represented about 21% of all ER visits – up from 20% last Friday, according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council

Deaths and hospitalizations are considered lagging indicators – meaning that the region could see an even larger increase in both in about a week to two weeks after this current wave began.

“Today’s total of 1,401 new COVID-19 cases is the largest we have ever seen other than days when large backlogs were recorded,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said. “Additionally, the preliminary numbers for hospitalizations across both the region and the county show one of the highest one day jumps we have ever seen. Our COVID-19 outbreak is spiking dangerously. We are 7-10 days away from reaching our highest COVID hospitalization census to date if we do not immediately renew our resolve and change our behaviors.”

UT Southwestern’s latest forecast projects that by Nov. 20, Dallas County hospitals could see concurrent hospitalizations rise to between 430 and 780 cases, with roughly 1,000 new cases per day on average. 

Dallas County reported over the weekend that a provisional total of 577 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in school-aged children (5 to 17 years) during CDC week 44 – the week ending Oct. 31, over twice the numbers of children diagnosed in this age group a month ago.

In the county’s Nov. 10 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 286 for the week ending Oct. 31 and 334 for the week ending Oct. 24. Highland Park children numbered zero for the last two weeks. University Park children numbered four for the week ending Oct. 31 and two for the week ending Oct. 24.

Dallas County reported in its Nov. 10 aggregate report that most confirmed cases continue to be between the ages of 18 and 60, with the 18-40 age group accounting for 46% 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 14.8% as of Oct. 31, with 1,232 positives coming from 8,298 tests. Testing for the week prior found that positive cases accounted for 15.4% of all testing.

Nine percent of all cases ended up hospitalized – 24% 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 – 53,349 confirmed cases and 4,461 probable cases. Highland Park has 137 confirmed cases (up from 123 Monday) and another 57 probable cases, and University Park has 377 confirmed cases (up from 360), and 375 probable cases.

“We are entering the most dangerous phase we have seen to date in the COVID crisis,” Jenkins said. “Please do your part. I know that we can turn this around and save lives together but it takes all of us. We must turn from our understandable selfish desires to do the things that doctors tell us will lead to more COVID cases and renew our commitment to protecting one another.

There is so much more that unites us than divides us including our foundational value of caring for our community and our fellow person. Now is the time for unselfishness and great sacrifice that you and your family can be proud of.”

Availability of ICU Beds Has Shrunk in Dallas County

Data for Dallas County shows a reduction in intensive care bed availability as new cases of the novel coronavirus continue to escalate, the Dallas Morning News reported Tuesday.

Countywide, there are roughly 52 available beds – one of the lowest levels of availability since July’s peak. The figure does not include the potential beds a hospital could choose to add to address any overpopulation if needed, since each hospital has its own surge plan.

“The daily census count is a snapshot and can shift. Figures for the total number of adult ICU beds were not immediately available,” the paper reported. “The county previously recorded about 350 available beds in mid-April at the beginning of the pandemic when hospitals were emptied out to make room for COVID-19 cases.”

While not all hospitals are consistent in their reporting, available data shows that the number of available ICU beds has been below 100 for more than a month.

The Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council said about 30% of all adult ICU beds in the region are occupied by COVID-19 patients, including seven El Paso County residents transferred to the area because of a massive surge in their home county.

Tuesday, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said that 25 hospitals in the city have reported that of the 906 ICU beds available, 76% are occupied, and of the 980 ventilators available, 37% are in use.

Teach For America DFW Hosts ‘Elections Explained’

Struggling to explain the 2020 presidential election to your child? Teach for America DFW will hold a virtual family gathering Thursday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. designed to help kids understand what is going on.

The one-hour, virtual interactive workshop is free (but a $5 donation to Teach for America is suggested), and will feature teachers and representatives from other North Texas educational nonprofits, who will help explain various aspects of the election, including the Electoral College, the record voter turnout, and the process of counting ballots. The workshop is geared for children kindergarten through sixth grade.

For details, click here. 

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital 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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