As local officials caution against viewing the lower COVID-19 case number Monday as a trend and look toward the Thanksgiving holiday, here’s what you need to know today:
- Dallas County reports 541 additional COVID-19 cases, seven more deaths;
- AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine candidate appears effective;
- Let’s talk turkey safety tips.
Dallas County Reports 541 Additional COVID-19 Cases, Seven More Deaths
The county’s reported a cumulative total of 119,483 confirmed cases and 1,191 confirmed deaths, as well as a cumulative total of 11,244 probable cases and 27 probable deaths.
The additional deaths reported Monday include a Garland man in his 40s, a Dallas woman in her 50s, a Dallas man in his 60s, a Lancaster woman in her 60s, a Grand Prairie man in his 60s, a Dallas woman in her 70s, and a Dallas man in his 80s. All had underlying conditions. Of the total confirmed deaths reported to date, about 23% have been associated with long-term care facilities.
“Our numbers of new positive cases are much lower today and this is an accurate number that does not reflect a lack of reporting by any group. While this is good news, it’s too early to call it a trend,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins Monday. “We recognize that this Thanksgiving will be different from Thanksgivings in the past as doctors and I hope you will spend it with the smallest amount of people possible, ideally just the people that you live with. This is one of the ways, along with forgoing Black Friday shopping experiences (except for online), and modifying other behaviors such as grocery shopping to take advantage of curbside pickup and other contactless options, that we must do out of a spirit of sacrifice, patriotism and community concern to protect the vulnerable and our economy until the vaccine is widely disseminated and has its effect.”
The provisional seven-day average of daily new confirmed and probable cases (by date of test collection) for the week ending Nov. 14 has increased to 1,321, which is a rate of 50.1 daily new cases per 100,000 residents– the highest case rate in Dallas County since the beginning of the pandemic.
The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 has increased, the county says, with 16.8% of symptomatic patients presenting to area hospitals testing positive in the week ending Nov. 14.
UT Southwestern Medical Center’s data shows COVID-19 hospitalizations in Dallas County have increased 43% over the last two weeks.
UTSW’s model also projects total COVID-19 hospitalizations could increase to between 800 and 1,350 concurrent hospitalized cases by Dec. 4 and roughly 3,000 new COVID-19 infections per day are expected by Dec. 4.
A provisional total of 1,224 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in school-aged children (5 to 17 years) during the week ending Nov. 14 a three-fold increase from five weeks earlier.
Since Nov. 1, there have been 2,851 COVID-19 cases in school-aged children and staff reported from more than 558 separate K-12 schools in Dallas County, including 393 staff members.
A total of 1,224 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in school-aged children (5 to 17 years) during the week Nov. 14, which is 50% more than the number of cases in this age group reported during the second highest peak week of cases in July (Week 28). Since November 1, there have been over 116 COVID-19 cases in children and staff reported from 60 separate daycares in Dallas County.
As of Monday, Highland Park ISD’s reported one case among a student at Armstrong Elementary, one case among a staff member assigned to Boone, one case among a student there, one case among a student at Bradfield, one case among a student at Hyer, three cases among staff members assigned to McCulloch Intermediate, six cases among students there, two cases among staff members assigned to Highland Park Middle School, three cases among students there, three cases among staff members assigned to the high school, and four among students there, according to the district’s COVID-19 webpage.
Dallas ISD has reported 1,161 cases districtwide, 475 among campus staff, 119 among campus staff, and 567 among students, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard.
AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Appears Effective
A third COVID-19 vaccine candidate, this one by AstraZeneca, was found to be 62% or 90% effective depending on how the doses were given, according to early analysis of clinical trials.
More data will continue to accumulate and additional analysis will be conducted, refining the efficacy reading and establishing the duration of protection, the company and Oxford University said in the Monday announcement.
AstraZeneca said Monday they will begin preparing regulatory submission of their data to authorities around the world that have a framework in place for conditional or early approval. The company also says they will seek an emergency use listing from the World Health Organization for an accelerated pathway to vaccine availability in low-income countries.
The company says they have the capacity to manufacture up to 3 billion doses of the vaccine in 2021 on a rolling basis, pending regulatory approval.
This vaccine, unlike another candidate by Pfizer, can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions for at least six months and administered within existing healthcare settings, AstraZeneca said in the announcement.
“Today marks an important milestone in our fight against the pandemic. This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency. Furthermore, the vaccine’s simple supply chain and our no-profit pledge and commitment to broad, equitable and timely access means it will be affordable and globally available, supplying hundreds of millions of doses on approval,” said AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot in a Monday statement.
The announcement comes after promising news about the efficacy of other vaccine candidates by Pfizer and Moderna, and Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement Monday about the state’s plan to distribute vaccines.
Let’s Talk Turkey Safety Tips
The Texas Poison Center Network has some tips to prepare a safe holiday meal this week.
The tips include washing your hands before and after handling food and cleaning utensils, plates, countertops, and cutting boards, but not washing the turkey.
Raw turkey should also be kept separated from fresh food, the Texas Poison Center Network says.
Turkeys are ready to eat once they reach 165 degrees. The temperature can be taken from the thickest part of the turkey breast, the innermost part of the wing, or thigh.
Once the food’s ready and everyone’s had their fill, leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours. It’s safe in the fridge for two-four days.