As calls continue from public health officials and local officials to avoid travel and wear masks to control a surge of new cases and hospitalizations, here’s what you need to know today:
- Dallas County reports 1,640 more COVID-19 cases, three more deaths;
- CDC revises COVID-19 quarantine guidelines;
- Abbott announces initial COVID-19 vaccine distribution for December.
Dallas County Reports 1,640 COVID-19 Cases, Three More Deaths
The county’s reported a cumulative total of 129,193 cases and 1,221 confirmed deaths as well as a cumulative total of 12,424 probable cases and 36 probable deaths.
The additional deaths reported Wednesday include a Lancaster woman in her 40s, a Duncanville woman in her 60s who didn’t have underlying conditions, and a Dallas woman in her 70s. Unless otherwise noted, they had underlying conditions.
Statewide, 14,758 new cases and 207 deaths were reported Wednesday.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins stressed the importance of masking and limiting exposure by avoiding crowds and get togethers in homes.
“We can all make a decision to limit our exposures now by avoiding in-home get-togethers, masking whenever around people outside of our home, and forgoing crowded experiences. We must stop looking at our neighbors with contempt for their perceived shortcomings in keeping our community safe, and instead focus on what we can do to get a little bit better as we all renew our strength towards shared sacrifice and patriotism. This will make our community and country stronger for a little while longer as we await the broad dissemination of a vaccine,” Jenkins said.
He also pointed to recommendations by health officials that those who gathered for the Thanksgiving holiday get tested for COVID-19.
“It is recommended by Dr. Birx and others that if you have been around crowds last week, that you get tested and there are ample opportunities for testing in Dallas County. The county offers free testing at several drive-through and walk up locations. A comprehensive list of public and private testing locations can be found at www.DallasCountyCOVID.org. Please also check that site for the latest recommendations from local doctors and everyone work towards getting just a little bit safer as we work together to protect one another this holiday season,” Jenkins said.
The county reported 800 COVID-19 patients in acute care Tuesday. There were also 575 emergency room visits for COVID-19 like symptoms in Dallas County Tuesday, which represents around 21% of all emergency department visits in the county according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council.
The county reported there are 95 active long-term care facility outbreaks, which is the highest number of long-term care facilities with active outbreaks reported in Dallas County since the beginning of the pandemic.
During the last 30 days, a total of 798 COVID-19 cases have been reported from these facilities, including 309 staff members. Of these cases 44 have been hospitalized, and 27 have died, including two deaths of staff members.
There have also 22 outbreaks in congregate-living facilities like homeless shelters, group homes, and halfway homes in the last 30 days associated with 168 cases, including one facility with 87 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Since Nov. 1, there have been 4,907 COVID-19 cases in school-aged children and staff reported from over 704 separate K-12 schools in Dallas County, including 550 staff members.
A total of 1,157 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in school-aged children (5 to 17 years) during the week ending Nov. 21, which is 50% more than the number of cases in this age group reported during the highest week of cases during July.
Since Nov. 1, there have also been over 134 COVID-19 cases in children and staff reported from 101 separate daycares in Dallas County.
As of Wednesday, there have been three cases among students reported at Armstrong, two cases among staff members assigned to Hyer, four cases among staff members assigned to University Park, two among students there, five among staff members assigned to McCulloch Intermediate and two among students there, one case among a staff member assigned to Highland Park Middle School and two among students, four cases among staff members assigned to Highland Park High School and seven among students there, according to the district’s COVID webpage.
Dallas ISD reported 1,495 cases districtwide as of Wednesday, 649 among campus staff, 162 among central staff, and 684 among students, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard.
CDC Revises COVID-19 Quarantine Guidelines
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has changed its quarantine guidelines for people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 from a 14-day quarantine to allow for a seven or 10 day quarantine depending on test results and symptoms.
The two alternative quarantine periods the CDC announced Wednesday include a 10-day quarantine without a test if the person hasn’t reported any symptoms, or a seven-day quarantine with a negative test result if the person hasn’t reported any symptoms.
The CDC noted they continue to recommend a 14-day quarantine as the best way to reduce the spread of the virus, but acknowledged the strain it puts on people.
“Reducing the length of quarantine may make it easier for people to take this critical public health action by reducing the economic hardship associated with a longer period, especially if they cannot work during that time,” said Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s incident manager for its COVID-19 response, according to a transcript of a Wednesday conference call. “In addition, a shorter quarantine period can lessen stress on the public health system and communities especially when new infections are rapidly rising.”
The CDC noted people should still watch for any symptoms for 14 days, especially if they stop quarantine early.
Dr. John Brooks, the chief medical officer for the CDC’s COVID-19 response, said the agency’s revised guidance was based on “extensive modelling not just by CDC, but by other agencies and partners outside of CDC including academic centers and some public health departments.”
The CDC continues to recommend that people postpone holiday travel and stay home.
Abbott Announces Initial COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution For December
These vaccines, which should begin arriving in Texas the week of Dec. 14, will be distributed to qualifying providers across the state who will administer these immunizations based on the Vaccine Distribution Principles developed by the state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel. Additional allotments may be made later this month for December. Also, increased allotments are expected in January and the following months.
“The State of Texas is already prepared for the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine, and will swiftly distribute these vaccines to Texans who voluntarily choose to be immunized,” said Abbott. “As we await the first shipment of these vaccines, we will work with communities to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”