Dallas County Officials Urge Extreme Caution for Unvaccinated Individuals

After an extended period in the yellow “proceed with caution” level, rising case counts and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have spurred county health officials to recommend unvaccinated individuals move back to the orange “extreme caution” level.

The county debuted the color-coded system of explaining transmission risk in May 2020.

According to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, the decision to make the move Friday was a unanimous one.

(Read: Our ongoing coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic)

“The Public Health Committee met tonight and unanimously decided to move the COVID threat level from yellow to orange for unvaccinated people,” he said.

Under the orange level, there is considered to be a moderate community risk for COVID-19 transmission. Those who are not vaccinated should consider using drive-throughs, curbside pickup, or delivery for dining options; limiting shopping trips; avoiding non-essential travel; avoiding large events, religious services, and other large gatherings or attending virtually whenever possible. Mask wearing is also encouraged, as is getting vaccinated if you’re eligible. 

Dallas County health officials reported 434 new cases Friday, with 292 hospitalizations. Not quite 50% of the county is vaccinated. 

Researchers at UT Southwestern, who have been tracking and forecasting since the first case was reported in March 2020, said that if the area continues with its current behaviors — less rigorous masking, more mobility, bigger gatherings, and fewer vaccinations — new COVID cases (and hospitalizations and deaths, which are lagging indicators) could reach summer 2020 levels by the fall — just in time for school to start.

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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