Dallas County on Wednesday reported triple-digit numbers of new COVID-19 cases for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic.
Health officials said there were 100 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths in the county. The deaths were a man in his 50s from Mesquite and a woman in her 80s from Garland.
The new cases included two more residents at the Edgemere retirement community in North Dallas, bringing the total there to 7. Two people at Edgemere have died. There’s also a second case at the Reserve in Richardson.
Dallas County now has 731 confirmed cases and 15 deaths from the virus. The county continues to lead the state in COVID-19 cases.
In a digital news conference Wednesday, Dallas County says it's ready for the rise in cases
“We have a pretty good capacity right now,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. “The problem is, as we've talked, we're just on the beginning of that curve and we're seeing a pretty good increase.”
Dr. Philip Huang, Dallas County Health and Human Services Director, said they knew the number of cases would continue to go up.
“We're having more testing that continues to be available in the community, but certainly any increase is concerning,” Huang said.
There’s also a growing concern about available hospital space, ICU beds and enough ventilators.
“We've been working with the different hospitals in Dallas-Fort Worth. All of these groups are working together with state and federal partners to make sure that we can be as prepared as we can. Certainly we've seen the images of what's going on in New York and other places,” Huang said.
He said orders to socially distance and limit person-to-person contact will make a difference.
“For the next few weeks, what happens with that physical distancing and people keeping apart and slowing down that spread of the infection is really going to determine what happens with progress on this,” Huang said.
Available Hospital Beds
The number of intensive care unit hospitalizations now exceeds the peak week from the past flu season. And for the first time, the city of Dallas reported the number of available beds and equipment at eight hospitals.
From data submitted on Tuesday, about half of all available beds were occupied and 56 percent of the ICU beds were occupied. Out of 342 ventilators, 139 were in use. That's about 40 percent.
However, DFW Hospital Council CEO Stephen Love says the numbers don’t tell the whole story and that more beds and equipment will become available.
“If the models are correct, we're going to have an increase in volume related to this very serious illness,” Love said. “And we're doing surge planning to do our very best that we'll be prepared.”
Dallas county officials point to the ongoing work to prepare the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center as a potential overflow hospital. There are also efforts to bring other hospitals online and increase the amount of beds in available rooms.
There is still hope social distancing efforts will slow the upward trend in cases.
“We'll probably see an increase for sure,” Love said. “But hopefully it won't increase as much as if we had done nothing.”
Two More Deaths in Tarrant County
Two more people have also died because of the coronavirus in Tarrant County.
Tarrant County health officials on Wednesday reported a man from Hurst and a woman from Fort Worth died after testing positive for COVID-19.
Officials said both patients had underlying health conditions but declined to release any other details, citing HIPPA laws.
With the number of cases increasing every day, Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja says he’s worried the public is becoming complacent when it comes to social distancing. His biggest concern - young adults.
“You’re really starting to see a lot more people out, and that is concerning,” he said. “The younger age group is getting a lot more of the cases, and there’s two reasons for that. One is the younger age group is not following social distancing guidelines.”
Taneja says the second reason is typically their cases are mild or asymptomatic.
Two weeks ago, Mendel Mandel boarded a plane to travel home to Fort Worth from school in Toronto.
“I woke up that morning feeling under the weather,” the 18-year-old recalled. “But it was so slight and I hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep the past few nights.”
Mendel complained of a headache for a few days and then came down with a fever.
“It went really high. He had 105,” said Chana Mandel, Mendel’s mother. “Coughing up blood and having muscle spasms from all of the coughs and really having to rest and seeing how weak he was. It was alarming.”
Mendel was admitted to Cook Children’s Medical Center where he tested positive.
“It was a little hard to breathe,” he said. “Mentally, it was more like shoot I’m in the hospital. I’m going to have to wait it out.”
After five days of treatment, Mendel was finally able to go back home. His message is a warning for teens who underestimate the seriousness of the virus.
“It’s not a joke, that’s for sure,” he said. “Keep safe. Wash your hands. And when you’re washing your hands, remember whose hands you're in.”
The county now has a total of three COVID-19-related deaths and at least 173 confirmed cases of the virus.
Denton County announced 25 new cases on Wednesday for a total of 231. Collin County reported 24 deaths, bringing the total in the county to 184.
The latest numbers from the state of Texas show nearly 3,300 of the 42,000 people who have been tested for COVID-19 have tested positive. At least 43 people have died.
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Protect Yourself from COVID-19
- Stay home as much as possible.
- Practice social distancing by staying six feet away from others when you do go out; avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick. If you experience difficulty breathing, or persistent fever, call your primary care provider.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your sleeve.
- Frequently clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces.