DALLAS - Dallas County reported another death from COVID-19 coronavirus and 78 new cases on Wednesday, by far the largest one-day number of positive cases in the county since the pandemic began.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins urged Gov. Abbott and neighboring counties to toughen their restrictions to slow the spread of the virus.
“Today’s steep increase in cases is an urgent reminder that Governor Abbott should heed the pleas of doctors, nurses, and hospitals. We can’t wait any longer. I once again ask all North Texas counties to immediately move to the Dallas “Stay Home Stay Safe” model as some did yesterday. That’s our best chance to #Flattenthecurve,” said Clay Jenkins said in a statement.
Dallas County now has 247 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, easily the most in Texas.
But that number of confirmed cases does not include the hundreds of tests that have been done at the drive-thru testing sites in Dallas that opened over the weekend.
The person who died was a woman from Garland in her 80’s who had been in the hospital. Officials said she didn’t have any other high-risk chronic conditions. She is the sixth coronavirus death in the county.
But Dr. Phillip Huang, director of the Dallas County Health and Human Services, said there will be another death added to the list on Thursday.
“Also, [Thursday] morning we’ll officially be reporting our seventh death,” he said.
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Dallas County said of the cases that have required hospitalization, about two-thirds have either been 60-plus or had at least one high-risk chronic health condition.
Tarrant County reported more than a dozen new cases on Wednesday, for a total of 90. Denton County reported 19 new cases for a total of 70. Collin County has 54 cases.
The large increase is what was expected from Dallas County leaders, as more testing capacity means more positive tests.
With two drive-thru sites, one at the American Airlines Center and another at Ellis Davis Field House, Dallas County can test 250 people at each site per day.
Tuesday, the AAC testing site reached capacity before 3 p.m., resulting in dozens of people being turned away.
At about 2 p.m. Wednesday, the same thing happened.
“Very frustrating, and that’s what we needed a week ago,” Jenkins said.
The federal government is providing Dallas with about 5,000 tests a week, according to the city emergency manager.
Those tests are for all of North Texas
One of the people turned away was Katie Apperson.
She and her 6-year-old daughter have shown multiple symptoms, having a fever and cough for more than a week.
“We were going to go in on Tuesday. I pulled up the address, and the article said it was shut down. Today, I said, ‘OK, we have to go when I am done home schooling,’ because I have to home school her and still work from home. I get there around 1:30 p.m. and we are turned around.”
After being turned away at the AAC, Apperson and her daughter went to Ellis Davis Field House.
On Tuesday, that location also reached capacity early, but on Wednesday, Apperson said she was able to be tested.
Her daughter was traumatized by all the medical staff in protective gear, so was unable to get tested.
Apperson said she will continue to quarantine at home until she gets the results.
Jenkins said that rather than having two drive-thru testing sites, he needs 10.
“If the Feds could get the testing down here and get the testing faster, and I don’t blame anybody. Whatever is going on is above my pay grade. But, you know, we probably need 10 of these things now,” he added.
The labs that are doing testing for the drive-thru sites in Dallas are LabCorp and Quest, which are performing tests from across the country.
“At this point, the labs are so overrun and the tests are so scarce,” Jenkins explained.
Both Jenkins and Dallas’ emergency manager say they do not expect the federal government to give Dallas more tests soon.
Coronavirus health tips
While COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus, daily precautions recommended to prevent respiratory illnesses are the same:
• Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer when you can't wash your hands.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, use the elbow of your sleeve. Don’t use your hands to cover coughs and sneezes.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick and keep children home when they are sick.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
• Get a flu shot. (Although the flu shot does not protect against COVID-19, it is flu season.)