Tarrant County sees record rate of positive COVID-19 tests, spike in new cases

medical personnel with vial
Tarrant County officials addressed some of the challenges that have come with the demand for tests as the omicron variant continues to spread during a Tarrant County Commissioners Court meeting Jan. 4. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Tarrant County officials addressed some of the challenges that have come with the demand for tests as the omicron variant continues to spread during a Tarrant County Commissioners Court meeting Jan. 4. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Tarrant County is in the midst of a spike in COVID-19 cases as well as the highest positivity rate in testing that the county has seen to date.

Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja detailed the latest data for county commissioners on Jan. 4, noting the seven-day average of positive COVID-19 tests is up to 35.31% as of Jan. 1. The previous high mark, set on Jan. 6, 2021, had been an average of 31.18%.

“We're at a record high for the pandemic,” Taneja said. “If you look at the trend, it is a very sharp, aggressive increase in positivity. ... We're testing hundreds and thousands of people every day on different sites, [and] one in three are coming back positive—that's bad news for all of us.”

For the week ending Jan. 1, Tarrant County’s COVID-19 dashboard reflected 10,386 new cases—8,253 of which are confirmed cases and 2,133 of which are classified as probable. That’s the highest one week total since the county recorded 11,188 new cases for the week ending Sept. 18. In addition, the county’s "R(t)" metric, which reflects the number of people that one infected person will pass on the virus to, was at 1.62 for the week ending Jan. 1.

Taneja also noted an uptick in confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations in Tarrant County—up to 792 as of Jan. 4, a more than tripling of the 245 confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations recorded two weeks prior on Dec. 21.


“We're very rapidly spreading COVID to each other,” Taneja said. “So all the public health measures need to be followed so we can slow this thing down.”

In addition to outlining methods the public can employ to help curb the spread—including masking, social distancing and avoiding large crowds—he also noted that treatments such as antivirals are now available in Tarrant County. He said that supplies are tight and recommended anyone with the virus consult with their physician about their availability.

“When I talk to the hospitals and different partners, supply comes, and it's gone within a day or so,” Taneja said. “The treatment options are full, even though we're sort of challenged on supply. But they're there.”

Taneja and the court also addressed testing sites and some of the challenges that have come with the demand for tests as the omicron variant continues to spread. Taneja acknowledged that there has been confusion as well as long waits at some test locations run by the county and vendors it has partnered with.

He noted that on Tarrant County’s COVID-19 testing page there is a link labeled “additional testing locations” that connects to a database run by the Texas Division of Emergency Management. He said that site reflects a broader range of places to be tested beyond those affiliated with the county and added that those sites may have shorter waits and appointments available.

He also encouraged residents who do encounter long waits to refrain from acting out, citing several instances that were reported during the holiday weekend.

“We just need to bring our patience because, I will tell you, my staff have been yelled at, cussed at—a vendor told us one of the folks spit on the vendor’s staff,” Taneja said. “That is just not acceptable. That's what makes people walk off from their job, and then it creates a bad experience for everybody else because they're waiting in line. This has happened at sites, many places ... you got to understand on the other side, those are humans, too, that are trying to help you.”
By Steven Ryzewski
Steven Ryzewski is the editor for Community Impact Newspaper's Grapevine-Colleyville-Southlake and Keller-Roanoke-Northeast Fort Worth editions. Before joining Community Impact in 2021, he worked in hyperlocal journalism for nine years in Central Florida as an editor, sports editor and correspondent.