The county saw its highest number of COVID-19 cases reported in the last week since testing began in mid-March, Richardson said at a June 16 Denton County Commissioners Court meeting.
“Unlike some other [updates] where I’ve told you that our situation compared to the state of the nation is favorable, we do seem to be seeing a spike in cases that is commensurate and parallel to what’s happening in other communities in the metroplex, and what's happening in Texas,” Richardson said.
The county’s positivity rate increased from 2.1% two weeks ago to 7.8% for last week. This rate is found by dividing the total number of positive tests by the number of tests taken. This increase is a concern for the county, he said.
The positivity rate may have also been abnormally low two weeks ago because of a large number of additional tests in long-term care facilities with some results pending from the state, Richardson said.
However, the increase to 7.8% is based off a more typical number of tests in a week, according to Richardson.
“What that’s telling us is we think there’s a lot of integrity to that 7.8% positivity rate, which is a concern,” he said.
Texas saw its highest daily count of cases yet on June 16 and showed an increase in cases over the past week. The state has 14,993 beds available as of June 16, according to John Zerwas, The University of Texas executive chancellor for health affairs, as previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper.
Denton County is sitting close to a 50% occupancy rate at its hospitals, which is neither good or bad, according to Richardson. An increase in occupancy at hospitals is partly due to returning patients for procedures and surgeries, he said. As of June 16, the county has a little over half of its intensive care units available, and roughly 17% of its ventilators are in use, according to the county's online dashboard.
Richardson urged those with chronic conditions to continue getting treatment when needed because without treatment, it can become an additional risk factor when COVID-19 is contracted, he said.
“Don’t be afraid of hospitals,” Richardson said. “If you have those conditions, we need to manage the risk factors.”
As Texas businesses and restaurants return to some normalcy, Richardson said the No. 1 message for residents is to wear a mask.
“The simplest message hasn’t changed, but its importance is increasing,” Richardson said. “That message is: You need to wear a face covering [in] a mask, and you need to protect the vulnerable.”