Denton County COVID-19 active cases on the rise; officials prepare for vaccine distribution

There are currently six potential COVID-19 vaccine candidates, according to Denton County Public Health Director Matt Richardson. Of those six, five will require the patient to take two doses. (Courtesy Fotolia)
There are currently six potential COVID-19 vaccine candidates, according to Denton County Public Health Director Matt Richardson. Of those six, five will require the patient to take two doses. (Courtesy Fotolia)

There are currently six potential COVID-19 vaccine candidates, according to Denton County Public Health Director Matt Richardson. Of those six, five will require the patient to take two doses. (Courtesy Fotolia)

Denton County is seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases, according to an Oct. 20 health presentation from Public Health Director Matt Richardson, in which he updated the court on the state’s latest change in how case numbers are reported.

Richardson said the cases numbers shown on the county’s dashboard could be up to two weeks behind and account for PCR tests and antigen tests. Current numbers show 153 new cases were reported Oct. 19, with a total of 2,438 active cases.

There have been 12,729 recoveries and 118 deaths as of Oct. 19.

“Our goal in public health is to be as transparent, as visible and as responsive as we can to the ongoing COVID-19 concern,” Richardson said. “If you want to look at active cases, you can start to see the rise in COVID-19 transmission in Denton County. Again, this is a concern. This is something that we want to highlight: ... the importance of continued prevention, facial coverings and physical distancing.”

The latest order from Gov. Greg Abbott changed the way hospitals count their occupancy. Previously, the metric for hospital bed occupancy was the number of COVID-19 patients divided by the total number of hospitalized patients. Now, the metric states hospitalization numbers are calculated by the number of COVID-19 patients divided by the total ICU bed capacity in that hospital.


The current regional threshold of hospitalization occupancy set by the governor is 15%. As of Oct. 19, Denton County’s seven-day moving average for COVID-19 inpatient capacity is 7.9%, and the daily capacity average is at 8.9%.

“We are reporting both of these for the individuals who want to track the previous metric,” Richardson said. “We didn't want to eliminate that. We wanted to remain transparent and show the visibility of the prior threshold.”

Talks of a vaccine were also addressed, as the state of Texas is preparing a plan for statewide distribution once it becomes available. Richardson said there are currently six vaccine candidates, five of which will require two doses.

“Denton County Public Health is actively working with the state health department and with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on their understanding of the most likely candidate for that vaccine," he said. "We're planning on vaccine tracking and distribution, patient tracking and a reminder for a second dose."

The vaccine research has been funded by local, state and federal tax dollars, according to Richardson. The federal government is also working on prioritizing who is to receive the vaccine once it becomes available.

“We've been advocating that local health departments have a voice in that prioritization and the logistics around distribution of a new vaccine," he said. "We're very pleased to say that ... the Texas Association of County and City Health Officials now have a seat at the table with regards to those recommendations on distribution and tiered response."
By Sandra Sadek
Sandra Sadek covers the cities of Grapevine, Southlake and Roanoke as well as Carroll ISD for Community Impact. She graduated from Texas State University where she majored in journalism and international relations. She has experience working for several local papers including the University Star, the Katy Times, and the Fort Stockton Pioneer. When she's not on the ground reporting, she enjoys a good book and a hot cup of tea.


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