The onset of illness for COVID-19 rates have started trending downward in Denton County after a three-week increase, according to Dr. Matt Richardson, Denton County Public Health director.

The onset of illness is not necessarily when the county reports COVID-19 cases. COVID-19 case counts are delayed.

Despite the decrease in the onset of illness, the county is starting to see an increase in deaths related to COVID-19 and the delta variant, Richardson said during a Dec. 7 commissioners court meeting.

For the week of Nov. 29, 14 deaths related to COVID-19 were reported in the county, which brought the total to 752, according to public health data. During the week of Nov. 15-19, one death was reported.

On Dec. 6, 137 COVID-19 cases were reported in Denton County, which brought the county total to 111,758, according to a public health department news release.

During the week of Nov. 29, 1,035 new cases were reported. About 450 cases a week is the sign of moderate community transmission, Richardson said.

“That's the bar we are hoping to achieve next,” he said.

Pediatric cases are on the decline as pediatric vaccination rates in the county increase, Richardson said.

“That's encouraging,” he said. “We hope those are linked.”

Delta continues to be the dominant variant present in Denton County, though the first Texas lab-confirmed case of the omicron variant was reported in Houston on Dec. 6, Richardson said.

“We anticipate it’s in several communities across Texas and even in Denton County,” he said.

Vaccinations continue to be administered in the county. Data shows 208,371 residents have received their first dose, 199,268 have received their second dose and 26,324 have received a booster through Denton County.

People can find a vaccine near them online.