Businesses forced to scale back capacity as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations in Dallas County reach new heights

See how COVID-19 has impacted Dallas County over the past seven days. (Community Impact staff)
See how COVID-19 has impacted Dallas County over the past seven days. (Community Impact staff)

See how COVID-19 has impacted Dallas County over the past seven days. (Community Impact staff)

Editor’s note: This is the latest information reported by Dallas County, Richardson ISD and Plano ISD through their public dashboards.

More than 11,000 additional cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Dallas County over the past seven days, according to county data, and on Dec. 2, the county announced that businesses would face new restrictions after COVID-19 hospitalizations in the region exceeded Gov. Greg Abbott's threshold for the seventh consecutive day.

"Governor Abbott continues to urge all Texans to follow the safe practices they mastered in the summer to slow the spread," said Renae Eze, the governor's press secretary, in a statement Dec. 3. "We’ve slowed the spread before, and we will do it again while we await the arrival of vaccines later this month."

After 2,122 additional cases were reported Dec. 2, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins urged residents to continue observing social distancing and other precautions while the region awaits its first shipment of vaccines.

“I anticipate that we will be giving the vaccine to health care workers and the nursing home population later this month, and so there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said in a Dec. 2 statement. “However, we are not there yet, and it is imperative that we all do what we can do to get a little bit safer for ourselves, our community and our country until the vaccine can have its effect.”

There have been 130,830 cases and 1,224 deaths in Dallas County since officials began data collection in March. About 23% of deaths countywide have been associated with long-term care facilities.

Hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions and emergency room visits are among the key indicators that health experts use to determine severity of the virus, according to the county. The week ending Dec. 2 saw 813 COVID-19 patients in acute care and 520 patients reporting to the ER with COVID-19-like symptoms. This number represents almost a quarter of the total emergency room visits in the county during that time period, according to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council.

"Our hospitals are seeing record numbers of patients and are concerned about additional increases expected following Thanksgiving gatherings," a Dec. 2 statement from the county said.

The number of cases in long-term care facilities is spiking, according to the county. There are currently 95 active outbreaks, which is the highest such number reported since the beginning of the pandemic. Over the past 30 days, 798 cases, including 309 staff members, have been reported from these facilities, according to the Dec. 2 release.

Data also shows that the number of confirmed cases in school-age children is on the rise in Dallas County. Since Nov. 1, 4,907 cases among students and staff have been reported across than 704 K-12 schools in the county, according to a Dec. 2 news release.

According to the state’s public school dashboard, new positive cases among students statewide increased by almost 50% between the end of October and the beginning of November. During the week ending Nov. 8, 5,907 additional cases were reported, which was a significant increase from the 3,444 cases reported the week prior. The week ending Nov. 15 saw 6,343 new cases reported. Cases among staff are also increasing, according to the dashboard.

In Richardson ISD, 513 students and 201 employees have been diagnosed since Aug. 19, according to the district’s dashboard, which was launched in early September. In Plano ISD, 449 students and 188 employees have been diagnosed and have since recovered, according to PISD's dashboard, which began reporting data Aug. 12 and is updated daily Monday through Friday.

Both dashboards show all confirmed coronavirus cases districtwide, including those reported in students learning from home. They also include a breakdown of cases by building. Of cases confirmed in RISD, 70 students and 17 employees still have the virus. In PISD, 95 student cases and 52 employee cases are still active.

Collin County announced in August that it will no longer report city-specific information. Only data published by the Texas Department of State Health Services will be shared on the county’s dashboard, according to the announcement. The city of Richardson does not regularly report its own case numbers.
By Olivia Lueckemeyer
Olivia Lueckemeyer graduated in 2013 from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in journalism. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2016 as reporter for the Southwest Austin edition before her promotion to editor in March 2017. In July 2018 she returned home to the Dallas area and became editor of the Richardson edition.