Tracking COVID-19: New cases continue to drop as Dallas County sets single-day record for deaths

See how COVID-19 impacted Dallas County over the last week. (Community Impact staff)
See how COVID-19 impacted Dallas County over the last week. (Community Impact staff)

See how COVID-19 impacted Dallas County over the last week. (Community Impact staff)

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

The number of new coronavirus cases in Dallas County slowed again over the last week, but officials confirmed a single-day high of 50 deaths related to COVID-19 on Feb. 3.

New confirmed cases of the virus totaled 1,356 that same day. The seven-day average now sits at 1,595, which is a rate of 60.5 new daily cases per 100,000 residents, according to a county news release. The seven-day average at this time last week was 1,835, which is a rate of 69.6 new daily cases per 100,000 residents.

“Now is the time to strengthen our resolve, trade fear for faith in the science and the facts that have proven to be effective in keeping us safer, and focus not on what your neighbor could do but on what each one of us can do to be just a little bit stronger in the battle against COVID,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement. “Together, we will overcome this pandemic. Brighter days are ahead if we follow the science and the facts together.”

There have been 231,411 cases and 2,320 deaths in Dallas County since officials began data collection in March. About 22% 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 health experts use to determine the severity of the virus's spread, according to the county. The week ending Feb. 2 saw 932 COVID-19 patients in acute care and 540 patients reporting to the ER with COVID-19-like symptoms. This number represents about 20% of the total emergency room visits in the county during that time period, according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council.

Nearly every day since Nov. 27, patients hospitalized with COVID-19 have accounted for more than 15% of total hospital capacity in Trauma Service Area E, which comprises 19 counties in North Texas, including Dallas County.

As of Feb. 3, about 18% of the hospital beds in TSA E were occupied by confirmed COVID-19 patients, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services dashboard.

Per an October executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott, municipal governments are required to tighten restrictions for most businesses if COVID-19 patients occupy 15% or more of the available hospital beds for seven consecutive days in a specific trauma service area.

On Dec. 3, when Trauma Service Area E passed the 15% threshold for seven consecutive days, restaurants and most businesses were required to reduce capacity from 75% to 50%, and bars were required to close. Businesses will be allowed to increase capacity once COVID-19 hospitalizations for the area are below 15% for seven days in a row.

UT Southwestern modeling predicts hospitalizations in Dallas County will remain elevated and could reach 920 hospitalized patients by Feb. 12, the county release said. County data shows there were 51 ICU beds available countywide as of Feb. 2.

Long-term care facilities continue to be hard-hit by the virus, with 112 active outbreaks recorded as of Feb. 3. Over the past 30 days, 565 cases, including 187 among staff members, have been reported from these facilities.

Data showed the number of confirmed cases in school-age children has begun to slow in Dallas County. Over the past 30 days, 8,556 cases among students and staff have been reported across 739 K-12 schools in the county, according to the news release.

According to the state’s public school dashboard, new student cases decreased by nearly 10% statewide between the third and fourth weeks of January. During the week ending Jan. 24, 7,916 additional cases were reported, which was a drop from the 8,782 cases reported at the end of the week prior. Cases among staff are also decreasing, according to the dashboard.

In Richardson ISD, 1,422 students and 635 employees have been diagnosed since Aug. 19, according to the district’s dashboard, which launched in early September. In Plano ISD, 1,351 students and 648 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, 134 students and 51 employees still had the virus as of Feb. 3. In PISD, 170 student cases and 53 employee cases were still active as of Feb. 3.

Dallas County residents can register for the COVID-19 vaccine with Dallas County Health and Human Services here, while Collin County residents can submit a COVID-19 vaccine request to Collin County Health Services here. According to a city of Richardson spokesperson, the city is not involved in vaccine distribution at this time.

As of Feb. 3, about 2 million people had received at least the first dose of the vaccine in Texas, according to data on the DSHS dashboard. There are just under 2 million residents age 16 or older in Dallas County. Of those residents, about 38,139 people have received both doses. In Collin County, about 16,151 of the estimated 722,168 residents age 16 or older have received both doses.

Jenkins encouraged eligible residents to sign up for as many vaccine wait lists as possible and to continue practicing social distancing and mask-wearing. He also asked that people avoid crowds and get-togethers, such as Super Bowl parties.

“If we lose our resolve and stop doing the things that we’re doing to keep ourselves and our community strong, then the battle will prolong, and we run the risk of not reaching herd immunity before new strains set us back for a long time,” Jenkins said in his Feb. 3 statement.

Dallas County Health and Human Services reports that 34,165 vaccinations have been administered at the Fair Park mega-vaccine clinic since the site began operations Jan. 11. Collin County Health Services began vaccine distribution at Plano ISD’s Clark Stadium on Jan. 27.

Collin County announced in August that it would no longer report city-specific information. The city of Richardson does not regularly report its own case numbers; however, Mayor Paul Voelker said during the Jan. 26 State of the City address that more than 4,500 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 40 have died.
By William C. Wadsack

Editor, Plano

William joined Community Impact Newspaper in December 2019. He previously served as managing editor of several daily and weekly publications in North Texas and his native state of Louisiana.