The number of new coronavirus cases in Dallas County dropped again over the last week, but officials confirmed March 2 that the county had surpassed 3,000 deaths related to COVID-19.
New cases of the virus totaled 781 on March 4. The seven-day average now sits at 230, which is a rate of 8.7 new daily cases per 100,000 residents, according to a county news release. The seven-day average at this time last week was 657, which is a rate of 24.9 new daily cases per 100,000 residents.
“The COVID[-19] virus is still in our community, and we must continue to take precautions to protect ourselves, our family, friends, neighbor and co-workers,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement. “We should follow the advice of doctors and public health experts and continue wearing our mask, washing our hands, avoiding crowds and forgoing get-togethers at this time.”
There have been 247,026 cases and 3,071 deaths in Dallas County since officials began data collection in March 2020. 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 March 3 saw 381 COVID-19 patients in acute care and 335 patients reporting to the ER with COVID-19-like symptoms. This number represents about 14% 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.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced this week that Texans will no longer be required by state law to wear masks, and all businesses will be allowed to operate at full capacity as of March 10.
Since early January, when COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations peaked across the state, numbers have been steadily declining. According to Texas Department of State Health Services data, there were 5,263 COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals as of March 4, down from more than 14,000 between Jan. 11-13.
Abbott said March 2 "people and businesses don't need the state telling them how to operate." However, if COVID-19 hospitalizations rise above 15% of all hospitalizations within a certain region, county judges can take action. Under state law, those actions cannot include reducing business capacity lower than 50%, imposing jail time for failing to follow COVID-19 guidelines, or imposing penalties for not wearing a mask.
As of March 3, less than 8% of the hospital beds in Trauma Service Area E, which includes Dallas and Collin counties, were occupied by confirmed COVID-19 patients, according to the DSHS dashboard.
Data shows the number of confirmed cases in school-age children has continued to slow in Dallas County. Over the past 30 days, 2,668 cases among students and staff have been reported across 553 K-12 schools in the county, according to the news release.
According to the state’s public school dashboard, new student cases were down by more than 46% statewide in the final week of February compared to the week ending Feb. 14. Last month’s winter storm closed schools and testing facilities during the week ending Feb. 21. During the week ending Feb. 28, 2,640 additional cases were reported, which was a drop from the 4,932 cases reported at the end of the week ending Feb. 14. Cases among staff also decreased between the weeks of Feb. 14 and Feb. 28, according to the dashboard.
In Richardson ISD, 1,609 students and 712 employees have been diagnosed since Aug. 19, according to the district’s dashboard, which launched in early September. In Plano ISD, 1,732 students and 780 employees have been diagnosed and have since recovered, according to PISD's dashboard, which began reporting data Aug. 12 and was last updated March 5.
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, 43 students and nine employees still had the virus as of March 4. In PISD, 41 student cases and 10 employee cases were still active as of March 5.
Dallas County residents can register for the COVID-19 vaccine with Dallas County Health and Human Services here. Collin County commissioners voted Feb. 8 to temporarily suspend processing new registrations to the county's online COVID-19 vaccine waitlist due to an imbalance of available doses and demand for them. According to a city of Richardson spokesperson, the city is not involved in vaccine distribution at this time.
As of March 4, about 3.9 million people had received at least the first dose of the vaccine in Texas, according to data on the DSHS dashboard. There are more than 2 million residents age 16 or older in Dallas County. Of those residents, more than 182,000 people have received both doses. In Collin County, nearly 89,000 of the estimated 801,716 residents age 16 or older have received both doses.
DSHS announced March 3 that Texas educators and child care workers are now eligible to receive coronavirus vaccines.
“We will begin vaccinating that important group at Fair Park through our Community Vaccination Center if they live in one of our 17 priority ZIP codes,” Jenkins said in his March 4 statement. “They will receive an invite directly from [Dallas County Health and Human Services] to make an appointment. Please encourage all family and friends who are teachers and school staff to register on the county registration site.”
Dallas County Health and Human Services reports that 108,124 vaccinations have been administered at the Fair Park mega-vaccine clinic since the site began operations Jan. 11. Collin County restarted scheduling appointments at its vaccine hub at Plano ISD’s Clark Stadium on Feb. 22.
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, Dallas County’s COVID-19 analytics dashboard shows there have been nearly 7,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in that county’s portion of Richardson.