The number of new coronavirus cases in Dallas County dropped again over the last week as officials confirmed more than 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered at the Fair Park mega vaccine clinic.
New cases of the virus totaled 296 on March 25. The seven-day average now sits at 266, which is a rate of 10.1 new daily cases per 100,000 residents, according to a county news release. The seven-day average at this time last week was 291, which is a rate of 11 new daily cases per 100,000 residents.
“There’s much cause for optimism with Parkland [Hospital] closing their COVID unit and only having around 20 current patients struggling with this disease, our numbers trending lower at all hospitals and more people getting vaccinated every day,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement. “We still are in a place of high community spread so it is important to make good decisions such as wearing your mask, washing your hands frequently, avoiding unnecessary crowds, particularly indoors, and registering to get vaccinated in as many places as you're willing to drive.”
There have been 251,360 cases and 3,454 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 24 saw 189 COVID-19 patients in acute care and 363 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 lifted state mask requirements March 10 and said all businesses are allowed to operate at full capacity.
Since early January, when COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations peaked across the state, numbers have been steadily declining.
According to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services, there were 3,410 COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals as of March 25, down from more than 3,800 on March 18. Abbott said March 2 that "people and businesses don't need the state telling them how to operate." However, if COVID-19 hospitalizations do rise above a certain level—15% of all hospitalizations within a certain region—county judges will be able to take action. Abbott said county judges will be able to reduce business capacity to no lower than 50%.
As of March 24, less than 5% of the hospital beds in Trauma Service Area E were occupied by confirmed COVID-19 patients, according to the DSHS dashboard.
An outbreak of more than 50 cases of COVID-19 was reported this week among high school students who attended a dance and dinner earlier this month, according to the news release. Over the past 30 days, 1,351 cases among students and staff have been reported across 415 K-12 schools in the county, the release stated.
According to the state’s public school dashboard, new student cases were down by more than 58% statewide between the second and third weeks of March. During the week ending March 21, 466 additional cases were reported, which was a drop from the 1,121 cases reported at the end of the week prior. Cases among staff also decreased between the weeks of March 14 and March 21, according to the dashboard.
In Richardson ISD, 1,670 students and 726 employees have been diagnosed since Aug. 19, according to the district’s dashboard, which launched in early September. In Plano ISD, 1,807 students and 800 employees have been diagnosed and have since recovered, according to PISD's dashboard, which began reporting data Aug. 12 and was last updated March 26.
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, 37 students and seven employees still had the virus as of March 26. In PISD, 32 student cases and 13 employee cases were still active as of March 26.
Dallas County residents can register for the COVID-19 vaccine with Dallas County Health and Human Services here. Collin County Judge Chris Hill announced March 11 that the county has completed its COVID-19 vaccine waitlist and that it would open its vaccine appointment portal on Friday mornings. According to a city of Richardson spokesperson, the city is not involved in vaccine distribution at this time.
As of March 25, more than 6.6 million people had received at least the first dose of the vaccine in Texas, according to data on the DSHS dashboard. There are just over 2 million residents age 16 or older in Dallas County. Of those residents, nearly 282,000 people have received both doses. In Collin County, nearly 134,000 of the estimated 801,716 residents age 16 or older have received both doses.
Beginning March 29, all Texas adults will be eligible to receive a vaccine for COVID-19, the DSHS announced March 23. According to the DSHS, the state's Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel recommended the shift because they expect vaccine supply to increase next week.
“Soon we will move from our challenge being not enough vaccines to our challenge being getting out the increased doses of vaccine that the federal government has been able to jumpstart,” Jenkins said in his March 25 statement. “As we overcome that, our next challenge will be vaccine hesitancy and all the people who are reluctant to join in getting vaccinated so we can reach herd immunity and put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us.”
Dallas County Health and Human Services reported more than 220,000 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 more than 7,200 confirmed coronavirus cases in that county’s portion of Richardson.