Tracking COVID-19: New cases in Dallas County increase week over week

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

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

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

After several weeks of declining case numbers, the number of new coronavirus cases in Dallas County rose over the last week.

New cases of the virus totaled 244 on April 8. The seven-day average now sits at 218, which is a rate of 8.3 new daily cases per 100,000 residents, according to a county news release. The seven-day average at this time last week was 204, which is a rate of 7.7 new daily cases per 100,000 residents.

“Almost 37% of eligible Dallas County residents have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and almost 21% are fully vaccinated according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement. “While I’m glad these numbers are increasing with each passing day, we still have a large number of our residents who are either unvaccinated or are not yet fully vaccinated.”

There have been 253,446 cases and 3,669 deaths in Dallas County since officials began data collection in March 2020. About 20% 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 April 7 saw 219 COVID-19 patients in acute care and 470 patients reporting to the ER with COVID-19-like symptoms. This number represents about 16% 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 greatly declined.

According to data from the DSHS, there were 2,856 COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals as of April 8, down from more than 3,400 on March 25. 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 April 7, less than 4% 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 70 cases of COVID-19 was reported this week among high school students who attended a dance and dinner last month, according to the news release. Over the past 30 days, 1,223 cases among students and staff have been reported across 380 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 39% statewide between the last full week of March and the first week of April. During the week ending April 4, 1,323 additional cases were reported, which was a drop from the 2,171 cases reported at the end of the week prior. Cases among staff also decreased between the weeks of March 28 and April 4, according to the dashboard.

In Richardson ISD, 1,712 students and 732 employees have been diagnosed since Aug. 19, according to the district’s dashboard, which launched in early September. In Plano ISD, 1,866 students and 814 employees have been diagnosed and have since recovered, according to PISD's dashboard, which began reporting data Aug. 12 and was last updated April 9.

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, 24 students and one employee still had the virus as of April 9. In PISD, 54 student cases and four employee cases were still active as of April 9.

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 April 8, nearly 8.6 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 21% have received both doses. In Collin County, more than 25% of the estimated 801,716 residents age 16 or older have received both doses.

Since March 29, all Texas adults have been 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.

“It’s important that we continue to wear our masks, keep our distance, wash our hands, avoid crowds, register for the vaccine and get vaccinated as soon as we can,” Jenkins said in his April 8 statement.

Dallas County Health and Human Services reported more than 319,000 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 7,300 confirmed coronavirus cases in that county’s portion of Richardson.
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.