Dallas County reports 205 more confirmed coronavirus cases as health official says numbers in area hospitals ‘disturbing’

alex brown

Dallas County reported 205 more confirmed coronavirus cases Tuesday, all of which the county considers new. One new COVID-19 death was also reported. Labs either report coronavirus cases directly to the county health department or to the state health department, which then relays the information to individual counties. Of cases […]

Dallas County reported 205 more confirmed coronavirus cases Tuesday, all of which the county considers new. One new COVID-19 death was also reported.

Labs either report coronavirus cases directly to the county health department or to the state health department, which then relays the information to individual counties. Of cases reported Tuesday, Dallas County health officials said 132 came from the state’s reporting system, including 33 from September and 99 from October. The remaining 73 cases were reported directly to the county health department.

The latest victim was a Dallas man in his 50s. He did not have underlying health problems.

Additionally, the county added 41 new probable cases to the newly reported cases Tuesday. Probable cases and deaths include people who had a positive antigen test (sometimes called rapid tests); had antibodies for the virus; or had COVID-19 symptoms and contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.

According to a county spokeswoman, the countywide totals for confirmed and probable cases will be unclear for a few more days, due to the ongoing transition between data platforms. The county’s confirmed death toll stands at 1,038.

Dallas County health department director Dr. Philip Huang told county commissioners Tuesday that the hospital data he’s monitoring is “disturbing.”

While the number of ICU beds has remained stable for several weeks since the county downgraded its suggested COVID-19 threat level, the number of confirmed cases in county-area hospitals is on the rise.

“Bottom line: We’ve been successful, the universal masking, the closing of the bars, and people being vigilant, have shown we can make a difference,” Huang said. “Everyone needs to stay the course.”

Commissioners told Huang that as flu season begins, they want more nuanced data, such as the number of hospitalized flu patients.

“I want us to have a good measurement for the flu impact,” said Commissioner John Wiley Price, a Democrat who represents southern Dallas. “It needs to be real clear.”

Commissioner J.J. Koch, a Republican who represents northern Dallas County, said he hopes the health department can better understand what is the cause of the slight increase.

“The bars aren’t open yet,” he said.

While other North Texas counties provide estimates for how many people have recovered from the virus, Dallas County officials do not report recoveries, saying it’s not a measurement used by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health officials use hospitalizations, intensive care admissions and emergency room visits as key metrics to track the real-time impact of COVID-19 in the county. In the 24-hour period that ended Monday, 276 COVID-19 patients were in acute care in hospitals in the county. During the same period, 427 ER visits were for symptoms of the disease.

The county’s provisional seven-day average of daily new confirmed and probable cases for the latest reporting period, Sept. 20-26, was 348 — an increase from the previous week. The figure is calculated by the date of the COVID-19 test collection, according to the county.

The county reported that during the same period, 252 school-age children tested positive for the coronavirus.

Dallas County doesn’t provide a positivity rate for all tests conducted in the area; county health officials have said they don’t have an accurate count of how many tests are conducted each day. But as of the county’s most recent reporting period, 10.7% of people who showed up at hospitals with COVID-19 symptoms tested positive for the virus.

Statewide data

Across the state, 3,872 more cases and 78 COVID-19 deaths were reported Tuesday. Texas has now reported 773,435 confirmed cases and 16,111 fatalities.

There are 3,394 COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals, including 888 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The seven-day average positivity rate statewide, based on the date of test specimen collection, was 6.43% as of Monday. State health officials said using data based on when people were tested will provide the most accurate positivity rate.

The state also provides a positivity rate based on when lab results were reported to the state; that rate stood at 8.06% as of Monday.

Officials previously calculated Texas’ coronavirus positivity rate by dividing the most recent seven days of new positive test results by the most recent seven days of total new test results. By that measure, the positivity rate is now 7.36%, according to its dashboard.

A spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services said that positivity rate data based on lab results and new cases will likely be phased out but is still provided for transparency and continuity purposes.

Doctors look at a lung CT image at a hospital in Xiaogan,China.

Tarrant County

Tarrant County reported 354 coronavirus cases and four new deaths Tuesday.

The latest deaths include two Fort Worth women in their 80s, and a man and woman from Arlington in their 50s. Only the Arlington woman did not have underlying health problems.

The newly reported cases bring the county’s total to 52,720, including 4,013 probable cases. The death toll stands at 676, and 45,231 people have recovered.

According to the county dashboard, 355 people are hospitalized with the virus.

Collin County

Collin County added 126 coronavirus cases Tuesday, bringing its total to 15,736. The county also reported three new deaths, raising the toll to 155.

The county has 888 active cases of the virus — including 104 people who are hospitalized, according to the county dashboard — and has recorded 14,848 recoveries.

Collin County, which receives its data from the Department of State Health Services since turning over case management in June, has a note on its dashboard warning residents that it has low confidence in the numbers the state is providing.

A Collin County elementary school temporarily closed Monday after 19 students and staff members tested positive for the coronavirus, the Prosper Independent School District said Tuesday.

Cockrell Elementary, one of 12 elementary schools in Prosper ISD, closed Monday and will continue with virtual instruction until at least Oct. 13, district officials said in a statement.

There are 923 students enrolled at Cockrell Elementary, according to the most recent data from the state. It was unclear Tuesday how many teachers and staff work there.

Denton County

Denton County reported new 1,240 coronavirus cases — of which 493 are active — and no new deaths Tuesday.

Of the newly reported cases, 1,181 were positive antigen tests.

Denton County said Tuesday that its coronavirus reports will include antigen tests, which Dallas County includes in its “probable” cases, among its total lab-confirmed cases. The county’s dashboard now has two separate totals to keep track of how many cases came from molecular and antigen tests, respectively.

Recently, officials have noticed a “significant shift in the testing behaviors” of county residents, Denton County health director Matt Richardson said in a written statement.

“More community members are utilizing rapid antigen testing and our data now reflects that,” Richardson said. “Data integrity is maintained and enhanced with the reporting of these new cases, as each positive antigen test is investigated in the same way DCPH investigates molecular tests.”

The newly reported cases bring the county’s total to 13,748, including 1,794 that are active and 11,845 that are recoveries. The death toll stands at 109.

The newly reported cases raised the county’s total molecular cases to 12,567, while antigen cases stand at 1,181.

There are 36 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, according to the county’s data.

Other counties

The Texas Department of State Health Services has taken over reporting for these other North Texas counties. In some counties, new data may not be reported every day.

The latest numbers are:

  • Rockwall County: 1,700 cases, 29 deaths
  • Kaufman County: 3,221 cases, 49 deaths
  • Ellis County: 4,484 cases, 68 deaths
  • Johnson County: 3,196 cases, 53 deaths

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