Updated at 5:35 p.m.: Revised to include additional data from Dallas County.
Dallas County health officials 462 confirmed coronavirus cases, all of which were considered new, and 20 additional deaths Friday — the most deaths reported on a single day since late August.
The new cases are part of a “new and escalating wave” of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said at a news conference Friday. At the conference, ahead of the daily coronavirus announcement, officials had said they expected to announce 537 cases.
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 Friday, Dallas County health officials said 235 came from the state’s reporting system, all of them from October. The remaining 227 cases were reported directly to the county health department.
The latest victims included 11 Dallas residents: a man in his 50s, four men and three women in their 70s, and two men and one woman in their 80s. One of the women in his 70s, one of the men in his 80s and the woman in her 80s lived in long-term care facilities.
The other victims were two Irving men in their 40s and 80s, a Carrollton man in his 20s, a DeSoto woman in her 70s, a Garland man in his 90s, a Grand Prairie man in his 40s, a Mesquite man in his 60s, a Rowlett man in his 80s and a Seagoville man in his 60s. Officials said the Carrollton man was found dead at his home and had underlying health conditions.
Recent data prompted health officials Wednesday to upgrade the perceived coronavirus risk level back to red, the most severe category, which recommends that residents avoid nonessential activities as much as possible.
The newly reported cases bring the county’s total confirmed cases to 88,834. The county’s confirmed death toll stands at 1,079.
Additionally, Dallas County reported 18 probable cases Friday, bringing the total number of probable cases to 4,494. The county has also reported 13 probable COVID-19 deaths.
Probable cases and deaths being counted by Dallas County officials largely consist of people who had a positive antigen test (sometimes called a rapid test). A few cases where a person had antibodies for the virus as well as symptoms for multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a serious condition associated with COVID-19, have been included but likely will not be going forward, officials have 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.
From Aug. 22 to Oct. 8, the county saw a 94% increase in COVID-19 cases, said Dr. Philip Huang, director of the county’s health department.
Hospitalizations and emergency room visits, which are used as key metrics to track the real-time impact of COVID-19 in the county, also sharply increased in recent weeks, county health officials said.
Suspected and confirmed emergency room visits for coronavirus symptoms increased by 50% from Sept. 22 to Thursday, Huang said. Confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations, meanwhile, have increased by 135% in the last month.
In the 24-hour period that ended Thursday, 353 COVID-19 patients were in acute care in hospitals in the county. During the same period, 493 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, Oct. 4-10, was 453 — an increase from 383 the previous week. The figure is calculated by the date of the COVID-19 test collection, according to the county.
Dallas County doesn’t provide a positivity rate for all COVID-19 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, 12.6% of people who showed up at hospitals with COVID-19 symptoms tested positive for the virus. That’s an increase from the previous reporting period, when 10.1% such patients tested positive.
The current data reflects the importance of staying vigilant about precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, Huang said.
“We know what we need to do, we just need to do it,” he said. “We’ve done it, we’ve been successful, and we just need to keep doing that.”
Jenkins added that four large hospital systems in the Dallas-Fort Worth area this week reported having their largest volume of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of August. Jenkins did not name those hospital systems.
“We are at a very critical point in our fight against COVID,” he said. “This should be the time when more people are outside, they’re socially distant, it’s easier for us to follow the rules. And yet it’s a time when, unfortunately because of COVID fatigue, that less people are doing the things that doctors are telling us will keep us safe.”
He added that if resident don’t remain vigilant about following public health guidelines, the county will be in for “a very rough holiday in the winter.” Jenkins said in places like New York, COVID-19 cases spiked during months with cold weather because people were gathering indoors more frequently.
“There is no dispute in the medical community — the numbers are going against us,” Jenkins said. “We have got to tighten up our behavior.”
Jenkins recommended that people avoid bars, gyms, movie theaters, dining in restaurants and other indoor activities. He said gatherings should be kept small and ideally, be held outdoors.
Health officials emphasized that voting is still a safe activity despite the county being in the red zone. He said the past two elections occurred while the county was in the red zone and, because of precautions being taken at polling places, there have been no COVID-19 cases traced back to voting.
“Don’t wait until Election Day, use all these early-voting days to get it done so that the numbers of people voting are spread out and you can avoid crowds,” Huang said.
Across the state, 5,682 more cases and 91 COVID-19 deaths were reported Friday. Texas has now reported 815,678 confirmed cases and 16,903 fatalities.
There are 4,248 COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals, including 1,186 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The seven-day average positivity rate statewide, based on the date of test specimen collection, was 8.4% as of Thursday. State health officials said using data based on when people were tested provides 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 7.9% as of Thursday.
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 6.3%, 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 being provided for transparency and continuity purposes.
Tarrant County reported 615 coronavirus cases and one new death Friday.
The latest victim was an Arlington man in his 70s.
The newly reported cases bring the county’s total to 58,053, including 4,925 probable cases and 48,108 recoveries. The death toll stands at 699.
According to the county dashboard, 446 people are hospitalized with the virus.
Collin County added 163 coronavirus cases Friday, bringing its total to 16,751. The county did not report any new deaths, leaving its toll at 168.
The county has 945 active cases of the virus — including 147 people who are hospitalized, according to the county dashboard — and has recorded 15,806 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. The county says that on Oct. 30 it will redirect its online dashboard to the state’s dashboard.
Denton County reported 212 coronavirus cases — of which 174 are active — and one new death Friday.
The latest death was a man in his 60s who lived in an unincorporated part of the county.
The newly reported cases bring the county’s total to 15,009, including 2,327 that are active and 12,565 that are recoveries. The death toll stands at 117.
The newly reported cases raised the county’s total molecular cases to 13,463, while antigen cases stand at 1,546.
There are 67 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, according to the county’s data.
County Judge Andy Eads announced Thursday that he tested positive for COVID-19.
He told KXAS-TV (NBC5) that he had been notified Monday by the county’s health department that he had been exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus and has been self-quarantining since.
Eads said the only people potentially exposed to the virus since then are people in his home. He told the outlet that his symptoms so far have included muscle pain and what feels like hay fever.
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: 1,775 cases, 30 deaths.
- Kaufman County: 3,320 cases, 52 deaths.
- Ellis County: 4,700 cases, 74 deaths.
- Johnson County: 3,384 cases, 60 deaths.