As Texas is set to reopen, Dallas County reports highest one-day increase in coronavirus cases, 5 deaths

Dallas News

Updated at 4:05 p.m.: Revised to include Collin County’s latest case numbers.

Dallas County reported its highest single-day increase in coronavirus cases on Thursday as its death toll rose above 100 for the first time.

The county reported five more deaths, bringing the total to 104.

The latests deaths included three residents of long-term care facilities in Dallas, as well as a Balch Springs man in his 20s and a Dallas man in his 60s. The long-term care residents were a man in his 70s who had an underlying health condition, a woman in her 80s and a woman in her 90s.

Health officials didn’t identify the facility or facilities where those residents lived. About 40% of the 104 deaths in Dallas County have been tied to long-term care facilities.

The county also reported 179 new positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 3,531.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement that the increase in cases stems from a change in guidelines by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, which allows grocery store and big-box store employees to be tested for COVID-19 without symptoms at the county’s drive-through locations.

Jenkins urged people to limit unnecessary shopping trips and avoid crowds “in this worsening situation.”

Beginning Friday, some businesses — such as malls, restaurants and movie theaters — may reopen under certain conditions, according to an order from Gov. Greg Abbott.

“With the Governor’s order set to open still more businesses tomorrow, your smart decisions to protect you, your family and the community are more important than ever,” Jenkins said. “It’s beautiful weather and we’ve been cooped up for over a month but the underlying advice based on science from the health experts has not changed.”

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said on Twitter that it’s unclear whether the higher number of cases Thursday “is because numbers are actually growing or simply because we tested more people.”

As of Wednesday, Dallas County’s health department had conducted 2,123 tests and private labs had conducted 15,248 tests since March 13. Of those tests, 14,332 have been negative.

Those numbers don’t include tests conducted at community-based testing sites at the American Airlines Center and the Ellis Davis Field House, since those tests are conducted in a lab outside the city of Dallas, according to the mayor’s office.

Because the criteria for testing has changed along with the number of available tests during the coronavirus pandemic, Dallas lacks an accurate picture of COVID-19 case growth over time, Johnson said on Twitter.

“But here’s what doesn’t lie,” he said. “The number of beds and ventilators available in our hospitals.”

Johnson referenced a recent uptick in intensive care unit beds and ventilator usage at Dallas hospitals, saying it could be extrapolated that the increase is likely tied to more hospitalizations due to coronavirus, rather than a lifting of a ban on elective surgeries, since that shouldn’t have led to a spike in ICU bed or ventilator use.

On Wednesday, 550 of the city’s 827 total ICU beds were in use. Hospitals across Dallas were also using 330 of 943 available ventilators on Wednesday.

A week earlier, 505 ICU beds and 294 ventilators were in use.

Among people who have been hospitalized for coronavirus and reported their employment in Dallas County, about 79% have been “critical infrastructure workers,” which the county defined as people who work in health care, transportation, food and agriculture, public works, finance, communications, clergy, first responders and other essential workers.

Most Dallas County coronavirus patients who have required hospitalization have either been over 60 or have had at least one known high-risk chronic health condition, officials said. Diabetes has been an underlying health condition in about a third of hospitalized patients.

Tarrant County

Tarrant County reported seven more COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, bringing its total to 68.

All seven were Fort Worth residents with underlying health conditions: a man in his 50s, three men in their 70s, two women in their 80s and a woman in her 90s.

Tarrant County has reported a total of 2,246 positive coronavirus cases, including 97 new cases on Thursday.

The county also reported that 485 people have recovered from the virus.

“We are again saddened to report more deaths in our community,” Tarrant County Health Director Vinny Taneja said in a statement. “It underscores our responsibility to work together to protect everyone, especially those who are most vulnerable.”

Collin County

Collin County reported 14 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing its total to 724.

The county has reported 20 deaths of people with COVID-19, including the most recent death of an 83-year-old Plano woman who died at Medical City Plano after testing positive for the virus on April 21.

“It is always sad to learn of the death of another member of our Collin County community,” Collin County Judge Chris Hill said in a statement. “We extend our deepest sympathies to her family and friends.”

Collin County has also reported 496 recoveries from the virus.

Kaufman County

Officials in Kaufman County reported the county’s first coronavirus-related death Thursday, a resident of the Forney/Mesquite area.

No additional information about the victim was released.

The county also recorded three new cases of COVID-19, raising its total to 86. Fifty of those patients are presumed to have recovered, according to the county’s data.

Johnson County

One more Johnson County resident has tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Thursday.

The county has had 82 total cases, with four deaths and 45 patients released from isolation.

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